Unemployment by qualification level

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • 3% of all 16 to 64 year olds in England, Wales and Scotland were unemployed in 2019
  • at most qualification levels, White 16 to 64 year olds were the least likely to be unemployed out of all ethnic groups
  • 2% of White 16 to 64 year olds with a level 4 qualification or above (equivalent to degree level) were unemployed – the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups

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 were unemployed and not in full-time education.

It shows rates of unemployment 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 unemployed if they:

  • do not have a job
  • have been actively seeking work in the past 4 weeks
  • are available to start work in the next 2 weeks, or have found a job and are waiting to start it in the next 2 weeks

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 unemployed and not in full-time education, by ethnicity and qualification level
Highest qualification held All Asian Black Mixed White Other
All 3% 4% 6% 5% 3% 4%
Level 4 and above 2% 4% 6% 3% 2% 3%
Level 3 3% 6% 7% 6% 3% 8%
Level 2 3% 5% 7% 6% 3% 9%
Below Level 2 5% 7% 10% 11% 4% 6%
Other qualifications 3% 4% 3% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 3% 3%
No qualifications 5% 4% 8% 9% 4% 4%

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

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

The data shows that:

  • 3% of all 16 to 64 year olds in England, Wales and Scotland were unemployed in 2019
  • at most qualification levels, White 16 to 64 year olds were the least likely to be unemployed out of all ethnic groups
  • 2% of White 16 to 64 year olds with a level 4 qualification or above (equivalent to degree level) were unemployed – the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups

4. By ethnicity and qualification level (men only)

Percentage of men aged 16 to 64 who were unemployed and not in full-time education, by ethnicity and qualification level
Highest qualification held All Asian Black Mixed White Other
All 3% 4% 7% 5% 3% 4%
Level 4 and above 2% 3% 7% 2% 2% 2%
Level 3 3% 7% 8% 6% 3% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Level 2 4% 8% 8% 7% 4% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Below Level 2 5% 7% 13% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 5% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other qualifications 3% 4% 3% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 3% 3%
No qualifications 6% 5% 9% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 6% 5%

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 Unemployment by qualification level By ethnicity and qualification level (men only) Summary

The data shows that:

  • 3% of all men aged 16 to 64 in England, Wales and Scotland were unemployed in 2019
  • 2% of White men with a level 4 qualification or above (equivalent to degree level), and 3% of those with 2 or more A levels (or another level 3 qualification) were unemployed – these were among the lowest rates out of all ethnic groups with reliable data
  • among men with below level 2 qualifications, Black men had the highest unemployment rate (13%) and White men had the lowest (5%)

5. By ethnicity and qualification level (women only)

Percentage of women aged 16 to 64 who were unemployed and not in full-time education, by ethnicity and qualification level
Highest qualification held All Asian Black Mixed White Other
All 3% 4% 5% 4% 2% 5%
Level 4 and above 2% 4% 4% 3% 2% 4%
Level 3 3% 6% 5% 5% 3% 7%
Level 2 3% 2% 6% 4% 3% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Below Level 2 4% 7% 6% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 4% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other qualifications 3% 4% 3% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 3% 3%
No qualifications 3% 3% 7% withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 3% 3%

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 Unemployment by qualification level By ethnicity and qualification level (women only) Summary

The data shows that:

  • 3% of all women aged 16 to 64 in England, Wales and Scotland were unemployed in 2019
  • at most qualification levels, White women were the least likely out of all ethnic groups to be unemployed
  • among women with a level 4 qualification or above (equivalent to degree level), White women had the lowest unemployment rate (2%) – women from the Asian, Black and Other ethnic groups had the highest rate (all 4%)
  • 3% of White women with 2 or more A levels (or another level 3 qualification) were unemployed
  • 7% of women from the Other ethnic group with 2 or more A levels (or another level 3 qualification) were unemployed, compared with 6% of Asian women, and 5% of Black women

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

Unemployment by qualification level - Spreadsheet (csv) 374 KB

This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, year, geography, gender, age, highest qualification held, value, numerator, denominator, confidence intervals (upper bound, lower bound)