Academic year 2020/21

Further education outcomes

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Introduction

The Further Education Outcomes publication presents statistics on the employment, earnings and learning outcomes of further education learners.

This publication covers learners who achieved apprenticeships, 19+ education and training learners, and learners who completed a traineeship in 2020/21, and tracks their outcomes in the following academic year (2021/22). Revised data for previous years is also provided.


Headline facts and figures - 2020/21

Overall, sustained activity has risen for learners achieving in England in 2020/21 compared to the previous year, driven by an increase in sustained employment rate. 

Of the 785,520 learners who achieved a government funded further education learning aim (including apprenticeships) in the 2020/21 academic year, in the following year:

  • 80% of learners had a sustained destination in employment, learning, or both, representing a 4 ppt increase from 2019/20. 
  • 70% of learners had a sustained employment destination, representing a 5 ppt increase from 2019/20. 
  • 24% of learners had a sustained learning destination, a rate that remains unchanged from 2019/20. 

The increase in the sustained employment rate likely reflects the fact that learners achieving in 2020/21 are the first cohort since those achieving in 2017/18 where the employment destination reference period has not overlapped with any COVID-19 restrictions within England. This has also driven the rise in the overall sustained positive destination rate.

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About these statistics

This publication was formerly known as ‘Further education outcome-based success measures’ (OBSM). Although the name has been amended for clarity, the content of the publication remains unchanged.

What are further education outcomes and what do they cover?

Further education outcomes (FEO) shows the percentage of further education learners going to or remaining in an education and/or employment destination in the academic year after achieving their learning aim. The most recent data reports on learners who achieved their aim in the 2020/21 academic year, and identifies their education and/or employment destinations the following year (2021/22). 

FEO also includes estimates on the earnings outcomes of learners who achieved a Full Level 2, Full Level 3 or Level 4+ qualification and have an earnings record, a record of sustained employment and no record of further study at a Higher Education institution within the earning year. 

This publication reports outcomes by various learner demographics and type and level of learning. Where a learner achieves more than one aim within an academic year, the outcomes for the learner are reported against the highest and latest aim within that year. For example, if a learner achieves an aim at Level 2, and a separate Full Level 3 aim in the same academic year, their destinations will be reported against the Full Level 3 aim. Full Level 2 and Full Level 3 are counted as higher than other Level 2 and Level 3 aims respectively, and apprenticeship aims are prioritised over education and training aims.

What data is used?

The Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataset is used, which looks at how learners move through education and into the labour market by bringing together:

  • schools, further and higher education information from the Department for Education (DfE)
  • employment information from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • benefit histories from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

All learner counts reported here relate to those learners for whom a match was found in the LEO data, therefore the counts will not match headline achievements in the FE & Skills National Statistics release.

What further data is available?

In addition to the headline measures presented in this publication, further data is available on detailed destination, earnings and progression measures broken down by geographic areas, provider, learner demographics, type/level of learning completed and qualification title.  

A number of detailed breakdowns using this data have been signposted throughout the publication, and can also be accessed using the table builder tool which allows users to build custom tables. Alternatively, the underlying data files themselves can be downloaded from the ‘Explore data and files' section above.

Provider level figures are not currently available through the table builder tool, but can be downloaded from the ‘Explore data and files’ section above.

The outcomes in this release are presented as raw figures. They do not seek to control for differences in learner characteristics that may influence outcomes over time or across different learner populations.

Rounding and suppression

Full details on rounding and suppression are available in the accompanying methodology document. 

Any percentage point (ppt) changes reported that appear to mismatch the percentages provided in the charts and tables are due to rounding conventions. The use of rounding and suppression may also mean that some charts do not appear to add up to 100%.

Overall results

Destinations of all learners

What is a sustained positive destination?

To be counted in a sustained positive destination, learners have to be recorded as having participated in education and/or employment for a 6-month period (October 2021 – March 2022) in the year following study. This means attending for all of the first two terms of the academic year at one or more education provider, spending the 6 months in employment or having returned a self-assessment record for the destination year, or a combination of employment and learning (see methodology document for further information).

A sustained apprenticeship is recorded when 6 months of continuous participation is recorded at any point in the destination year (between August 2021 and July 2022).

How are multiple destinations recorded?

Destinations are not mutually exclusive and learners can be recorded as being both in sustained employment and in sustained learning. For example, the overall sustained employment rate is made up of learners with a sustained employment destination only, as well as learners with a sustained employment and learning destination. Further information is available in the accompanying methodology document.

