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UK skills levels: International comparisons and competitiveness

This report provides an assessment of the level of skills held by the UK population compared to other countries. Skills play a fundamental role in determining individual employability and earnings potential and they make a major contribution to productivity and business profitability, ultimately contributing to economic growth. The rapid changes taking place in the global environment mean that the goal of achieving world class skills has never been more critical to UK jobs and growth and the future skills mix of the UK adult population is therefore of key importance. The report builds on previous analyses of skill levels presented in the Ambition 2020 reports of 2009 and 2010 and Bosworth (2012). It assesses skills supply using possession of formal qualifications as the key measure, recognising that qualifications are only one, imperfect, measure of skills. Nonetheless, this analysis of the level of formal qualifications held by individuals provides a valuable insight into the UK’s skills performance. The reader should bear in mind that these projections indicate what would happen in the future if recent trends, which themselves are based on survey observations, continue. Many factors might influence these trajectories through to 2020 and beyond, so as with all projections, they should be treated with caution, as indicative of future trends rather than as precise forecasts of the future. This report provides an interim update of the results from the projections. A fuller analysis, including projections for the UK nations and English regions, will be published later in 2014.