The latest ONS analysis looks at qualifications in England and Wales using 2011 Census data, exploring variations by region and local authority. The data focuses on the proportion of residents who had no qualifications, degree level or above qualification and apprenticeships.
Of the 45.5 million usual residents in England and Wales aged 16 and over, over a fifth (22.7%) had no qualifications while over three quarters (77.3%) had at least one qualification. Degree level or above qualification was the most common qualification reported, with over a quarter (27.2%) of the population reporting this as their highest level of qualification.
Those aged 65 and over were more likely to have no qualifications than the other age groups
Over half of the population aged 65 and over (52.9%) had no qualifications. This was the only age group with a higher proportion of people reporting no qualifications as opposed to at least one qualification. Up to the age of 50, there were a higher proportion of men with no qualifications than women, whereas for those aged 50 to 64 there were more women (27.0%) than men (23.2%) with no qualifications.
3 in 10 people aged 16 to 64 held degree level or above qualification
Among the 36.3 million people aged 16 to 64, 3 in 10 (29.7%) reported a degree level or above qualification as their highest level of qualification. There were almost equal proportions of people who had no qualifications (15.0%), 1-4 GCSEs or equivalent (15.2%) and 2+ A Levels or equivalent (14.5%), while there was a slighter higher share with 5+ GCSEs (17.2%). ‘Other’ qualifications and apprenticeships were the least reported highest levels of qualification at 5.5% and 3.1%.
Degree level or above was the most common highest level of qualification reported across all age groups, with the exception of those aged 16 to 24, as some people in this age group are yet to complete their education. For those aged 25 to 34, 4 in 10 reported having a degree level or above qualification. Under the age of the 50, women were more likely to report having a degree level or above qualification compared with men.
Men more likely than women to have an apprenticeship as their highest level of qualification
There were 1.1 million (3.1%) people aged 16 to 64 with apprenticeship as their highest level of qualification. Among men aged 16 to 64, 5.3% reported apprenticeship as their highest level of qualification compared with 0.9% of women. Apprenticeships were generally more common among men than women, across all age groups, as they are mostly found within male dominated occupations such as skilled trade occupations.
Over a quarter of those in Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil had no qualifications
Blaenau Gwent (27.1%) and Merthyr Tydfil (26.2%) in Wales were the local authorities with the highest proportions of their population (aged 16 to 64) reporting no qualifications. In contrast, local authorities in the South of England had the lowest proportion reporting no qualifications.
Great Yarmouth (15.7%) and Corby (16.1%) were the local authorities with the lowest proportions reporting degree level or above qualification. The five local authorities with the highest proportions were all found in the London region.
The North East of England had the highest proportion of people reporting apprenticeships as their highest level of qualification, with Barrow-in-Furness in the North West having the highest proportion across all local authorities. Conversely, local authorities in London accounted for the 20 lowest proportions; the three lowest proportions were the City of London (0.6%), Kensington and Chelsea (0.6%) and Westminster (0.7%).
Where can I find out more about qualification statistics?
These statistics were analysed by the Census Analysis Team at ONS. The analysis is based on data collected from the 2011 Census and published in the ‘Local area analysis of qualifications across England and Wales’ release. If you would like to find out more about the latest qualification statistics, you can read the release, view the infographic or visit the census analysis page. If you have any comments or suggestions, we would like to hear them. Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.