Qualifications in Northern Ireland 2020

Date published: 21 October 2021


The Qualifications in Northern Ireland 2020 publication was released at 9.30am today. This paper examines the levels of highest qualifications held by working age adults (16 to 64) in Northern Ireland, as sourced from the Labour Force Survey. The paper also contains a lifelong learning indicator, designed to capture the level of participation in education and training following the completion of formal education (25 to 64).

Key points

  • Between 2016 and 2020, there has been a general increase in the proportion of working age adults with qualifications, where 87.0% held a qualification in 2020 (and 13.0% reported having no qualification).
  • A higher proportion of females and those aged 25 to 34 were qualified to Level 2 and above.
  • A higher proportion of males and 16 to 24 year olds held a highest qualification between Level 3 and 5.
  • The proportion of people aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training (as measured by the lifelong learning indicator) in NI was consistently lower than the UK.
  • Those aged 50 to 64 were the least likely to participate in education or training, and for those who did engage, the highest participation rate was for those qualified to Level 6 and above (equivalent to first degree or higher). 
  • There has been an increasing proportion of working age adults holding at least a level 6 qualification since 2016, where females and those aged between 25 and 34 had higher proportions.

The statistical bulletin and associated tables can be found on the Qualifications in NI 2020 page.

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