The Department for the Economy has today published a statistical bulletin entitled Essential Skills Enrolments and Outcomes in Northern Ireland from 2002/03 to 2019/20.
This publication presents a range of analysis regarding the numbers and characteristics of those enrolling and qualifying in Essential Skills since the start of the Strategy in 2002/03.
• Since 2002/03, 233,257 individuals have participated in 585,454 Essential Skills enrolments and achieved 378,264 qualifications (Tables 1 and 12).
• For a variety of reasons, including a dip in the 16-19 year old population (the main age group taking Essential Skills) and improvements in GCSE grades, annual enrolments have been decreasing for nine years in a row, from a peak of 59,994 in 2010/11 to 26,768 in 2019/20 (Table 1).
• Both enrolments and qualifications issued decreased by around 9% in 2019/20. This can be attributed largely to the effect the COVID-19 outbreak has had on the education sector (Tables 1 and 12).
• While those aged 16-19 have accounted for 60.3% of enrolments over the full history of the Essential Skills Strategy, they made up 71.8% of enrolments in 2019/20. The historical share of those aged 45 and over is 8.9%, although this was lower (5.5%) in 2019/20 (Table 3).
• Generally, the more deprived an area is, the higher the number of Essential Skills enrolments from those living in that area. Over the 18 years of the Strategy, over half of enrolments (52.8%) have been from the two most deprived ‘quintiles’ (Table 6).
• Approaching two in every three (65.1%) Essential Skills enrolments result in a qualification being issued. Numeracy accounted for 37.2% of qualifications issued in the most recent academic year, while a further third (33.3%) were in Literacy and 29.5% were in ICT (Tables 16 and 18).
• Almost half (48.4%) of Essential Skills qualifications issued since 2002/03 have been at Level 2 (equivalent to GCSE grades A*-C), a further 32.4% at Level 1 and 19.2% at Entry Level (Table 13).
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