In the academic year 2020/21, 785,520 learners achieved a government funded further education learning aim or completed a traineeship. Of these learners:

  • 80% of learners had a sustained destination in employment, learning, or both. 
  • A further 11% had a positive destination, but it was not sustained. 
  • 4% of these learners had no positive destination and were in receipt of benefits.
  • 5% of learners had no identifiable destination in the data.

The percentage of learners with a sustained positive destination rate rose dropped from 78% in 2017/18 to 76% in 2019/20 before rising to 80% in 2020/21.

Sustained employment has increased and remains the most common destination.

  • Sustained employment has risen from 65% in 2019/20 to 70% in 2020/21.
  • 56% of learners who achieved in 2020/21 were in sustained employment only in 2021/22, whilst 14% had a sustained learning and employment destination.

The increase in sustained employment drove the rise in the sustained positive destination rate for 2020/21. This increase in the sustained employment rate likely reflects the fact that learners achieving in 2020/21 are the first cohort since those achieving in 2017/18 where the employment destination reference period has not overlapped with COVID-19 restrictions within England.

The second most common destination was going into further learning.

  • 24% of learners in 2020/21 went on to a sustained learning destination. This remains unchanged from 2019/20.
  • For 10% of learners this was their only sustained destination. 

Apprentices achieving in 2020/21 were most likely to go on to a sustained positive destination in 2021/22. 

  • 93% of learners who achieved an apprenticeship went into a sustained positive destination. 
  • 78% of learners who achieved an education and training course went into a sustained positive destination.
  • 70% of learners who completed a traineeship went into a sustained positive destination.

For more detailed breakdowns by provision, please see the Adult Education and Training, Apprenticeships or Traineeships accordions below.

Learning destination rates remain relatively stable over time, with slight increases in the overall sustained learning and sustained higher education rates this year.

For learners who achieved in 2020/21:

  • The sustained learning destination rate was 24%
  • 17% of learners went on to sustained further education, a decrease of 1 ppt since 2019/20.
  • 6% of learners went on to sustained higher education, an increase of 1 ppt since 2019/20.
  • 4% of learners went on to a sustained apprenticeship.

Destinations by region 

Sustained positive destinations varied significantly between regions in England.

For learners who achieved in academic year 2020/21, sustained positive destination and employment rates followed a similar pattern to previous years: 

  • The South West had the highest sustained employment rate of 77%, and both the South West and South East had the highest sustained positive destination rate of 84%.
  • London had the lowest sustained positive destination rate of 77% and lowest sustained employment rate of 64%.

Conversely, London had the highest sustained learning rate of 28%, with the North East having the lowest sustained learning rate of 19%. 

Broadly, sustained positive destination rates were higher in southern and eastern regions of England, and lower in northern and western regions.

Adult education and training

Destinations of education and training learners

What is education and training?

Education and training is mainly classroom-based adult further education that is not classed as an apprenticeship or community learning. It can also include distance learning or e-learning.

Contrary to the Education & Training statistics in the ‘FE and Skills’ National Statistics, it excludes traineeships and offender learning.

Of the 785,520 learners in 2020/21, 634,900 achieved an education and training course as their highest learning aim:

  • 78% went into a sustained positive destination in 2021/22, a 6 ppt rise from the previous year. 
  • 65% went into sustained employment, the highest rate in the last 5 years.
  • 26% went into a sustained learning destination, remaining relative stable compared to previous years. 
  • 4% of learners were in receipt of benefits only, the lowest rate in the last 5 years. 

The increase in the sustained employment rate likely reflects the fact that learners achieving in 2020/21 are the first cohort since those achieving in 2017/18 where the employment destination reference period has not overlapped with COVID-19 restrictions within England. This has also driven the rise in the overall sustained positive destination rate.

Destinations by level of learning achieved

What is level of learning?

Most learning aims have a difficulty level. The higher the level, the more difficult the learning aim is. Further information can be found on this list of qualification levels.

How is the level of learning classified for learners with multiple aims?

This publication reports outcomes by various learner demographics and type and level of learning. Where a learner achieves more than one aim within an academic year, the outcomes for the learner are reported against the highest and latest aim within that year. For example, if a learner achieves an aim at Level 2, and a separate Full Level 3 aim in the same academic year, their destinations will be reported against the Full Level 3 aim. Full Level 2 and Full Level 3 are counted as higher than other Level 2 and Level 3 aims respectively, and apprenticeship aims are prioritised over education and training aims.

Education and training learners who studied at higher levels tended to have higher sustained positive destination rates.

