Current Status

Since 2001 there has been a steady decrease in the percentage of adults with SCQF Level 4 qualifications or below. The figure has fallen from 16.4% in the 2007 baseline year, to 12.6% in 2013

National Indicator

  Improve the skill profile of the population

Indicator Measure

Proportion of adults aged 16-64 with low or no qualifications (SCQF level 4 or below)

Improve the skill profile of the population

Why is this National Indicator important?

Scotland's greatest asset is its people. Scotland's capacity to become a more successful country in the rapidly changing global, innovation driven economy will be significantly influenced by the skills of its people. Continuing to develop a highly, relevantly skilled population, whether in schools, colleges, universities, communities or workplaces, and ensuring this talent and ability is applied effectively in sustainable employment is essential to improving productivity and sustainable economic growth.

It is recognised that a low skills level reduces an individual's opportunities and life chances. Improving skills is an effective way of promoting the health and well-being of individuals, improving the satisfaction and security of work and supporting the fabric of communities. As such, it is essential to provide opportunities and choices for people to develop their skills, helping them to be more successful individually and improving the opportunities for Scotland to realise its full economic potential through increased participation and productivity. It is important to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enhance their skills, particularly those most distant from the labour market, and enjoy levels of physical and mental health that allow them to maximise their individual potential. These enhancements are essential to achieving our cohesion, solidarity and sustainability ambitions for Scotland.

What will influence this National Indicator?

Four key priority themes, for action to improve the skills and employability of individuals, have been identified in the 2010 Skills for Scotland strategy refresh. These themes are:

  • empowering people to ensure they have the opportunity to access the right advice, support and opportunities to acquire the skills and attributes to both contribute to and benefit from future economic success
  • supporting employers by better understanding and assessing the skills they need for future success, and ensuring that the supply of skills, training and qualifications can be responsive to this
  • simplifying the skills system to ensure that it is more coherent and easy to understand for individuals and employers
  • strengthening partnerships and collective responsibility between public, private and third sectors to help improve skills and the contribution they make towards achieving Scotland's social and economic aspirations

What is the Government's role?

Through its Skills Strategy and the Curriculum for Excellence, the Government, Education Scotland and Skills Development Scotland supports local authorities, employers, colleges, adult learning and training providers and schools in providing a framework for learning and teaching. The Curriculum for Excellence encourages the development of knowledge, skills and attributes for learning, life and work for all pupils at school and establishes expectations that all school leavers have developed these skills and behaviours.

A key priority is to support employers by better understanding and assessing the skills required for future success, and ensuring that the supply of skills, training and qualifications is sufficiently responsive. Skills Development Scotland has a key role to play in both delivering services that support individuals and employers, and working across the skills and learning system to respond to demand.

Adult literacy and numeracy provision is offered by colleges, local authorities, third sector organisations and others. Education Scotland leads on the implementation of Adult Literacies in Scotland 2020: Strategic Guidance (Jan 2011), which provides the framework for adult literacy and numeracy provision in colleges, local authorities, third sector organisations and others.

How is Scotland performing?

The proportion of adults aged 16-64 with low or no qualifications (Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 4 or below) shows an overall reduction since 2001. The latest figures also show a small reduction in the proportion of adults aged 16-64 with low or no qualifications from 13.0% in 2012 to 12.6% in 2013. SCQF level 4 refers to qualifications at a level at or equivalent to Intermediate level 1 and General Standard Grade.

NI 8 Chart

The data for this chart is available at the bottom of the page

Source: Annual Population Survey, Office for National Statistics

What more do we know about this National Indicator?

The proportion of adults with low or no qualifications is strongly associated with age. Around a fifth of 50-64 year olds have no or low qualifications. This compares to less than a tenth of those aged between 16 and 34.

In 2012, the proportion of those with a disability who had no or low qualifications was 26%, almost three times the level of those who do not have a disability (9%). However, the fall in the proportion of people with no or low qualifications has been higher for disabled people than for people without a disability. Since 2007, the proportion of disabled people with no or low qualifications has fallen by 5 percentage points, this compares to a fall of 4 percentage points for those without a disability.

No or low qualifications is also linked to area deprivation. In 2012, about a quarter of people in the most deprived areas of Scotland had no or low qualifications. This is almost six times the level of those in the least deprived areas, where only 5% of people have no or low qualifications.

The data is available at the bottom of the page.

Criteria for recent change

This evaluation is based on: any difference within +/- 0.7 percentage points of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. A decrease of 0.7 percentage points or more suggests the position is improving; whereas an increase of 0.7 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening. The threshold of 0.7 percentage points chosen is based on an assessment of the data available at this time, and may need to be reviewed as more information becomes available in the future.

Further Information

For information on general methodological approach, please click here.

Scotland Performs Technical Note

Who are our partners?

Colleges

Education Scotland

Employers

Local Authorities

Schools

Scottish Funding Council

Scottish Prison Service (SPS)

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)

Sector Skills Councils

Skills Development Scotland

Trade Unions, Scottish Union Learning and the STUC

Voluntary sector organisations

Related Strategic Objectives

Smarter

Healthier

Wealthier and Fairer

Safer and Stronger

Greener

View National Indicator Data

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Title:Improve the skill profile of the population
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