Employment by qualification level

Published

Last updated 3 August 2021 - see all updates

1. Main facts and figures

This page will not be updated with 2020 data. This is because the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is reweighting the data we use for this page, to account for the effects of population changes and COVID-19 on labour market statistics.

  • at all qualification levels, White 16 to 64 year olds were more likely to be employed than those from almost all other ethnic groups
  • among men with no qualifications, Asian men had the highest employment rate (67%) and White and Black men had the lowest (both 54%)
  • among women with a level 4 qualification or above (equivalent to degree level), White women had the highest employment rate (85%) and women from the Asian and Other ethnic groups had the lowest (both 74%)

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 people for data for all ethnic groups combined
  • 100 people 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
  • 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 ethnicity and qualification level

Percentage of 16 to 64 year olds who were employed and not in full-time education, by ethnicity and qualification level
Highest qualification held All Asian Black Mixed White Other
All 79% 71% 75% 77% 80% 71%
Level 4 and above 87% 83% 83% 88% 87% 81%
Level 3 83% 71% 77% 78% 84% 66%
Level 2 76% 62% 67% 65% 77% 64%
Below Level 2 70% 60% 67% 60% 71% 62%
Other qualifications 77% 65% 76% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 80% 67%
No qualifications 47% 44% 44% 37% 48% 43%

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

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

The data shows that:

  • 79% of all 16 to 64 year olds in England, Wales and Scotland were in employment in 2019
  • 87% of 16 to 64 year olds with a level 4 qualification or above (equivalent to degree level) were employed
  • this went down to 83% for 16 to 64 year olds with 2 or more A levels (or another level 3 qualification), and 76% for those with 5 or more GCSEs (or another level 2 qualification)
  • 80% of White 16 to 64 year olds were employed, the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
  • among those with no qualifications, White 16 to 64 year olds (48%) were the most likely to be in employment out of all ethnic groups

4. By ethnicity and qualification level (men only)

Percentage of 16 to 64 year old men 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% 78% 80% 83% 81%
Level 4 and above 90% 92% 85% 94% 90% 90%
Level 3 86% 84% 82% 81% 87% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Level 2 81% 73% 73% 64% 82% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Below Level 2 77% 75% 69% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 78% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other qualifications 86% 82% 83% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 86% 85%
No qualifications 56% 67% 54% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 54% 59%

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

The data shows that:

  • 83% of all men aged 16 to 64 in England, Wales and Scotland were in employment in 2019
  • 84% of Asian men were employed, the highest percentage out of men from all ethnic groups
  • among men with a level 4 qualification or above (equivalent to degree level), 93% of men with Mixed ethnic backgrounds were employed – the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups, followed by Asian men (92%)
  • among men with 5 or more GCSE passes or another level 2 qualification, 82% of White men were employed – the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
  • among men with no qualifications, Asian men had the highest employment rate (67%) and White and Black men had the lowest (both 54%)

5. By ethnicity and qualification level (women only)

Percentage of 16 to 64 year old women who were employed and not in full-time education, by ethnicity and qualification level
Highest qualification held All Asian Black Mixed White Other
All 74% 58% 72% 73% 76% 61%
Level 4 and above 84% 74% 82% 83% 85% 74%
Level 3 79% 59% 74% 74% 81% 58%
Level 2 71% 52% 63% 66% 72% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Below Level 2 63% 43% 65% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 65% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other qualifications 66% 49% 68% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 72% 47%
No qualifications 38% 22% 35% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 41% 27%

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

The data shows that:

  • 74% of all women aged 16 to 64 in England, Wales and Scotland were in employment in 2019
  • at every qualification level (including no qualifications), White women had the highest employment rates out of women from all ethnic groups
  • at every qualification level (including no qualifications), Black women had a higher employment rate than Asian women
  • among women with a level 4 qualification or above (equivalent to degree level), White women had the highest employment rate (85%) and women from the Asian and Other ethnic groups had the lowest (both 74%)

6. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Office for National Statistics

Note on corrections or updates

Higher-level figures may differ from those published by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Office for National Statistics that use the Labour Force Survey.

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

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

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

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

The published statistics also allow the government to monitor estimates on a range of issues between censuses.

7. Download the data