Adult skills - who gets invested in and how has this changed over time?

Project: Projects from Previous Employment

Project Details


With Peter Dickinson. Funded by Social Mobility Commission. Project Start Date: 29/09/2017 - Project End Date: 03/07/2018

Layman's description

This study was a desk-based analysis of who invests in adult skills and how this has changed over time. As social mobility is high on the political agenda in the UK, the aim of this research was to add to the knowledge about who invests in adult skills by socioeconomic background and other characteristics, and about the relationship between investment in adult skills and labour market outcomes, for adults who have already entered the labour market.
A better understanding of investment in adult skills in the UK can help improve policy recommendations regarding social mobility outcomes, in light of the government agenda of this Parliament and longer-term changes to jobs and skills, as well as contribute to recommendations about measuring and monitoring data going forward.

Key findings

The Adult Skills Gap report found evidence of ‘vicious’ and ‘virtuous’ circles of training, whereby those with low or no qualifications are much less likely to access education and training after leaving school compared to those with high qualifications. The report also highlighted that UK investment in training was low by international standards. This left big questions about how the government, employers, and society more broadly can ensure better prospects for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.


The report was launched on the 29th of January 2019 with an accompanying press release. Its findings were covered by the Financial Times and the Independent, and were discussed on The Today Programme.
Effective start/end date29/09/173/07/18

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities


  • adult skills
  • training


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