The overall sustained positive destination rate of learners who had achieved: 

  • Full Level 2 was 82%
  • Full Level 3 was 86%
  • Level 4 was 84%
  • Level 5 was 90% 
  • Level 6 was 93%

Details on learning destinations by level of learning achieved can be found in the following tables:

Learning destinations for education and training learners achieving a Full level 3 aim in 2020/21
Learning destinations for education and training learners achieving a Full Level 2 aim in 2020/21
Learning destinations for education and training learners achieving other Level 2 aims in 2020/21
Learning destinations for education and training learners achieving a Level 1 aim in 2020/21

Access to Higher Education Courses

Access to Higher Education courses are qualifications which prepare people without traditional qualifications for study at university

18,410 learners achieved an ‘Access to Higher Education’ course in 2020/21: 

  • 67% of learners went on to a sustained higher education course in 2021/22, a decrease of 4 ppts from the previous year. 
  • The ‘Construction, Planning and the Built Environment’ sector subject area had the highest rate of sustained higher education at 83%.
  • ‘Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Care’ had the lowest rate of sustained higher education at 39%, the only sector subject area where fewer than half of the learners did not progress to higher education. This likely reflects the fact that there are comparatively fewer higher education courses in this sector subject area.

Destinations by region

Sustained positive destination rates varied across regions in England for Education and Training learners. 

  • The South West had the highest sustained employment rate of 73%, and both the South West and South East had the highest sustained positive destination rate of 81%.
  • The North West had the lowest sustained positive destination rate of 75% and the lowest sustained employment rate of 60%. 

Sustained learning rates followed a slightly different pattern to employment and overall positive destination rates. 

  • London had the highest sustained learning rate of 30%
  • The North East had the lowest sustained learning rate of 18%. 

Apprenticeships

Destinations of apprenticeship learners

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are paid jobs that incorporate on-the-job and off-the-job training leading to nationally recognised qualifications. As an employee, apprentices earn as they learn and gain practical skills in the workplace.

The proportion of apprenticeship learners in 2020/21 moving into sustained positive destinations remains consistent with previous years.

Of the 138,750 learners achieving an apprenticeship as their highest aim in 2020/21: 

  • 93% had a sustained positive destination, remaining consistent with previous years.
  • 92% had a sustained employment rate, remaining consistent with previous years.
  • 15% had a sustained learning rate, a decrease of 2 ppt from 2019/20.

Sustained positive destination rates remain higher for apprenticeships than any other type of provision. This is to be expected as many apprentices remain with the employer following their apprenticeship, which results in a high rate of sustained employment.

Higher level apprenticeships tend to have higher sustained employment rates but lower sustained learning rates.

  • There was a 4 ppt difference between the sustained employment rate of Level 4, Level 6 and Level 7+ apprenticeship learners, who had the highest rate of 95%, and intermediate (Level 2) apprenticeship learners, who had the lowest rate of 91%. 
  • There was an 18 ppt difference between the sustained learning rate of intermediate (Level 2) apprenticeship learners, who had the highest rate of 20%, and Level 7+ apprenticeship learners, who had the lowest rate of 2%. This likely reflects the fact that learners who are already highly qualified are unlikely to move into additional education compared to learners achieving a lower level qualification.

However, overall positive destination rates were fairly consistent across all apprenticeship levels.

Destinations by apprenticeship type

What are apprenticeship frameworks and apprenticeship standards?

As part of the Government’s apprenticeship reform programme, apprenticeship frameworks were phased out by the start of the 2020/21 academic year. Instead, new apprenticeship standards were introduced in 2014. Apprenticeship standards are focused on quality learning, with a single end point assessment, and are developed by employers and industry experts.

In the 2020/21 academic year there were 60,500 apprenticeship frameworks and 78,250 apprenticeship standards achieved. The number of apprenticeship standard achievements will continue to increase and apprenticeship frameworks will decrease as they are phased out.

Learners achieving apprenticeship standards were more likely to move into a sustained positive destination than learners achieving apprenticeship frameworks.

  • The overall positive destination rate for apprenticeship standards (94%) was higher than that of apprenticeship frameworks (93%). This trend was generally consistent across most apprenticeship levels.
  • Learners on apprenticeship standards were more likely to go into sustained employment compared to framework apprenticeships across most levels. 
  • Learners achieving framework apprenticeships were overall more likely to go into sustained learning only compared to standard apprenticeships. However, when looking at the level of apprenticeships, intermediate and Level 4 apprenticeships were the only levels where learners had a higher rate of sustained learning destinations for frameworks than standards.

