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Introduction and Summary of Results

This release has been compiled during the COVID-19 crisis using data from the Labour Force Survey. The results contained in this release reflect some of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 situation. For further information see: Information Note - Implications of COVID-19 on the Labour Force Survey.

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The Educational Attainment Thematic Report is compiled using data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). It is a household survey which replaced the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) at the beginning of Q3 2017. Interviews took place in Q2 2021. The LFS is the official source of quarterly labour force estimates for Ireland including the official rates of employment and unemployment. Questions on educational attainment are included in the core LFS questionnaire each quarter. The Educational Attainment Thematic Report presents the LFS data for adults between 18 and 64 years old with differing levels of educational attainment based on these questions.

As the Central Statistics Office (CSO) is obliged to follow standard definitions and methodology when calculating official estimates from the LFS, it has been decided to compile the Quarter 2 2021 LFS estimates in the usual way, without adjustment for COVID-19 impacts, such as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). The separate COVID-19 adjusted estimates are available at a national level within the LFS publication. See the Labour Force Survey Q2 2021:

Labour Force Survey (LFS) Quarter 2 2021

The rates of employment and unemployment listed in the Educational Attainment Thematic Report are not adjusted for COVID-19 impacts, as adjustments were just calculated at the aggregated level and are indicative of the upper (unemployment) and lower (employment) levels for the overall population. This approach does not allow for a disaggregated level of detail such as adjusted COVID-19 employment figures by educational attainment.

Results presented in this report incorporate adjustments to the historic LFS data series to take account of revisions to enable comparability with the new LFS for headline indicators. Data in this report also uses the new NUTS regional groupings and IESS revisions.

Due to changes to the questionnaire, the interview mode, the introduction of a new sample, data processing changes and other methodological enhancements, there are changes in the levels of some series. Therefore, the Q2 2021 data may not be directly comparable to Q2 2017 and earlier series, and users should note this when examining annual changes over the time series.

Further information is available in the background notes and in the information notes which accompanied the Q3 2017 and Q1 2018 LFS releases.  See: Information Notice - Labour Force Survey Quarter 3 2017 and Information Notice - Labour Force Survey Quarter 1 2018

For IESS detail see: Labour Force Survey Q1 2021 Background Notes

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Higher educational attainment levels are linked with higher employment rates. This is most notable for persons aged 25-64 years with a third level qualification - this cohort have an employment rate of 85%, compared to persons age 25-64 years with no formal education/primary education having an employment rate of just 32% in Q2 2021. Conversely, those with no formal education/primary education had an unemployment rate of 11%, compared to those holding a third level qualification with an unemployment rate of 4%. The proportion of those aged 25-64 years old with a third level qualification was 53% in Q2 2021, while 4% reported that they had primary education/no formal education only. See Table 1.1.

Table 1.1 Highest level of education attained by persons aged 25-64, classified by employment and unemployment rates, Q2 2021

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In 2020, Ireland had a higher rate of third level education in comparison to the EU-27 average. The highest rate was for 25-34 year olds (58% holding a tertiary level qualification) in comparison to the EU-27 average of 41%. Across all age groups, more persons in Ireland have a tertiary level qualification than the EU average. The largest difference in third level education levels between Ireland and the EU average are seen in the 35-44 and the 45-54 year old cohorts, with an 18 percentage point difference in both. See Table 1.2.

Looking at individual countries, Finland has the highest third level attainment rate for 45-54 year olds in the EU-27 at 51%, while Romania has the lowest at 15%. See Eurostat table.

Table 1.2 Tertiary level educational attainment by age group, Ireland and EU-27 average, 2020

Go to next chapter:  Labour Market Status