13/01/2023 - Permalink

Census 2021 data: how well qualified is our population?

Related topics: Children's services / Corporate

The 2021 Census took place across England and Wales in March 2021 and the first results are being released by the Office for National Statistics on a topic by topic basis. This week has seen the release of the latest data, which focuses on education.

Census data can be used to identify the number of schoolpupils and students (aged 5 and over) in full-time education. There were almost 50,000 schoolpupils and full-time students in 2021 in Shropshire, out of a total 309,200 usual residents aged 5 and over. This represents 16.2% of the 5 plus population, compared with 20.4% for England.

Census 2021 helps us to understand education across the country through usual residents’ highest level of qualification. Residents aged 16 years and over were asked to record any qualifications (including academic, vocational, and professional qualifications) they had achieved in England, Wales or worldwide. This has been used to calculate the highest level of qualification according to the following categories:

  • No qualifications: no formal qualifications
  • Level 1: one to four GCSE passes (grade A* to C or grade 4 and above) and any other GCSEs at other grades, or equivalent qualifications
  • Level 2: five or more GCSE passes (grade A* to C or grade 4 and above) or equivalent qualifications
  • Apprenticeships
  • Level 3: two or more A Levels or equivalent qualifications
  • Level 4 or above: Higher National Certificate, Higher National Diploma, Bachelor’s degree, or post-graduate qualifications
  • Other qualifications, of unknown level.

More than three in 10 usual residents aged 16 years and over in Shropshire had Level 4 or above qualifications, equating to 88,500 people. The proportion educated to this level is slightly lower in Shropshire than nationally (32.5% compared with 33.9% in England), but has risen from 27.5% since Census 2011.

In 2021, one in six (16.7%, or 45,600 people) reported having no qualifications. This compares with 18.1% in England.

Across England, apprenticeships were the highest qualification for 5.3% of people; in Shropshire, this proportion stood at 6.1% (16,600 people).

Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and education, said:-

The release of this data is very much welcome. The breadth of  information generated by the Census will help us to improve decisions made about health care, employment, housing and social services as well as education to improve the lives of people living in Shropshire.”

David Shaw, Shropshire Council’s assistant director of education and achievement, added:- –

“Census data related to education allows us to understand not only exactly how many children, young people and adults are in full-time education, but also to gain insight into how qualification levels are changing over time. In turn, this helps to inform policy decisions in terms of education and training provision.”

For further information, including an interactive map, and to find out more about the Census 2021 results, people can visit the ONS website.

Further information and analysis for Shropshire will be added to the Shropshire Council 2021 Census webpages, as further results become available. It is important that the results and analysis are widely accessible to all. The council is aiming to publish the early headlines and infographics, followed by the development of area profiles, interactive tools and topic-based analysis.

Please note all figures have been rounded.