Sustained learning showed a different pattern across regions to sustained employment and overall sustained positive destinations. 

Across regions in England:

  • The sustained positive destination rate was fairly uniform, with London having the lowest rate of 92%, followed by the North East and North West with 93%. All other regions of England has a sustained positive destination rate of 94%. 
  • London and the North East had the lowest sustained employment rate at 91%, followed by the North West and West Midlands with 92%. All other regions had a sustained employment rate of 93%.
  • London also  had the lowest sustained learning rate of 12%, while the North East had the highest rate at 18%. 

Traineeships

Destinations of traineeship learners

What are traineeships?

Traineeships are a work-based pathway programme to apprenticeships and other employment for young people aged 16 to 24 (or up to age 25 if they have an Education Health and Care Plan) with no higher than a Level 3 qualification.

Employment is the most common sustained destination for traineeship learners.

There were 11,870 learners who completed a traineeship as their highest aim in 2020/21. Of these learners:

  • 70% had a sustained positive destination in 2021/22.
  • 59% went into sustained employment.
  • 35% went into sustained learning.
  • 21% went into a positive destination which was not sustained.

The proportion of traineeship learners moving into a sustained positive destination has risen

The percentage of traineeship learners with a sustained positive destination increased by 10 ppts in 2020/21 (70%), up from 60% in 2019/20. This represents the highest sustained positive destination rate in the last 5 years.

The proportion of traineeship learners going into any positive destination (whether sustained or not) was 91% in 2020/21, a 9 ppt increase from 2019/20 (82%). 

The increase in the sustained employment rate likely reflects the fact that learners achieving in 2020/21 are the first cohort since those achieving in 2017/18 where the employment destination reference period has not overlapped with COVID-19 restrictions within England. This has also driven the rise in the overall sustained positive destination rate.

The percentage of 2020/21 traineeship learners going into sustained:

  • Employment (59%) has increased 14 ppts since 2019/20 and increased 7 ppts since 2016/17.
  • Further education (28%) has decreased 3 ppts since 2019/20 and decreased 1 ppt since 2016/17.
  • Apprenticeships (19%) has increased 2 ppts since 2019/20 and decreased 2 ppts since 2016/17.
  • Higher education (4%) has increased 2 ppts since 2019/20 and increased 3 ppts since 2016/17.

Explore traineeships data

You can create your own tables looking at traineeships data by using the table builder tool to explore the underlying data file 'Destinations by demographics and provision (NAT01)’.  

The following tables also offer a range of useful breakdowns:

File subject What is available in the file
Traineeships - 2016/17 to 2020/21

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Learner type: Traineeship learners only

Indicators:  All employment and education destination measures

Filters: None

Traineeships by demographics - 2019/20

Academic year: 2020/21

Learner type: Traineeship learners only

Indicators:  All employment and education destination measures

Filters: Sex, benefit status, ethnicity

Traineeships data

The number of traineeship learners completing their course is reported on, rather than the number achieved, as the definition of ‘achieving’ a traineeship is based on the learner’s outcome.

Note that some traineeships go on to complete further aims at a higher level in the same academic year, and a learner's outcomes are reported against the highest aim. Therefore, traineeship numbers presented here will be lower than those presented in the ‘Further education and skills’ publication

Percentages are calculated using unrounded figures, discrepancies in sum totals are due to rounding.

Community learning

What is community learning?

Community learning includes a range of community based and outreach learning opportunities, primarily managed and delivered by local authorities and general further education colleges, and designed to bring together adults (often of different ages and backgrounds).

There were 177,840 learners whose highest aim was in community learning in 2020/21. Community learners are a distinct group from the 785,520 learners reported on in other sections of this publication.

Of these learners, in the year following their learning aim:

  • 71% had a sustained positive destination.
  • 63% were in sustained employment.
  • 19% were in sustained learning.
  • 43% were in some form of learning whether sustained or otherwise.

Why do so many community learners have positive destinations that are not sustained?

There is a large increase in learning destination rates when including non-sustained learning. This is because community learners typically move into another community learning course or other qualifications that are structured in a similar way to community learning. That is to say that these courses tend to be short but intensive.

Explore data on community learning

You can create your own tables looking at community learners by using the table builder tool to explore the underlying data file Destinations of community learners by demographics (NAT02)’ 

The following tables also offer a range of useful breakdowns:

File subject What is available in the file
Community learners - 2016/17 to 2020/21

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators:  All employment and education destination measures

Filters: Provision type

Community learners by demographics - 2020/21

Academic year: 2020/21

Indicators: All employment and education destination measures

Filters: Sex, Ethnicity, age band

Earnings

Where does earnings data come from?

