This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Find out more here


To discuss how you and your organisation can get more involved with The Work Foundation, please contact us.

Call 020 7976 3575 or email


Ian Brinkley

New report dispels myth that the UK is overinvesting in high level skills

Authors: Ian Brinkley Ian Brinkley

08 October 2013

For immediate release: 08 October 2013

Commenting on the first OECD Survey of Adult Skills, Ian Brinkley, director at The Work Foundation, said:

“This is a ground-breaking study that policymakers throughout the UK must take very seriously. We now have a comprehensive measure of the levels of literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills, instead of having to use educational achievements as a proxy.

“It shows that investment in skills pays, both economically and socially, and for individuals and economies; it shows we are good at producing and extracting value from high levels skills; and that concerns that we were overinvesting in high level skills are misplaced. This success must be reinforced.

“But we face a major generational challenge. We are the only OECD economy where the average skill levels of the younger generations in work are no better than the older generations they will eventually replace. According to the OECD, we face a relative decline in the economy’s skills base. We must develop more effective policies to increase investment and promote the benefits of life-long learning, especially for lower skill groups and for younger workers, if we hope to compete internationally as a knowledge based economy.”


Notes to editors

1. Ian Brinkley and Charles Levy are available for interviews, briefings and written comment.
2. The OECD study focuses on skills, not qualifications.

3. The UK covers England and Northern Ireland only.

4. The report is available from the OECD -

5. The Work Foundation aims to be the leading independent, international authority on work and its future, influencing policy and practice for the benefit of society. The Work Foundation is part of Lancaster University – an alliance that enables both organisations to further enhance their impact.

Media enquiries:

Angelo Evangelou 020 7976 3597

Anna Kharbanda 020 7976 3646

For urgent out-of-hours enquiries: 0782 552 7036