* More than four in ten people of working age in the UK have no formal qualifications and only 30 per cent of managers have degrees, compared with 90 per cent in Japan
* Although schools are raising standards for pupils betwween 4 and 19, a vast tail of under-achievement has been virtually untouched - what David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, described as "the lost generation".
* More people are achieving foundation and advanced-level qualifications and degrees than ever before, but our competitors are moving faster
* More than 1 million people have never worked for a significant length of time but have moved from unemployment to different government training schemes for up to 15 years
* Figures from the National Advisory Council on Education and Training Targets show that levels ofachievement inprosperous central and southern England exceed targets. In disadvantaged inner-city and older industrial areas, they are well below
* Student achievement levels are less influenced by disadvantage and spending levels than by strengths of leadership, management and the quality of teaching