Earnings estimates are based on information recorded by HMRC through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and self-assessment  tax return systems for collecting income tax and national insurance. Learners are only included in the figures if they have an earnings record on the self-assessment data or P14 (HMRC data), a record of sustained employment in the Real Time Information submitted to HMRC , and no record of further study at a Higher Education institution. 

Limitations of earnings data

The PAYE records from HMRC do not include reliable information on the hours worked in employment so it is not possible to accurately distinguish between learners in full time and part time employment. 

See the quality and methodology information that accompanies this release for more detail.

When interpreting the results below, it should be remembered that some of the difference in earnings could be a result of factors other than the qualification achieved, such as: 

  • the number and proportion of achievers in part time employment,
  • the employment history of achievers,
  • pay conditions within the local labour market,
  • characteristics of individual learners.

The outcomes in this release are presented as raw figures. They do not seek to control for differences in learner characteristics that may influence outcomes over time or across different learner populations.

Changes to earnings data

For the first time, the earnings estimates in this publication are based on earnings from both self-employment as reported through self-assessment tax returns, as well  as data from paid employment as reported through the PAYE system. This means that earnings data presented in this publication is not directly comparable to previous publications. 

The median earnings is calculated by ranking all learners’ annualised earnings and taking the value at which half of learners fall above and half fall below. This is shown in the data label for each bar. 

The lower quartile earnings is calculated by ranking all learners’ annualised earnings and taking the value at which three quarters of learners fall above and one quarter fall below. 

The upper quartile earnings is calculated by ranking all learners’ annualised earnings and taking the value at which one quarter of learners fall above and three quarters fall below.

Earnings five years post training

Earnings steadily increase each year after achievement for almost all levels of learning.

Median annualised earnings one year after study for learners who achieved in academic year 2016/17 were:

  • £16,810 for intermediate apprenticeships - rising 34% to £22,450 five years after study.
  • £18,910 for advanced apprenticeships - rising 32% to £24,920 five years after study.
  • £23,850 for Level 4 higher apprenticeships - rising 42% to £33,800 five years after study.
  • £26,470 for Level 5 higher apprenticeships - rising 19% to £31,380 five years after study.
     
  • £10,950 for Full Level 2 education & training courses - rising 66% to £18,180 five years after study.
  • £11,250 for Full Level 3 education & training courses - rising 57% to £17,640 five years after study.
  • £16,990 for Level 4 education & training courses - rising 44% to £24,410 five years after study.
  • £20,470 for Level 5 education & training courses - decreasing 1% to £20,360 five years after study.

Aside from Level 5 education and training courses, earnings steadily increase each year after achievement for all other levels of learning in both apprenticeships and education and training. At all levels, apprenticeships had higher levels of earnings one year after study than equivalent level education and training courses. 

Earnings one year post training

Learners who achieved higher levels of learning tended to have higher median earnings one year after training.

For learners who achieved their course in academic year 2020/21, median annualised earnings in the first full tax year after training tended to correspond with the level of learning, with higher median earnings for those who had achieved higher level training:

  • £19,600 for intermediate apprenticeships 
  • £23,660 for advanced apprenticeships 
  • £29,310 for higher (Level 4) apprenticeships 
  • £33,710 for higher (Level 5) apprenticeships 
  • £35,860 for higher (Level 6) apprenticeships 
  • £43,600 for higher (Level 7+) apprenticeships

 

  • £16,420 for Full Level 2 education and training courses 
  • £15,950 for Full Level 3 education and training courses 
  • £18,500 for Level 4 education and training courses
  • £24,360 for Level 5 education and training courses 

Median annualised earnings vary considerably between sector subject areas for Full Level 3 education and training learners.

One year after study, median annualised earnings for learners who achieved a Full Level 3 education and training course in academic year 2020/21 were: 

  • Highest in ‘Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Care’ at £21,840.
  • Lowest in ‘Science and Mathematics’ at £7,810.  

Within some sector subject areas, earnings had a wide range between the upper and lower quartiles of earnings: 

  • This was widest in ‘Social Sciences’ for which the lower quartile was £7,940 and the upper quartile was £21,360.
  • Followed by ‘Leisure, Travel and Tourism' which ranged from £8,690 at the lower quartile to £21,750 at the upper quartile.

Large variations in median annualised earnings can also be seen for advanced apprenticeships across sector subject areas. 

