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Home > News > March 2007 > 20 March 2007

Survey finds increase in adults with Level 2 qualifications

According to government figures, almost three quarters of the UK workforce now have a Level 2 qualification - the equivalent of five good GCSEs.

The final Labour Force Survey of 2006 reports that 73.9% of adults in the workforce now have a Level 2 or equivalent qualification; corresponding to around 17.5 million adults from a total economically active population of 23.7 million.

In addition, the report says 52.4% are now qualified to NVQ Level 3 (the equivalent of two A levels) corresponding to around 12.4 million adults out of the total.

Compared to four years ago, the figures show 1,141,000 more adults are now qualified to Level 2, exceeding the one million milestone set for adult skills targets for the end of 2006.

In the Leitch Review of Skills, published in December 2006, Sandy Leitch challenged the Government to get at least 90% of the population equipped with Level 2 qualifications by 2020.

The minister for further education, higher education and lifelong learning, Bill Rammell said: "This is a major achievement and shows that we are well on the way to meeting the ambitious targets set by Lord Leitch.

"This achievement is down to the hard work and dedication of all those in the learning and skills sector, and significant extra Government investment. These qualifications will make a real difference to people's lives and careers, as well as ensuring the future economic competitiveness of this country. It is absolutely right that we are prioritising Adult Education funding to get adults up to Level 2."

Mark Haysom, chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) said: "As the Leitch report identified, all of these skills are vital to the wider economy which stands to benefit by £80 billion if we can meet these skills targets. The Further Education sector is rising to the challenge by focussing more on vocational qualifications for the lowest skills, rather than on short courses and those not leading to qualifications.

"Those with a full Level 2 qualification are three times as likely to be offered training by their employer. They earn more, they are much less likely to be unemployed, much less likely to be in prison or involved in crime and they are much more likely to go on to get the higher qualifications that the economy increasingly needs.

"This is the third skills target that we have beaten this year. We recently announced that the number of young people at 19 gaining Level 2 qualifications has increased by over 40,000. Plus through the Government's Skills for life strategy, over 1.5 million people have gained crucial basic skills qualifications since 2001."

Sir Digby Jones, the UK 's skills envoy said: "Without a skills revolution we face the prospect of unemployment on a scale we have not seen since the 1980s. Too many adults, in and out of work, lack the basics in literacy, language and numeracy. They simply don't have the skills and qualifications to support sustained, productive employment. Level 2 offers all adults a firm foundation of employability skills with the potential to progress to higher levels. This is why today's news is such good news. I am delighted to see the achievement of this major milestone."

Graham Hoyle, chief executive of the Association of Learning Providers (ALP), said: "ALP has been supportive of the move over recent years to focus Government/LSC funding for adults on developing the skills needed by employers and employees alike. The focus on upping the level of adult basic skills and getting everyone up to at least a first level two represents a critical foundation from which to build the extensive higher level skills needed by our economy if we are to prosper in an ever more competitive global economy.

"The frontline weapon is of course Train to Gain, and we are delighted that this new national approach is spearheading the LSC's strategy on adult skill development. ALP members, both independent providers and colleges, are ready to move into top gear to deliver this, not only to their existing, extensive employer base, but also to that broader range of employers that need to focus on developing the skills of their workforce. Train to Gain represents a truly shared agenda which will only succeed on the back of joint and coherent action between LSC and its provider base."

External links

Report: Leitch Review of Skills

Report: The Level of Highest Qualification held by Adults: England 2006

Learning and Skills Council (LSC)

Train to Gain

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