Fact file 1: the challenge facing britain

13th June 1997 at 01:00
The scale of the challenge facing the UK in its drive to be competitive is illustrated by the following facts: * Just 34 per cent of school leavers reach higher education compared with 45 per cent in the USA, 65 per cent in Germany and 70 per cent in Japan

* The recent National Commission on Education concluded that the majority of young people in the UK under-achieve and a significant minority fail

* One in four 19-year-olds are classified as functionally illiterate, facing virtually life-time unemployment within the legal economy. The cost to business is Pounds 10 billion - a third of the annual training bill

* By the year 2000 half of all new jobs will require degree-level education followed by frequent retraining to improve skills

* Post-16 stay-on rates have risen rapidly to 75 per cent - partly because of unemployment, but Britain still ranks 15 out of 19 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Devel-opment) countries with 17-year-olds in education

* In maths and science our top 5 per cent are among the world leaders at 9 -13, but the least able 50 per cent trail international competitors including South Korea, Hungary and China

Source: OECD

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