One year after study, median annualised earnings for learners who achieved an advanced apprenticeship in academic year 2020/21: 

  • Were highest in Business Management (£33,900), followed by  Engineering (£32,690) and Public Services (£29,720).
  • Were lowest in Direct Learning Support (£14,670), followed by  Travel and Tourism (£16,680) and Service Enterprises (£16,780).

Explore earnings data

The following tables contain useful further breakdowns of earnings data: 

File subject What is available in the file
Earnings one year after learning by provision, level of learning and sector subject area tier 2 - 2020/21

Academic year of achievement:  2020/21

Years after learning: One

Indicators: All earnings measures

Filters: Provision type, level of learning, sector subject area tier 1, sector subject area tier 2

Earnings one to five years after learning by provision, level of learning and sector subject area tier 2 - 2016/17

Academic year of achievement:  2016/17

Years after learning: One to five

Indicators:  All earnings measures

Filters: Provision type, level of learning, sector subject area tier 1, sector subject area tier 2

Earnings one year after learning by apprenticeship type and level - 2020/21

Academic year of achievement:  2020/21

Years after learning: One

Indicators: All earnings measures

Filters: Apprenticeship type, level of learning

Progression

Progression into higher level of study

'Sustained progression from achieved aim' details the proportion of learners with a sustained further learning aim, who went on to sustained study at a higher level than they just achieved.

Two thirds of learners who moved on to a sustained learning aim progressed into a higher level of study.

  • 67% of learners with a sustained learning destination progressed to a higher level of learning in the 2021/22 academic year than the level they had achieved in 2020/21, a 1 ppt increase from the previous year.

Learners who achieved an apprenticeship were more likely to progress to a higher level of learning than learners studying an education and training course.

  • The percentage of apprenticeship learners progressing onto a higher level of sustained learning in 2021/22 than they had achieved in 2020/21 (89%) was 23 ppts higher than for education and training learners (66%).
  • The rate of progression for apprenticeship learners has increased over time, likely due to the increase in the number of learners undertaking higher (Level 4+) apprenticeships. Progression rates for education and training have fluctuated and are now at the highest rate in the last 5 years.

Rates of progression to a higher level of learning varied considerably by level of learning achieved.

  • There was considerable variation in progression from an education and training course to a higher level of learning by level, ranging from 30% for Entry Level ESOL courses, to 96% for Entry Level digital courses.
  • Progression also varied for apprenticeships depending on level of aim. Rates ranged from 35% for Higher (Level 7+) apprenticeships to 94% for Higher (Level 4) apprenticeships.

Progression of younger learners born in or since 1988

The Department has used the National Pupil Database (NPD) in conjunction with the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) and Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) data to detail students’ attainment throughout their educational history. The resulting dataset includes attainment records from schools, and further and higher education institutions allowing for robust comparisons over time.

This has enabled experimental statistics on progression to be calculated for those learners whose full educational history has been recorded. This cohort is limited to learners born in 1988 or later.

Please note that previous publications also limited this cohort of learners to learners aged 24 or under. As this is the first year where the cohort has been expanded to all learners born in or since 1988, the figures presented here are not directly comparable with previous publications.

Of the 785,520 learners achieving their further education aim in 2020/21, 297,490 (38%) were born in 1988 or later, and had a full educational history recorded by the department. 

The rest of the analysis in this section relates specifically to this group of younger learners.

Younger learners studying at this level of learning for the first time

Data on studying a particular level of learning for the first time is presented to provide further insight into learners’ pathways through further education and training. Care should be taken when interpreting the data, particularly when making comparisons between different subgroups or seeking to draw wider conclusions. In particular, there may be valid reasons for a learner to take a qualification at a level of learning they have previously achieved, including: 

  • Where a learner is moving from an academic to a technical pathway, and needs to develop the core technical skills and knowledge that will enable them to progress to higher levels.
  • Where the qualifications are complementary, such as a qualification in English or maths that is required to access a technical or vocational qualification at the same level.
  • Where a learner is retraining in order to develop a new career pathway, or to update their skills after a significant career break in order to re-enter employment.
  • 21% of younger learners were studying at their level of learning for the first time in 2020/21, consistent with the 2019/20 rate.
  • Apprenticeship learners were more likely to be studying at their level of learning for the first time (38%) than education and training learners (13%).
  • Since 2016/17, the rate of younger learners who were studying at their level of learning for the first time has risen for apprenticeship learners, and fallen slightly for education and training learners. 

Broadly speaking, younger education and training learners at higher levels of learning were more likely to be achieving their level of learning for the first time.

