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Census 2011 Results


Profile 9 What We Know – Education, skills and the Irish language


The Central Statistics Office today released the latest publication in its series of Census 2011 results, showing that in April 2011 younger people were significantly better educated than their older counterparts, with almost 43 per cent of people aged 20 to 39 possessing a third level qualification, compared with only 13 per cent of those aged 65 and over.

Today’s publication, “Profile 9 What We Know – Education, skills and the Irish language”, presents a profile of the education and skills of the Irish population, focusing in detail on age leaving education and field of study in which qualifications are held.

Deirdre Cullen, Senior Statistician at the CSO: “This report provides further analysis of a number of important themes from the Census 2011 results. Firstly it examines the level of education of the Irish population looking in detail at the age education ceased, the relationship with economic status, industry and occupational group and the different fields of study in which qualifications are held. The report also looks at the Irish language, examining the location of Irish speakers and the frequency with which the language is spoken.”

The full report is available on the CSO website at along with all the data which is available in a range of interactive web tables, allowing users to build their own tables by selecting the data they are interested in and downloading it in an easy to use format for their own analysis.

Ms Cullen concluded “This report provides an overview of the education and skills of the Irish people in 2011, containing yet more analysis and results from Census 2011 on this very important theme. Further details on these results, and all census data, from county level right down to town, electoral division and Small Area level is available on the census page of the CSO web site.”


Highlights of the report


Levels of Education


The educational attainment of people aged 15 and over improved significantly over the twenty years from 1991 to 2011 with the greatest gains in the numbers of those with a third level qualification, rising from just 14 per cent in 1991 to 31 per cent by 2011.


Age education ceased


Over 3 million persons aged 15 and over had completed their full time education in April 2011 with an overall average age of completion of 19.1 years.


Third level Qualifications


Overall 26 per cent of people aged 15 and over who had completed their full time education had a third level degree or higher in 2011. 28 per cent of women were third level graduates compared with only 23 per cent of men. Of the total number of graduates (739,992) in April 2011, 413,257 (56%) were women while 326,735 (44%) were men.

The percentage of persons aged 15 and over with a third level qualification varied greatly by county with the highest at 40 per cent in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and the lowest, at 17 per cent, in Limerick city.


Education and marriage


The results indicate that the likelihood of being married increases with education attainment. Among those aged 35 to 44 just 58 per cent of those with a lower secondary level education were married compared with 65 per cent for those with an upper secondary level qualification and 69 per cent for those with a third level qualification.


Early school leavers


Over 389,000 persons completed their full-time education before the age of 16, of whom 55 per cent (213,895) were aged 60 or over. A further 43,741 were aged under 40. There were 25,509 persons aged between 20 and 34 who completed their full-time education aged 15 or younger.


Industrial sector


The industrial sectors with the largest absolute number of persons with third level qualifications were education (113,317), human health activities (68,116), retail trade (38,463), social work activities (34,624) and financial services activities (31,645).

Percentagewise almost 80 per cent of 5,301 persons who had a job in professional management consultancy services had a third level qualification, as did more than three quarters of those in scientific research and development. Almost two thirds of the over 68,000 persons working in IT and communications had a third level qualification.


Field of Study


The social sciences, business and law category was by far the most popular field of study among all those with post-secondary school qualifications in 2011. Just under 300,000 persons in the labour force were qualified in this area.




Almost 22,000 people aged 15 and over who had completed their education held a Doctorate (Ph.D) level qualification in April 2011. This represented a significant increase of over 52 per cent on 2006.


Parent’s level of education and educational participation


Twenty year olds with both parents educated to third level had an 89 per cent chance of being a student with 4,012 out of a total 4,500 in this group still in full-time education. Among those for whom both parents were educated no higher than lower secondary only 45 per cent were students, while for those with two parents educated to upper secondary level only, 68 per cent were still in full-time education.


Irish Language


There were 77,185 persons speaking Irish on a daily basis outside of the education system in April 2011. Twenty three per cent of these were aged 5 to 18 (17,457 persons), a further 23,359 (30%) were in the age group 25-44. There were 42,157 females speaking Irish on a daily basis in 2011 compared with 35,028 males.


Location of irish speakers


Fifty one per cent of the population of Galway county could speak Irish in 2011 - the highest of any county. Clare (48%), North Tipperary (47%) and Limerick county (47%) were the next highest administrative counties while Dublin City (32%), South Dublin (36%) and Louth (36%) had the lowest percentages.

Due to the size of its population, Dublin city and its suburbs had the largest number of daily Irish speakers with 14,229 persons representing 18 per cent of all daily speakers. Cork, Galway and Limerick cities combined had 6,336 daily speakers accounting for over 8 per cent of the total.


Higher educational attainment


Daily Irish speakers were more highly educated than the population generally. Of those daily Irish speakers who had completed their education, 44 per cent had a third level degree or higher. This compared to a rate of 26 per cent for the State overall.


The Gaeltacht areas


A total of 66,238 persons (aged 3 or over) or 68.5 per cent of persons in the Gaeltacht areas said that they could speak Irish in 2011. This was an increase of 1,973 persons over 2006, however, the proportion who spoke Irish has dropped from 70 per cent in 2006.

The number of daily speakers outside of the education system in the Gaeltacht areas was 23,175 persons or 24 per cent of all persons aged 3 or over in these areas.



For copies of the publication:

To view and download the publication, visit the CSO website at


For further information contact:


Cormac Halpin on (01) 895 1355

Central Statistics Office, Swords Business Campus, Balheary Road, Swords, Co. Dublin.

Census Enquiries: (01) 895 1460

Fax: 01 895 1399






Central Statistics Office                                                              22 November 2012



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