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Skills in the UK

In: The Labour Market Under New Labour


  • Steven McIntosh


The UK has more adults with poor basic skills of literacy and numeracy than many countries in Europe. Younger cohorts of adults in the UK perform no better (literacy) or even worse (numeracy) than older cohorts, which suggests that the UK labour force is not replenishing itself with more skilled workers, contrary to the situation in many European countries. Those who do have good literacy and numeracy skills in the UK enjoy a substantial wage premium over those who do not, showing the value of these skills to individuals and employers. There has been a small recent increase in the proportion of adults holding at least intermediate (Level 3) vocational qualifications, although the growth of academic qualifications remains faster. With the exception of professional qualifications, the returns to other vocational qualifications are not large, suggesting a relatively low worth in the labour market. For individuals with no school qualifications at all, vocational qualifications at Level 3 do seem to provide real benefit, although qualifications below Level 3 continue to have little value.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven McIntosh, 2003. "Skills in the UK," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: Richard Dickens & Paul Gregg & Jonathan Wadsworth (ed.), The Labour Market Under New Labour, chapter 16, pages 248-261, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:palchp:978-0-230-59845-4_17
    DOI: 10.1057/9780230598454_17

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