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Education key to finding a job and better pay, according to new analysis

13 August 2013

Better-qualified people are far less likely to be unemployed and more likely to earn higher wages when in work, according to new analysis of OECD data released today by UCU as part of its Knowledge Economy campaign.

The analysis, released as thousands of A-level students await their potentially life-changing results on Thursday, shows that people with just a basic education are almost three times as likely to be unemployed as those with a degree and almost twice as likely to be jobless as those with A-levels or equivalent qualifications.

Meanwhile, people educated to degree level earn, on average, more than double those with basic schooling and 57% more than those with A-Levels or equivalent.

'We must learn to celebrate and invest in education more in this country rather than denigrate those who seek to better themselves.'
Simon Renton
UCU president

The union said that despite the trend in recent years for commentators and politicians to belittle the achievement of better qualifications, the analysis shows clearly that education remains the best way to improve individual life chances.

The analysis comes after a weekend YouGov poll revealed that just one in 10 people (12%)  think a university degree at an institution outside the 'top 20' is worth the £9,000 a year fees^.

Young people receiving their A-level results this week deserve to be recognised for their achievements and given real academic and vocational choices for the future according to UCU.

The analysis revealed that of UK 25-64 year olds:

  • over one in ten people (11%) with basic schooling (below upper secondary education) are unemployed compared to 3.9% of people educated to degree level.
  • people with a degree earn, on average, 57% more than those educated to upper secondary level, who in turn earn 31% more than those with basic schooling.

UCU president, Simon Renton, said: 'Education is a powerful force for good in our society. It provides the best opportunity people have to get on in life.

'This new analysis is a powerful antidote to those commentators and politicians who every year tell us that standards are falling and that learning is pointless. We must learn to celebrate and invest in education more in this country rather than denigrate those who seek to better themselves and those, like teachers and lecturers, who help them along the way.

'Young people receiving their A-level results this week deserve to be recognised for their achievements and given real academic and vocational choices so they can pursue the path in life that best matches their talents and gives them the best chance of success.'

More information on the Knowledge Economy campaign can be found at www.knowledgeeconomy.org.uk

Highest level completed (25-64yo)*

% Employment

% Unemployed

Relative earnings (upper secondary
=100)

Pre-primary and primary education

21

n/a

Lower secondary education

43

14.6

ISCED 3C (short programme)

66

9

Below upper secondary - GCSEs equivalent

56

11

69

Upper secondary education

ISCED 3C (long programme)/3B (left at 16)

78

6.2

ISCED 3A (left at 18)

78

4.6

Upper secondary education - A-levels

78

5.9

100

Tertiary education

Type B

82

3.7

Tertiary-type A and advanced research programmes

84

3.9

All Tertiary education - degree level

83

3.9

157

Source: Education at a Glance 2013, OECD Indicators | Table A.5.3a, Table A.5.4a, Table A.6.1 (.pdf)
* Levels of education and training in theEU Labour Force Survey
YouGov/Sunday Times 8-9 August 2013 (.pdf)


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