Without a basic qualification at age 19

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Labour Force Survey data suggests that around one in five 19-year-olds lack SVQ2 or its academic equivalent.
  • It also suggests that this proportion is somewhat lower than a decade ago (with the year-by-year fluctuations being due to small sample sizes).
  • The proportion of 19- to 24-year-olds without a basic level of qualification is lower in Scotland than elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

Definitions and data sources

The graph shows the proportion of 19-year-olds who lack an SVQ2 or equivalent, with those lacking any Standard Grades at Level 6 or above shown separately.

SVQ2 or equivalent includes those with 5 or more Standard Grades Credit level (Standard Grades 1-2), GNVQ intermediate, RSA diploma, City and Guilds craft, BTEC, SCOTVEC first or general diploma, ‘A’ levels and 5 or more ‘O’ Levels/GCSEs grade A-C.

The second graph shows how the proportion of 19- to 24-year-olds without a basic qualification in Scotland compares with the rest of the United Kingdom (a five-year age group being chosen because the sample sizes for 19-year-olds only is very small).  Again, the data is shown separately for those without SVQ2/NVQ2 or equivalent and those without any Standard Grades at Level 6 or above (or any GCSEs at grade G or above).  To improve statistical reliability, the figures are the averages for the latest three years.

The data source for both graphs is the Labour Force Survey (LFS).  The figures for each year are the average for the four quarters of the relevant year.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: limited.  The LFS is a well-established, quarterly survey designed to be representative of the population as whole.  However, a) the sample sizes for 19-year-olds are very small, b) DCSF has recently concluded (see review summary) that, at least in England, LFS appears generally to overstate academic achievement in comparison with administrative sources, and furthermore that the range and diversity of vocational qualifications has grown in recent year and it is difficult for LFS to accurately capture these.  They therefore prefer to use administrative sources to analyse this issue, and conclude that the proportion of 19-year-olds without NVQ2 in England has actually been reducing rapidly in recent years (rather than being flat).