Qualifications gap emerges in new study

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One in three adults lack any qualifications in Britain's worst educational blackspots, according to an analysis by the University and College Union.

The study reveals wide differences in the educational achievements of adults across the country. In some areas, as many as a third of 16 to 64-year-olds lack any qualifications, while in others the proportion is as low as two per cent.

The University and College Union, which conducted the analysis, warned the figures show that Britain is divided into 'the haves and the have nots'.

The study is based on an analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showing the proportions of adults of working age (16-64) with no qualifications in 2010.

The findings show that 11.3% of British adults do not have any qualifications. In England, this figure is 11.1%, in Wales it is 13.3% and in Scotland 12.3%.

UCU analysed the qualification rates for 632 parliamentary constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales.

It found that in constituencies such as Glasgow North East and Birmingham Hodge Hill more than a third of adults of working age have no qualifications (35.3% and 33.3% respectively).

At the other end of the scale, just 1.9% of adults in Brent North lack any qualifications, while in Romsey and Southampton North the figure is 2.3%.

The union said that further analysis of 21 cities and their surrounding areas highlighted examples of 'haves and have nots' living side by side.

As an example, those living in the constituency of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central are nearly twice as likely to have no qualifications (17%) than those in nearby Newcastle-upon-Tyne North (9.7%), the union claimed.

And in Bristol East, 13.2% have no qualifications, compared with 6.7% in Bristol West.

UCU said that people in areas with the lowest levels of qualifications were likely to suffer most from Government policies which the union says will restrict access to education.

These include the Government's plans to triple tuition fees, and scrapping the education maintenance allowance (EMA) - a grant handed to the poorest teenagers to help them stay in education.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "We have two Britains divided between the educational haves and have nots and we have cities and counties where people with access to education are living alongside those with far fewer opportunities."

She added: "Education is central to our country's future, yet in some areas thousands of people still have no qualifications.

"There is a real danger that children, growing up in places where it is not unheard of to have no qualifications, will have their ambition blunted and never realise their full potential."

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