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UK Skill levels and international competitiveness

The focus of the present report is on the level of skills held by the UK population, as proxied by formal qualifications, both historically and in terms of projections to 2020. The context is the link between higher qualification and skill levels and improvements in productivity and economic performance in an international setting. The report builds on previous analyses of skill levels presented in the Ambition 2020 reports of 2009 and 2010. The reader should bear in mind that these projections simply indicate what would happen in the future if recent trends, which themselves are based on survey observations, continue; but many things might impact on their path through to 2020 and beyond, so considerable caution is needed in using these results. This report assesses skills supply using possession of qualifications as the key measure. It is recognised that qualifications are only one, imperfect, measure of skills. Nonetheless, this analysis of the level of formal qualifications held by individuals is felt to provide a valuable insight in the UK’s skills base.