Employment by qualification level

Published

Last updated 9 November 2020 - see all updates

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1. Main facts and figures

  • 87% of 16 to 64 year olds with a level 4 qualification (equivalent to degree level) or above were in employment in 2018
  • this dropped to 82% for those with 2 or more A levels (or another level 3 qualification), and 75% for those with 5 or more GCSE passes (or another level 2 qualification)
  • at all qualification levels, White 16 to 64 year olds were more likely to be employed than those from all other ethnic groups
  • among those with no qualifications, people from the Black and White ethnic groups were the most likely to be in employment
  • among men, Asian men had the highest employment rate of all ethnic groups, at 84%
  • in all ethnic groups, men were more likely to be employed than women
  • among men, Asian men had the highest employment rate of all ethnic groups, at 84%

2. Things you need to know

What the data measures

The data measures the percentage of working age people (16 to 64 year olds) who are employed and not in full time education. It shows rates of employment for each qualification level, which relates to someone’s highest qualification.

The qualification levels are:

  • level 4 or above (degree level or equivalent)
  • level 3 (2 or more A levels or equivalent)
  • level 2 (5 or more GCSE passes at grades 4 to 9 or equivalent)
  • below level 2 (fewer than 5 GCSE passes at grades 4 to 9 or equivalent)
  • no qualifications
  • other qualifications, including those from outside the UK and some professional qualifications where the level is not clear

A person of working age is counted as employed if they:

  • are in paid work, as an employee or self-employed
  • have a job that they are temporarily away from, for example on holiday
  • are on a government-supported training or employment programme
  • are doing unpaid family work, for example working in a family business

Percentages in the charts and tables are rounded to whole numbers.

Not included in the data

The data does not include estimates based on fewer than:

  • 30 survey responses for data for all ethnic groups combined
  • 100 survey responses for data by ethnicity

This is to protect people’s confidentiality and because the numbers involved are too small to make reliable generalisations.

The ethnic groups used in the data

Estimates are shown for the following 5 aggregated ethnic groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Mixed
  • White (including White ethnic minorities)
  • Other

This is because the number of people surveyed was too small to make any reliable conclusions about any of the 18 ethnic groups.

Methodology

Read the detailed methodology document for this data.

The Annual Population Survey updated its ethnicity questions in 2011. As a result, estimates from before and after 2011 may not be consistent, and data for individual ethnic groups in 2011 is not available.

The figures on this page are based on survey data. Find out more about:

In the data file

See Download the data for:

  • estimates rounded to 1 decimal place
  • confidence intervals for each ethnic group – find out more about how we use confidence intervals to determine how reliable estimates are
  • estimates for 2 ethnic groups, White and Other than White

3. By qualification level and ethnicity

Percentage of people aged 16 to 64 years who were employed and not in full-time education, by ethnicity and qualification level
Highest qualification held All Asian Black Mixed White Other
All 78% 71% 73% 73% 79% 69%
Level 4 and above 87% 84% 84% 86% 87% 78%
Level 3 82% 73% 74% 71% 83% 63%
Level 2 75% 60% 63% 61% 76% 66%
Below Level 2 70% 58% 62% 61% 72% 57%
Other qualifications 76% 65% 71% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 79% 66%
No qualifications 48% 42% 51% 36% 49% 45%

Download table data for ‘By qualification level and ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By qualification level and ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Employment by qualification level By qualification level and ethnicity Summary

This data shows that:

  • 87% of 16 to 64 year olds with a degree (or other level 4 qualification) or above were in employment in 2018
  • this dropped to 82% of those with 2 or more A levels (or another level 3 qualification), and 75% for those with 5 or more GCSE passes (or another level 2 qualification)
  • 79% of White 16 to 64 year olds were employed, the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
  • among those with no qualifications, Black (51%) and White (49%) people were the most likely to be in employment out of all ethnic groups
  • in every ethnic group, men were more likely to be employed than women

4. By ethnicity and qualification level (men only)

Percentage of men aged 16 to 64 years who were employed and not in full-time education, by ethnicity and qualification level
Highest qualification held All Asian Black Mixed White Other
All 83% 84% 79% 77% 83% 79%
Level 4 and above 90% 92% 87% 88% 90% 86%
Level 3 87% 87% 77% 75% 87% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Level 2 80% 72% 69% 70% 81% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Below Level 2 78% 76% 71% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 78% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other qualifications 84% 85% 81% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 84% 82%
No qualifications 57% 65% 64% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 56% 58%

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and qualification level (men only)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and qualification level (men only)’ (CSV)

Summary of Employment by qualification level By ethnicity and qualification level (men only) Summary

This data shows that:

  • among men, Asian men had the highest employment rate of all ethnic groups in 2018, at 84%
  • among men with a degree (or another level 4 qualification or above), Asian men had the highest employment rate (at 92%), followed by White men (90%)
  • among men with 5 or more GCSE passes (or another level 2 qualification), White men had the highest employment rate (at 81%), followed by Asian men (72%)
  • among men with no qualifications, Asian men had the highest employment rate (at 65%) and White men had the lowest (at 56%)
  • although the table and chart show other differences, some of the results are based on small numbers of people so caution should be taken when making generalisations

5. By ethnicity and qualification level (women only)

Percentage of women aged 16 to 64 years who were employed and not in full-time education, by ethnicity and qualification level
Highest qualification held All Asian Black Mixed White Other
All 73% 57% 68% 68% 75% 59%
Level 4 and above 83% 75% 81% 84% 85% 72%
Level 3 78% 61% 71% 65% 79% 50%
Level 2 69% 49% 58% 52% 71% 59%
Below Level 2 63% 41% 54% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 65% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other qualifications 65% 45% 59% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 70% 49%
No qualifications 38% 19% 40% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 41% 33%

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and qualification level (women only)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and qualification level (women only)’ (CSV)

Summary of Employment by qualification level By ethnicity and qualification level (women only) Summary

This data shows that:

  • at every qualification level (including no qualifications), White women were more likely to be employed than women from any other ethnic group
  • 85% of White women with a degree (or another level 4 qualification) were employed, compared with 75% of Asian women and 81% of Black women
  • although the table and chart show other differences, some of the results are based on small numbers of people so caution should be taken when making generalisations

6. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Office for National Statistics

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The Annual Population Survey (APS) is the largest household survey in the UK and covers topics, including:

  • personal characteristics
  • labour market status
  • work characteristics
  • education
  • health

The purpose of the APS is to provide information on social and socio-economic variables at local levels, such as labour market estimates.

The published statistics also allow the government to monitor estimates between Censuses.

7. Download the data