Report reveals 6% of Fife adults have no qualifications

A significant proportion of Fife adults do not have any qualifications, a new report has revealed.

By Craig Smith, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 28th January 2022, 12:17 pm

The Fife Local Economic Profiles report for 2020/21 suggests that almost 6% of 16 to 64-year-olds across the region had no qualifications to their name whatsoever - with that figure rising to a staggering 14.2% in the Cowdenbeath area alone.

The Kirkcaldy and South West Fife areas recorded relatively high rates of 7.5% and 7.4% respectively, while North East Fife remains the best performing area with just 2.3% of its working age population possessing no qualifications.

All of Fife Council’s area committees are being given the chance to consider the statistics included in the wide-ranging report, but its contents have already sparked concern among some councillors.

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“While I obviously welcome the figure for North East Fife, across Fife it’s not really a good look,” said East Neuk and Landward Councillor Bill Porteous.

“Obviously for me and my colleagues across Fife these will be very disappointing figures.”

The statistics confirmed that the qualifications of Fife’s working age population remained similar between 2017 and 2019, but did show significant improvement between 2019 and 2020 when the proportion of those aged 16-64 with a NVQA4 or higher qualification increased from 43.3% to over 50%.

In Cowdenbeath area the number of unqualified people rose to 14%

The proportion of people with no qualifications has actually fallen from 7.3% to 5.9% in the last couple of years, but council officials have acknowledged there are challenges in certain areas.

Cowdenbeath, for example, has a significantly higher proportion of its working age population with no qualifications (14.2%) than Scotland and Fife as a whole (8% and 5.9% respectively), and the highest proportion of all Fife’s committee areas.

The area also has the lowest proportion of people who are qualified to NVQ4 or above, with just a fifth of the working age population falling into that category.

Gordon Mole, head of business and employability at Fife Council, said there was a “mixture of activity” going on to improve the picture across the Kingdom targeting not only school leavers but also more adult learners.

“When you look at the proportion of people with no qualifications I think that also speaks to a generational aspect,” he noted.

“So while young people on the whole are leaving formal education with relatively good qualifications, that’s not the case across the piece and there are some challenges across Fife which are being addressed.

“I don’t think this is about young people leaving school with no qualifications: it’s about generations above them, their parents and their grandparents, who may never have achieved qualifications, and finding the best route to support them as part of a lifelong learning journey.”

Vocational training, apprenticeships and providing in-work support were all highlighted by Mr Mole as part of the council’s efforts, as well as some nationally-recognised schemes.

And he added: “We’ll also be working with our colleagues in education - the colleges and universities - on how we can do more flexible courses so people can access ‘roll on roll off’ provision so people are not tied to academic years which will also support adult returners to the workforce.”

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