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Education improves the well-being of both young and old

People of all ages benefit from learning, and the gaining of new skills substantially contributes to National Well-being, according to a report published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Whether the learner is in school or an apprentice or employee looking to gain vocational skills to further their careers, or an older person wanting to remain physically and mentally active by taking part in adult education classes or taking up a new hobby, learning builds up self confidence and increases self-esteem.

Yesterday ONS publishes an article on Education and skills, as part of its long-term programme on the measurement of National Well-being. This project links a whole range of statistics, including crime, health, education, the environment and other events affecting the lives of the nation, with the accumulation of grass-roots opinion, in order to help people understand and monitor national well-being.

By linking subjective measures – listening to people – with in-depth and substantial analysis, then evidence can be supplied to help develop the policies of local and national government to improve the lives of all people in the United Kingdom.

The article on Education and skills gives evidence-based material which can help develop these policies including:

·         Children who live in relatively poor households have lower levels of outcome from their education

·         There was a decrease of 3.3 per cent between 2009/10 and 2010/11 in the number of first-year enrolments in UK higher education institutes, almost entirely caused by the fall in numbers of part-time students

·         In 2011 employers reported that about 1.5 million employees had skills gaps.

On the positive side, between 1993 and 2011 the proportion of adults  aged 16 to 64 without any formal education qualifications has more than halved from 27 per cent to 11 per cent, and the proportion with a degree or equivalent has more than doubled from 11 per cent to 24 per cent.

The article also shows that those with no formal educational qualifications report a lower level of satisfaction with life.

 The ONS Measuring National Well-being project is aimed at producing research and analysis which can provide the evidence to produce policies to help these groups have a better quality of life.

The article Education and skills can be found at

Background notes

  1. More information about the Measuring National Well-being Programme and all publications from the Programme are available at

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