United Kingdom

Access to training

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Throughout the last decade, people with no qualifications have been around three times less likely to receive job-related training than those with some qualifications.
  • The lower a person’s level of educational qualifications, the less likely they are to receive job-related training.  For example, around 8% of employees with no qualifications report that they have received job-related training in the last three months.  By contrast, among those with a higher educational qualification, the proportion receiving job-related training rises to 35%.
  • This pattern is reflected in the proportions receiving training according to the nature of their occupation.  So among those in elementary (routine) occupations, plant & machine operatives, and those engaged in skilled trades, around 15% receive any job-related training in any three-month period.  By contrast, among those in professional occupations, the proportion is around 40%.
  • The best access to training is in the public sector.

Why this indicator was originally chosen

For those over 25 with no qualifications, the chances of repeated or long term unemployment, and of being low paid are considerable.  Work related training and gaining new qualifications are both means of reducing the chances of such negative outcomes.  The value of training and qualifications is clear: for lone parents, for example, even those with quite modest qualifications averaged 20% more in hourly earnings than those with no qualifications at all. 1, DfEE, 1997.

This indicator examines the inequality in access to training between those with and without qualifications.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the proportion of employees who have received some job-related training in the previous three months, with the data shown separately for those with some previous qualifications and those without.  The qualifications include both academic and vocational qualifications and both current qualifications (e.g. GCSEs) and qualifications which have been awarded in the past (e.g. O levels).

The second graph shows a breakdown by the level of the employees’ highest qualification.  Department for Education equivalence scales have been used to translate vocational qualifications into their academic equivalents.

The third graph shows a breakdown by occupation group.  Note that the major occupations under the title ‘personal service’ are related to healthcare and childcare services.  Those under ‘elementary’ relate to routine occupations.

The fourth graph shows a breakdown by broad industry group.  Of the 21 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 2007 industry sectors, the 6 smallest have been omitted for presentational purposes whilst a number of others have been combined: ‘transport and communications’ is industry codes H and J; ‘other private sector services’ is codes L-N; ‘public sector’ is codes O-Q; and ‘community services’ is codes R-S.

The data source for all the graphs is the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and relates to the United Kingdom.  The figures for each year are the average for the four quarters of the relevant year.  To improve their statistical reliability, the data for the second, third and fourth graphs is the average for the latest three years.  The training includes that paid for by employers and by employees themselves.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  The LFS is a well-established, quarterly government survey, designed to be representative of the population as a whole.  But a single, undifferentiated notion of ‘training,’ without reference to its length or nature, lessens the value of the indicator.

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

Overall aim:  Improve the skills of the population, on the way to ensuring a world-class skills base by 2020

Lead department

Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

Official national targets

597,000 people of working age to achieve a first level 1 or above literacy qualification, and 390,000 to achieve a first entry level 3 or above numeracy qualification.

79% of working age adults qualified to at least full Level 2.

56% of working age adults qualified to at least full level 3.

130,000 apprentices to complete the full apprenticeship framework in 2010/11.

36% of working age adults qualified to Level 4 and above by 2014, with an interim milestone of 34% by 2011.

Increase participation in Higher Education towards 50% of those aged 18 to 30 with growth of at least a percentage point every two years to the academic year 2010/11.

Previous 2004 targets

Increase the number of adults with the skills required for employability and progression to higher levels of training through:

  • improving the basic skill levels of 2.25 million adults between the launch of Skills for Life in 2001 and 2010, with a milestone of 1.5 million in 2007; and
  • reducing by at least 40% the number of adults in the UK workforce who lack NVQ2 or equivalent qualifications by 2010.  Working towards this, one million adults already in the workforce to achieve level 2 between 2003 and 2006.

The numbers

Graph 1

Year with no qualifications with qualifications
1997 8% 28%
1998 8% 29%
1999 9% 29%
2000 10% 31%
2001 11% 31%
2002 11% 32%
2003 11% 31%
2004 10% 31%
2005 11% 31%
2006 11% 30%
2007 9% 29%
2008 9% 29%
2009 9% 28%
2010 8% 28%

Graph 2

Year All working-age adults Higher education A-level or equivalent GCSE grades A*-C GCSE below grade C No qualifications
1997 25% 40% 24% 26% 19% 8%
1998 26% 40% 25% 26% 20% 8%
1999 27% 41% 26% 27% 19% 9%
2000 28% 42% 27% 28% 21% 10%
2001 29% 43% 28% 28% 21% 11%
2002 29% 42% 28% 28% 23% 11%
2003 29% 41% 27% 27% 22% 11%
2004 29% 40% 27% 27% 22% 10%
2005 29% 40% 28% 26% 21% 11%
2006 28% 38% 27% 25% 20% 11%
200727% 37% 26% 25% 20% 9%
200827% 37% 26% 24% 19% 9%
200927% 36% 26% 23% 18% 9%
201026% 35% 25% 22% 17% 8%

Graph 3

Plant & Machine15%
Sales & Customer Service21%
Personal service38%
Skilled Trades17%
Administrative & Secretarial23%
Associate Professional37%

Graph 4

Retail & Wholesale18%
Hotels & Restaurants18%
Transport & Communications19%
Financial services29%
Other Private Sector Services24%
Public Sector42%
Community Services23%
1. How education and training make work pay for lone mothers