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England and Northern Ireland in relegation zone of international education league table

13 November 2014

England and Northern Ireland are propping up an international league table that ranks how many people have professional education and training qualifications, according to a new report released today.

As employer demand for technical qualifications is increasing, the Skills Beyond School report shows that only Poland, the Czech Republic and Netherlands are performing worse than England and Northern Ireland.

Responding to the report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), UCU said it was concerned that only 10% of people in England have professional education and training qualifications of the type increasingly demanded by employers.

The union said the figures showed that the government must continue to champion vocational education alongside academic routes. It said people needed the broadest possible choice of qualifications if employers were to get the skilled employees they need.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'For too long, vocational qualifications haven't received the attention they deserve. England and Northern Ireland are now languishing near the bottom of the table behind countries like Germany, Australia, Japan and the US.

'More and more employers are demanding technical and professional qualifications from their employees. The government must invest properly in both academic and vocational routes so that people of all ages can access the right education for them whenever they need it, and the UK can remain globally competitive.'

Last updated: 10 December 2015