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UK skills levels and international competitiveness, 2014

Skills are a fundamental determinant of individual employability and earnings potential. Furthermore, productivity and business profitability are influenced by skills, ultimately affecting the UK’s economic performance. In a globalised world the goal of achieving world class skills has never been more critical to jobs and growth in the UK. Understanding how we stand in the global skills race and assessing our direction of travel in skills performance are essential to informing the actions we take now. Building on previous analyses of skill levels in the Ambition 2020 reports of 20091 and 20102, Bosworth (2012)3 and Bosworth (2014)4, this report assesses skills supply by analysing the attainment of formal qualifications, recognising that qualifications are only one, imperfect, measure of skills. Nonetheless, analysis of the level of formal qualifications held by the adult population provides valuable insight into the UK’s skills performance. This analysis uses past patterns of behaviour and performance to provide projections through to 2020. Since these projections indicate what would happen in the future if recent trends continue, the reader should treat them with caution, as indicative of future trends, rather than as precise forecasts of the future.