UK could lose world-class skills ranking

20th August 2010 at 01:00

The UK is set to fall behind in the international race for skills and economic competitiveness, despite hundreds of millions of pounds invested in recent years.

The annual report of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) on progression towards the Government ambition of "world-class skills" found that although the UK was making progress, competitors were moving faster.

On current trends, based on data from 2007, the UK is heading for rankings of 20th out of 30 for low-level skills, 21st for intermediate skills and 11th for high-level skills by 2020 - below world-class (defined as the top quartile) in every category and lower than the position today.

Chris Humphries, UKCES chief executive, said: "At the moment, our economy is still world-class - quite an achievement for such a small island. But we're living on past glories.

"Economic success rests on three legs - skills, jobs and productivity - and we are well below average on the first of these. Unless swift and decisive action is taken, we can expect the UK's economy to begin to slide down the international rankings.

"The commission hopes and believes that the UK can continue to be a world- class nation, with some of the best skilled workers and the best businesses."

The UK is on course to exceed its domestic target for 40 per cent of the workforce to have qualifications at level 4 or above. But the numbers with A-level equivalents, or level 3, are predicted to fall short by nine percentage points from a target of 28 per cent, prompting fears of a gap in intermediate skills.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today