Qualifications among the working-age population over time

The working-age skills profile has improved considerably over the last 20 years. Fewer people have low or no qualifications; more have higher qualifications. 

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Link to source: Labour Force Survey

Since 1996, there has been a large decrease in the proportion of working-age people with no qualifications and an increase in the proportion with higher education qualifications across the whole country.

Northern Ireland stands out as the part of the UK with the highest proportion of adults with no qualifications. This is despite this figure falling from 30% in 1996 to 16% in 2016, a reduction of nearly half.

By 2016, fewer than one in ten working-age adults in England, Scotland and Wales had no qualifications. Wales had caught up with England and Scotland by this time, having had a higher proportion of adults with no qualifications in 1996.

The proportion of working-age adults with higher education had also nearly doubled in England, Wales and Scotland. Although Northern Ireland has lowest proportion with higher education qualifications, this figure has improved from 17% in 1996 to 31% in 2016.