  • There was wide variation in the rate of younger education and training learners studying at their level for the first time in 2020/21, ranging from 1% for Level 1 to 91% for Level 6.

Younger apprenticeship learners also showed a general trend of more learners at higher levels achieving for the first time.

  • 24% of those achieving Intermediate aims in 2020/21 were achieving at that level for the first time, while the same was true for 87% of those achieving Higher (Level 7+) apprenticeships.
  • While, in general, more apprenticeship learners at higher levels were achieving for the first time, the rate for learners on Level 5 apprenticeships was actually slightly lower than for Level 4 apprenticeships.

Younger learners progressing to highest level of sustained learning to date

'Sustained progression for learner overall’ gives the percentage of learners that progressed on to a sustained level of learning higher than they have attained at any point in their educational history.

Of the 785,520 learners in 2020/21, 75,230 (10%)  were younger learners with a full educational history recorded by the department, and went into a sustained learning destination. The analysis in this section relates specifically to this group of learners.

The proportion of younger learners progressing to their highest ever level of sustained learning is at the highest rate since monitoring began.

  • 60% of these younger learners in 2020/21 progressed into their highest level of learning to date in 2021/22. This is an increase of 1 ppt from the rate in 2016/17.

Younger learners who achieved an apprenticeship were more likely to progress to their highest level of sustained learning to date than learners studying an education and training course.

  • The percentage of apprenticeship learners progressing into their highest level of sustained learning in 2021/22 (74%) was 19 ppts higher than for education and training learners (55%).

Learner characteristics

Benefit learners

What do we mean by benefit learners?

Benefit learners are defined as those in the following benefit groups:

  • Income Support
  • Job Seekers Allowance
  • Universal Credit - Searching for work
  • Universal Credit - Working with requirements
  • Universal Credit - Working with no requirements
  • Universal Credit - Preparing for work
  • Universal Credit - Planning for work
  • Employment and Support Allowance - Work Related Activity Group

Benefit learners were less likely to move into a sustained positive destination than learners who were not on benefits.

Just over a third (34%) of learners were on benefits at the start of their learning. Of these 265,820 benefit learners:

  • 70% went into a sustained positive destination, 15 ppts lower than learners who were not on benefits (85%).
  • 58% went into sustained employment, 18 ppts lower than learners not on benefits (76%).
  • 22% went into sustained learning, 3 ppts lower than learners not on benefits (25%).

Learners who were on benefits at the beginning of their learning aim in 2020/21 were more likely to have a destination that was not sustained (18%) compared to learners who were not on benefits (8%). They were also more likely to be on benefits only with no positive destination (9%) compared to learners who were not on benefits at the start of their learning aim (1%).

Differences in destination rates may be partially explained by the levels of learning undertaken by benefit learners.

  • Learners on benefits tended to achieve lower-level learning aims than learners not on benefits. 49% of learners on benefits took Entry Level or Level 1 learning aims, compared to 24% of learners who were not on benefits.
  • In addition, only 9% of learners on benefits undertook learning at Level 3 or above, compared to 35% of learners who were not on benefits.

Benefit learners who achieved apprenticeships were most likely to move into a sustained positive destination, compared to other provision types.

The outcomes of benefit learners varied greatly depending on the type of provision completed:

  • Those who completed apprenticeships had the highest sustained positive destination rate of 90%.
  • Those who completed education and training courses had a sustained positive destination rate of 70%.
  • Those who completed traineeships had a sustained positive destination rate of 65%.

Learner ethnicity

Trends varied considerably by learner ethnicity, but tended to be different for sustained positive destination overall and sustained employment, compared to sustained learning.

  • Learners from ‘other ethnic groups’ had the lowest sustained positive destination rate of 72%, 10 ppts lower than white learners who had the highest sustained positive destination rate at 82%
  • Learners from ‘other ethnic groups’ were least likely to move into sustained employment with the lowest sustained employment rate of 44%, 31 ppts lower than white learners who had the highest sustained positive destination rate at 75%.
  • White learners were least likely to move into sustained learning with a sustained learning rate of 20%, 21 ppts lower than learners from ‘other ethnic groups’ who had the highest sustained learning rate of 41%.

Differences in destination rates may be partially explained by the levels of learning undertaken by different ethnic groups.

There is a skew towards lower-level qualifications for learners from ‘other ethnic groups’, where 69% of learners undertook an Entry or Level 1 aim compared to 24% of white learners.

Explore learner characteristics data

You can create your own tables looking at outcomes by various learner characteristics by using the table builder tool to explore the underlying data file Destinations by demographics and provision (NAT01)’ .

