3 Resources

3.2 Intermediate and higher level skills

Why is it significant?

Globalisation and the knowledge economy have also expanded the need for a more highly trained workforce. 

How does the UK perform?

The UKs deficit in vocational qualifications is clear when compared with our main competitors.  The Skills Audit[1] shows that despite improvements over the period 1994 to 1998, the UK still some way behind Germany and France in terms of the percentage of the workforce with level 2 and above vocational qualifications (Chart 3.2.1).  The UK has one-third fewer people qualified to level 2 than either France or Germany and only half as many people qualified to level 3 or above than Germany. 

Although the proportion of 19 and 21 year-olds holding level 2 and level 3 qualifications has been increasing, further progress needs to be made if the Targets are to be met.(Chart 3.2.2).

However, while the UK under-performs in attaining qualifications, there is some evidence that UK young people are relatively successful in utilising their knowledge and skills in meeting real-life challenges. The Programme for International Study Assessment found that the UKs performance was significantly above the OECD average in all three of the subjects covered reading literacy, mathematical literacy and scientific literacy (chart 3.2.3).



[1] Report to the Department of Education and Employment: Updating of Skills Audit Data 1998, London School of Economics and Political Science, January 2000.

Last updated on 12 March 2002