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Skills and Qualification Levels in Lincolnshire


  • Lincolnshire has a higher proportion of people whose highest qualifications is Level 2 or below than both East Midlands and England and Wales.
  • Lincolnshire has lower proportion of people qualified to Level 4 and above than both the East Midland and England and Wales.
  • Although not directly comparable with results from 2001, the 2011 Census results show little change in Lincolnshire's position relative to the national average.


The following analysis of the latest 2011 Census information on qualification levels of the population looks at how Lincolnshire currently compares to the national picture as well as its surrounding areas which comprise the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Please note that a direct comparison with 2001 Census results has not been possible as the 2011 Census measures the highest of qualification in the 16 years and older population, whereas the 2001 Census used the 16 to 74 year old age group. Qualifications in the Census are denoted by Levels 1 to 4, which broadly equate to the following:

  • Level 1 – 1 to 4 GCSEs (any grades)
  • Level 2 – 5+ GCSEs (Grades A*-C)
  • Level 3 – 2+ A Levels
  • Level 4 – Degree level and higher

The Current Situation

Referring to Table 1, the results from the census show that Lincolnshire has generally a higher proportion of people (57%) with lower level qualifications (Level 2 or below) than nationally (51%), and a lower proportion (21%) with higher level qualifications (Level 4 and above) than nationally (27%).

Table 1 - % of population (aged 16 and above) with specified highest level of qualification

Source: 2011 Census, Office for National Statistics

Area Population (aged 16 and above) None Level 2 and below1 Level 3 Level 4 and above Apprentice-ships
Lincolnshire 591,775 26 57 12 21 4.2
Boston 53,275 33 62 9 15 3.3
East Lindsey 115,418 33 62 11 18 4.3
Lincoln 78,190 22 51 18 21 3.7
North Kesteven 88,700 22 53 13 25 4.4
South Holland 73,354 31 63 10 16 3.7
South Kesteven 109,085 22 53 12 26 4.6
West Lindsey 73,753 23 53 12 25 5.1
North Lincolnshire 136,105 26 59 12 20 4.9
North East Lincolnshire 129,377 30 63 11 16 4.6
Greater Lincolnshire LEP 857,257 27 58 12 20 4.4
Rutland 30,683 18 47 13 33 3.6
East Midlands 3,694,767 25 54 13 24 4.0
England and Wales 45,496,780 23 51 12 27 3.6

1Please note that the category 'Level 2 and below' includes the category 'None'. There is also a category of 'Other' which is not shown in the table. This means that totals will not add up to 100%.

The Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership area has an even higher proportion of people with a highest qualification of Level 2 and below at 58%. Lincolnshire has the lowest proportion in the LEP with North East Lincolnshire having the highest at 63%.

Within Lincolnshire the districts of Boston, South Holland, and East Lindsey all have over 62% of their population (aged 16 and above) with a Level 2 or below qualification as their highest qualification. The remaining county districts are much closer to the national average with Lincoln having the lowest proportion at 51%, in line with the national average.

In terms of the local authority districts population qualified to Level 4 and above, the difference from the national average is greatest in the east of the county with Boston having the lowest level at 15%. The highest rate is in South Kesteven at 26% which is just below the national average.

Distribution of Qualification Levels in Lincolnshire

Figure 1 demonstrates the differences in qualification levels below the county level, clearly showing the lower skills profiles in Boston, East Lindsey and South Holland.

Figure 1 - Distribution of Qualification Levels in Lincolnshire's Local Authority Districts

Source: 2011 Census, Office for National Statistics

Chart showing distribution of qualification levels for local authorities

Figure 2 groups Lincolnshire’s local authority districts into east Lincolnshire (Boston, East Lindsey, and South Holland) and west Lincolnshire (Lincoln, North Kesteven, South Kesteven, and West Lindsey).

Grouping the districts like this shows how Lincolnshire is split east/west for both the upper and lower end of the qualification range, with the western districts having a higher proportion of people with qualifications of Level 4 and above. For people with no qualifications the situation is reversed with higher proportions in the eastern districts.

Figure 2 - Distribution of Qualification Levels in Lincolnshire

Source: 2011 Census, Office for National Statistics

Chart showing distribution of qualification levels for the county

Figure 2 also shows the similarity of the distribution of qualifications levels in the western districts to the national average.

The level of qualification in the population is a reflection of the historical pattern of industry distribution throughout the county. In the past the economy of the east, with higher levels of employment provided by agriculture and tourism, has had less need of higher skilled workers. These industries are also seasonal with people on short term contracts having less access to training and progression. This is likely to alter over time with the changing skill requirements of both the food industry and the visitor economy.

The maps in Figure 3 go below local authority district level and show qualifications data at Lower Super Output Area (LSOA). Even at this lower geographical level the same pattern of lower qualification levels in the east of the county emerges albeit in more detail. They also clearly indicate that the coastal region in particular has lower levels of people with level 4 and above qualifications and a higher level of people with no qualifications.

Figure 3 - Highest Level of Qualification, Age 16 and above, %

Source: 2011 Census, Office for National Statistics

Maps showing distribution of qualifications across the county

View this data in more detail on an interactive map.

Further Research

To date only a limited set of 2011 Census qualifications data has been released by Office for National Statistics. As more becomes available we will review this analysis and add to if relevant. There are a number of areas that require further research using 2011 Census data including:

  • Understanding how the qualification deficit occurs from above average levels of school attainment to a lower level of qualifications in the population as a whole.
  • Skills migration; analysis of skills levels of residents moving out and moving into the county since the 2001 Census.
  • Skills levels of those who commute to jobs outside the county.

About Qualifications

Qualifications are assigned the levels of 1 to 4 as follows:

No Qualifications
  • No academic or professional qualifications
Level 1
  • 1-4 O Levels/CSE/GCSEs (any grades)
  • Entry Level, Foundation Diploma
  • NVQ level 1
  • Foundation GNVQ
  • Basic/Essential Skills
Level 2
  • 5+ O Level (Passes)/CSEs (Grade 1)/GCSEs (Grades A*-C)
  • School Certificate
  • 1 A Level/ 2-3 AS Levels/VCEs
  • Intermediate/Higher Diploma
  • Welsh Baccalaureate Intermediate Diploma
  • NVQ level 2
  • Intermediate GNVQ
  • City and Guilds Craft
  • BTEC First/General Diploma
  • RSA Diploma
Level 3
  • 2+ A Levels/VCEs
  • 4+ AS Levels
  • Higher School Certificate
  • Progression/Advanced Diploma
  • Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma
  • NVQ Level 3
  • Advanced GNVQ
  • City and Guilds Advanced Craft
  • ONC
  • OND
  • BTEC National
  • RSA Advanced Diploma
Level 4 and above
  • Degree (for example BA, BSc)
  • Higher Degree (for example MA, PhD, PGCE)
  • NVQ Level 4-5
  • HNC
  • HND
  • RSA Higher Diploma
  • BTEC Higher level
  • Foundation degree (NI)
  • Professional qualifications (for example teaching, nursing, accountancy)
  • Can be any level but are usually level 2, 3, or 4
Other qualilfications
  • Vocational/Work-related Qualifications
  • Foreign Qualifications (Not stated/ level unknown)

Further information on the 2011 Census

You can find more information about the 2011 Census and what it means for Lincolnshire from our dedicated 2011 Census Pages. Alternatively, visit the Office for National Statistics Census 2011 page.


Office for National Statistics.

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