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Education and Economic Status

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Work prospects and age education ceased

As in 2011, Census 2016 shows unemployed persons finished education at an earlier age than those who were at work. 

There were 255,663 people aged 15 and over who had ceased their education and were unemployed.  Among those with stated age education ceased, Census 2016 shows that 42.9 per cent (down from 49.0% in 2011) had completed their full-time education by age 18 while 11.4 per cent (down from 13.4% five years earlier) had completed their education aged 15 or under.

In contrast, among the 1.9 million persons who were at work and had completed their education, only 29.8 per cent had completed their education before they turned 19 (but also down on 2011 when it was 35.4%). Census 2016 also shows that 32.4 per cent did not complete their education until they were at least 21 years old which was an increase from 29.4 per cent in 2011.

Outside labour forceUnemployedAt work
15 and under 201158.130160621123112.931078749537928.938760629339
15 and under 201661.90839991194799.4727232703588128.6188768176933
16 years 201136.725124692578217.352380076769345.9224952306525
16 years 201640.984302454123411.472031837276147.5436657086005
17 years 201127.662707452001315.447852261633656.8894402863651
17 years 201630.183816266430210.239223019070859.576960714499
18 years 201125.330771769491413.74148418654760.9277440439616
18 years 201627.4460325338368.964371155637163.5895963105269
19-20 years 201118.805965235712411.406620358177569.7874144061101
19-20 years 201620.97519896276726.893762845553272.1310381916796
21-22 years 201113.11100257192337.3523534977132879.5366439303634
21-22 years 201614.52477802018594.1865719718778981.2886500079362
23+ years 201115.21698651013969.0212188141871375.7617946756733
23+ years 201616.13532483369786.0153030115483277.8493721547539

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Early school leavers

In total 308,908 persons completed their full-time education before the age of 16 in 2016 (down from 389,488 five years earlier). Among these people, 190,470 or 61.7 per cent were aged 60 or over. This is up from 54.9% in 2011 meaning the number of early school leavers are declining and ageing.

The labour force participation rate for the early school leavers was 38.1 per cent compared with 61.4 per cent for the population generally, reflecting the older age profile of this group. Unemployment among early school leavers was 24.9 per cent, almost double the overall unemployment rate of 12.9 per cent.

There were 14,971 persons aged between 20 and 34 who completed their full-time education aged 15 or younger. Among this group, labour force participation was relatively high at 75.7 per cent but the unemployment rate was over three times the national figure at 42.6 per cent, see figure 2.2.

In the older age group of 35 to 59 year olds, early school leavers labour force participation was 71.1 per cent and unemployment was 24.5 per cent.

15 and under42.654.1

Education attainment by industry

Figure 2.3 presents the industrial groups (NACE Rev. 2) by stated level of completed educational attainment for persons at work in 2016.

The sector agriculture, forestry and fishing had the highest percentage of persons educated to primary level or lower at 18.0% (of 83,421 workers), while the financial and insurance activities sector reported the least at 0.4 per cent (of 85,312 workers).

Wholesale and retail trade (including repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles) had the highest percentage of workers with upper secondary as the highest level of education achieved at 43.4 per cent of a work force of 238,898 persons. This was closely followed by accommodation and food services activities at 42.3 per cent (of 96,567 workers).

Just over 70 per cent of the 164,658 workers were educated to third level degree or higher in the education sector, the highest for this educational attainment category among all the broad sectors, followed by information and communications (with 69.5% of 82,116 workers).

Third level degree and higher Third level non degreeUpper secondaryLower secondaryNo formal/primary
Education 70.210.313.54.31.7
Information & Communication69.511.315.92.70.6
Professional, scientific & technical69.210.915.83.50.7
Financial & insurance67.510.719.61.80.4
Extraterritorial organisations & bodies66.110.417.25.21.1
Human health & social work54.711.423.37.43.1
Real estate49.315.926.46.71.8
Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply45.823.920.28.31.8
Public administration & defence45.113.730.682.6
Arts, entertaintment & recreation42.613.631.19.63.1
Household employers29.717.838.310.83.5
Administrative & support service29.514.535.114.76.1
Water supply, sewerage, waste management25.914.933.219.66.5
Accommodation and food service2317.142.312.75
Wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles22.814.243.415.54.1
Other service activities21.321.637.415.54.3
Mining and quarying2015.629.626.68.2
Transportation and storage17.113.239.423.17.2
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 9.616.130.226.118
Industry not stated21.812.432.919.713.1

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Third level qualified workers

A more detailed breakdown of the top ten industrial groups with the highest percentage of workers with a third level degree or higher qualification can be seen in Table 2.1.

Of the total work force of 1,756,688 persons with a stated level of education attainment (and had ceased their full time education) 40.4 per cent indicated they were educated to a third level degree or higher.

