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.

File Download data (985 bytes)

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 halving from 26% in 1999 to 13% in 2019.

By 2019, 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 1999.

The proportion of working-age adults with higher education or above had also nearly doubled in all UK nations. While Northern Ireland previously had the lowest proportion with higher education qualifications or above, this figure has improved from 20% in 1999 to 37% in 2019, and is now level with Wales.