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Resident qualifications and workforce skills

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Qualifications of residents

The following analysis is based on data from the 2011 Census.  For more detail please see the economic activity and qualifications of Herefordshire residents report below. Qualification levels as measured by the 2011 Census are defined as follows:

  • Level 1: 1-4 O Levels/CSE/GCSEs (any grades), Entry Level, Foundation Diploma, NVQ level 1, Foundation GNVQ, Basic/Essential Skills
  • Level 2: 5+ O Level (Passes)/CSEs (Grade 1)/GCSEs (Grades A*-C), School Certificate, 1 A Level/ 2-3 AS Levels/VCEs, Intermediate/Higher Diploma, Welsh Baccalaureate Intermediate Diploma, NVQ level 2, Intermediate GNVQ, City and Guilds Craft, BTEC First/General Diploma, RSA Diploma
  • Level 3: 2+ A Levels/VCEs, 4+ AS Levels, Higher School Certificate, Progression/Advanced Diploma, Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma, NVQ Level 3; Advanced GNVQ, City and Guilds Advanced Craft, ONC, OND, BTEC National, RSA Advanced Diploma
  • Level 4+: Degree (for example BA, BSc), Higher Degree (for example MA, PhD, PGCE), NVQ Level 4-5, HNC, HND, RSA Higher Diploma, BTEC Higher level, Foundation degree (NI), Professional qualifications (for example teaching, nursing, accountancy)
  • Other qualifications: Vocational/Work-related Qualifications, Foreign Qualifications (Not stated/ level unknown).

In 2011 more than a quarter (29 per cent) of adults (16-64) had at least a degree (level 4 or above ), although almost a sixth (15 per cent) had no formal qualifications at all.  In total, just under a third (30 per cent) did not have the equivalent of five GCSEs grades A*-C (up to Level 2 qualification).

The last few years has seen an apparent increase in the proportion of Herefordshire’s working age population without qualifications, although analysis of the 2011 Census shows that qualification rates are very similar to those across England.  There are however noticeable differences by age: generally speaking younger county residents are less well qualified than older residents when compared to England as a whole.

Charts 1a and 1b. Proportion of residents without qualifications and qualified at level 4 and above by age
No Quals And Level 4 By Age Census 2011
Source: 2011 Census (DC5102EW)

Although not directly comparable there does seem to have been some change in qualification levels over the last decade.  Broadly speaking the proportions of residents (aged 16-64) with no qualifications and those with up to level 2  decreased from 2001, whilst the proportions with level 3 and 4 and above has increased.  The most extreme changes were at either end of the qualification spectrum.  This is a trend that has also been seen nationally.  This trend is confirmed for the latter part of the decade by data from the Annual Population Survey.

Analysis of qualification rates by country of birth shows that generally speaking non-UK born residents have higher qualification rates than those born outside the UK.  For example those born in the Americas or Caribbean had the highest proportion that were qualified at level 4 or above (49 per cent compared to 27 per cent of the UK born population).  At least 44 per cent of those born in Africa, Middle East and Asia and Antarctica, Oceania were qualified to this level.

According to research carried out for the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership(1), Herefordshire has a similar rate of enrolments on higher education courses as across the UK and around 40% of graduates return to work in the county - a further 2% return to elsewhere in the Marches.

The adult skills sub-domain of the Indices of Deprivation are also relevant to this topic - ranking all areas of England on the basis of the proportion of adults with no or low qualifications and ability to speak English.  16 areas of Herefordshire are amongst the 25% most deprived in the country - see the adult skills deprivation page for more detail. 

Employers’ views on recruitment and skills

Analysis of the UK Employers Skills Survey (see report below) shows that in 2013 14% of employers in the county had vacancies.  This was twice as many as in 2011 (6%) and similar to the proportion across England (15%) and the other Marches LEP areas (Shropshire 12% and Telford and Wrekin 13%). The most common occupation of vacancies was elementary staff (18% of all vacancies), followed by professionals (13%), administrative/clerical staff (13%) and caring, leisure and other services staff (12%).

23% of vacancies in the county were reported as being ‘hard-to-fill’, the vast majority of which because of skills shortages. Across England 29% of vacancies were hard-to-fill.

9% of employers in the county reported that employees did not have the required skills to carry out their role - a lower rate than across England (15%), Shropshire (14%) and Telford and Wrekin (18%).  ‘Technical or practical skills or job specific skills’, ‘planning and organisation skills’ and ‘team working skills’ were the most common skills that needed improving.

Relatively few employers in the county recruited people straight from education - 22% did so in the last 2-3 years compared to 27% across England, 26% in Shropshire and 31% in Telford and Wrekin – Herefordshire had the 4th lowest rate across England.  The proportion of young people that were reported as being poorly prepared for work was highest for those recruited at 17-18 years old from school with around a third of employers reporting this.


[1] The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership skills plan

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Last updated: Thursday, July 19, 2018