Fund management activities with 6,594 workers had the highest percentage of persons within this educational category at 86.9 per cent.  This was followed by the sector higher education (83.7% of a total 26,782 persons) and the secondary education sector (83.3% of 39,179 persons).

The sector with the largest absolute number of persons with third level degree or higher was the hospital activities sector with 48,980 workers (accounting for 63.4% of the total workforce in this sector).

Table 2.1 Top ten industrial groups (NACE Rev .2) with highest percentage of workers with a third level degree or higher, 2016
SectorNo formal/ primaryLower secondaryUpper secondaryThird level non degreeThird level degree and higher
Fund management activities5485304126,594
Higher education2556511,9971,46722,412
Secondary education5511,2753,0831,62432,646
Scientific research development251094703344,553
Primary education7081,9845,8913,08039,707
Computer programming, consultancy and information service activities1586826,0295,41740,956
Accounting, book-keeping, auditing activities and tax consultancy773462,8511,90316,560
Activities of head offices and management consultancy services441311,1566566,007
Activities auxiliary to financial intermediation, except insurance and pension funding261561,3088516,997
Legal activities776283,6031,32013,579
Other (including not stated)75,218200,860485,535233,769519,377

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Third level education and occupations

The teaching and educational professionals occupation group contained the highest proportion of third level degrees or higher of all occupational groups with 94.7 per cent (of 94,866 workers with stated education attainment).

Among business, media and public service professionals, 89.9 per cent (of 92,728 workers) held a third level degree or higher, while 89.7 per cent of health professions also had a third level degree or higher qualification.

Just over half (51.8% in 2016 compared with 45.9% in 2011) of workers in the occupation group corporate managers and directors held a third level degree or higher qualification.

In absolute terms, the occupation group teaching and educational professionals also had the highest number of workers with third level degrees or higher qualifications (89,838), followed by business, media and public service professionals (83,374), health professionals (74,836) and science, research, engineering and technology professionals (71,043).

Secondary level

More than one in three (34.5%) of the 61,910 professionals in the occupation group transport and mobile machine drivers and operatives, who had completed their education, were educated at lower secondary level only – the highest percentage of any occupational group.

Just over half (51.4%) of secretarial and related occupations indicated that their highest level of education attainment was upper secondary and was the occupational group with the highest proportion in this education category.

Third level degree and higherThird level non degreeUpper secondaryLower secondaryNo formal/Primary
Teaching and educational professionals94.6998924799193.628275673054621.391436341787360.2087154512681040.0716800539708642
Business, media and public service professionals89.91243205935645.027607626606854.395651798809420.5262703821930810.138038133034251
Health professionals89.72388408646766.955051734266912.945795916409890.2985360940928220.0767321687628137
Science, research, engineering and technology professionals83.5603387438259.055516349094336.127969889437781.067984003763820.188191013879087
Business and public service associate professionals61.192615035702312.968869044455120.79590354187714.160243803043990.882368574921597
Science, engineering and technology associate professionals57.47687182080520.001784811256218.1188089359553.736204896332210.666329535651605
Culture, media and sports occupations57.030588394702114.230547745672622.44842654381635.091290945428681.19914637038041
Health and social care associate professionals55.609588368209119.884075056488918.01748698300424.710678848609881.77817074368799
Corporate managers and directors51.775870831541512.627546033855926.20020329176287.686969779897571.70941006294226
Protective service occupations44.237136465324416.621923937360230.29530201342287.525727069351231.31991051454139
Customer service occupations41.08359569569114.632771016399637.13171373525685.864386072083081.28753348056952
Administrative occupations37.778713168971715.473241130487139.19482862297056.41611545399881.13710162357186
Other managers and proprietors37.334546657842516.059315023163531.938699536730611.07916942422243.58826935804103
Caring personal service occupations24.515559815700317.925648371039241.493568028581711.51655102552094.5486727591578
Secretarial and related occupations21.357006251248815.305569034909951.44863414494910.30456997687891.58422059201324
Sales occupations17.608092739280510.982860791316750.252399289690516.45982561503624.69682156467607
Process, plant and machine operatives14.471362344848213.213698220427744.561088679527421.10662479437716.6472259608195
Lesiure, travel and related personal service occupations14.21305778657421.045727567716840.45980714795318.1368375025896.14456999516719
Textiles, printing and other skilled trades13.935835604948624.369888865590338.66638708324617.13147410358575.89641434262948
Skilled metal, electrical and electronic trades13.053351573187439.896032831737329.32831737346114.77017783857732.95212038303694
Elementary administration and service occupations12.338378359151310.187276575310846.280256816120421.75111601188049.44297223753713
Elementary trades and related occupations11.252877342979311.065439000328838.306478132193427.155540940480112.2196645840184

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