Unemployment by qualification level
1. Main facts and figures
- in 2022, the unemployment rate for all 16 to 64 year olds was 3%
- at almost every qualification level, white 16 to 64 year olds were the least likely to be unemployed out of all ethnic groups
- 2% of white people with a degree (or other level 4 qualification) or above were unemployed – the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups
- 12% of Asian people with qualifications below level 2 (fewer than 5 GCSE passes at grades 4 to 9 or equivalent) were unemployed – the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
- among men, the highest unemployment rate was for men with level 2 qualifications in the mixed ethnic group (10%)
- among women, the highest rate was for Asian women with level 2 qualifications (10%)
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:
This is because the number of people surveyed was too small to make any reliable conclusions about any of the 18 ethnic groups.
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.
In 2022, there were some changes to the question about highest qualification. For example, there was a new category for ‘Don’t know’, the values for ‘Don’t know’ and ‘missing’ were combined, and trade apprenticeships were removed as a category. Because of this, data for 2022 is not directly comparable with previous years’ data.
The figures on this page are based on survey data. Find out more about:
- interpreting survey data, including how reliability is affected by the number of people surveyed
- how weighting is used to make survey data more representative of the general population
In the data file
Download the data for:
- estimates for men and women
- 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 ‘all other ethnic groups combined’
3. By ethnicity and qualification level
|Highest qualification held||All||Asian||Black||Mixed||White||Other|
|Level 4 and above||2||3||4||2||2||4|
|Below Level 2||6||12||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||5||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable|
|Other Qualifications||4||4||6||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||4||3|
|No Qualifications||4||4||4||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||3||3|
4. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
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.
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
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.
5. Download the data
This file contains the following variables: Measure, Ethnicity, Ethnicity_type, Time, Time_type, Geography, Gender, Age, Qualification, Value, Value_type, Denominator, Numerator, Upper 95% C.I., Lower 95% C.I.