The following tables also offer a range of useful breakdowns:

File subject What is available in the file
Destinations and earnings by ethnicity - 2016/17 to 2020/21

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators: All employment and learning destinations, earnings measures

Filters: Ethnicity

Destinations and earnings by benefit learner status - 2016/17 to 2020/21

Academic year:  2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators: All employment and learning destinations, earnings measures

Filters: Benefit learner status

Destinations and earnings by learning difficulty status  - 2016/17 to 2020/21

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators: All employment and learning destinations, earnings measures

Filters: Learning difficulty status

Destinations and earnings by  sex - 2016/17 to 2020/21

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators: All employment and learning destinations, earnings measures

Filters: Sex

Geographical breakdowns

Explore geographical tables

The following tables offer a range of useful breakdowns for geographical data:

What is ‘English devolved area’?

‘English devolved area’ is used to refer to combined authorities, mayoral combined authorities, and the Greater London Authority

File subject What is available in the file
Destinations and earnings by local authority district - 2020/21

Geography: Local Authority District

Academic year: 2020/21

Indicators: Destination measures, earnings measures

Destinations and earnings by local education authority - 2020/21

Geography: Local Education Authority

Academic year: 2020/21

Indicators: Destination measures, earnings measures

Destinations and earnings by English devolved area - 2016/17 to 2020/21

Geography: English Devolved Area

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators:  Destination measures, earnings measures

Destinations and earnings by local enterprise partnership - 2016/17 to 2020/21

Geography: Local Enterprise Partnership

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators:  Destination measures, earnings measures

Create your own geographical tables

You can create your own tables looking at different geographical breakdowns by using the table builder tool to explore the following data files.

File subject What is available in the file
Destinations by local authority district, provision, level of learning and demographics (LAD01)

Geography: National, Regional, Local Authority District

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators: Destination measures, earnings measures

Filters: Age band, sex, learning difficulty status, provision type, level of learning

Destinations by local authority district provision, level of learning and sector subject area (LAD02)

Geography: National, Regional, Local Authority District

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators: Destination measures, earnings measures

Filters: Provision type, level of learning, sector subject area tier 1, sector subject area tier 2

Destinations by local education authority, provision, level of learning and demographics (LEA01)

Geography: National, Regional, Local Education Authority

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators: Destination measures, earnings measures

Filters: Age band, sex, learning difficulty status, provision type, level of learning

Destinations by local education authority, provision, level of learning and sector subject area (LEA02)

Geography: National, Regional, Local Education Authority

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators: Destination measures, earnings measures

Filters: Provision type, level of learning, sector subject area tier 1, sector subject area tier 2

Destinations by English devolved area, provision, level of learning and demographics (EDA01)

Geography: National, Regional, English Devolved Area

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators: Destination measures, earnings measures

Filters: Age band, sex, learning difficulty status, provision type, level of learning

Destinations by English devolved area, provision, level of learning and sector subject area (EDA02)

Geography: National, Regional, English Devolved Area

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Indicators: Destination measures, earnings measures

Filters: Provision type, level of learning, sector subject area tier 1, sector subject area tier 2

Destinations by local enterprise partnership, provision, level of learning and sector subject area (LEP01)

Geography: National, Regional, Local Enterprise Partnership

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21 

Indicators: Destination measures, earnings measures

Filters: Provision type, level of learning, sector subject area tier 1, sector subject area tier 2

Provider and qualification breakdowns

Downloadable provider data

Provider level figures are not currently available through the table builder tool, but can be downloaded from the ‘Explore data and files’ section above. The table below provides a summary of information available in each file.

File subject What is available in the file
Destinations by provider, provider type and benefit status (PRV01)

Data Level: National, regional, provider

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Learner type: All learners

Indicators: Destination measures

Filters: Provider type, provision type, benefit learner status

Destinations by provider, provision, level of learning and demographics (PRV02)

Data Level: National, regional, provider

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Learner type: All learners

Indicators: Destination measures

Filters: Provider type, provision type, level of learning, age band, sex, benefit learner status

Destinations of community learners by provider, provision and benefit status (PRV03)

Data Level: National, regional, provider

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Learner type: Community learners only

Indicators: Destination measures

Filters: Provider type, provision type, benefit learner status

Destinations by provider, provision, level of learning and sector subject area (PRV04)

Data Level: National, regional, provider

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Learner type: All learners

Indicators: Destination measures

Filters: Provider type, provision type, level of learning, sector subject area tier 1, sector subject area tier 2

Progression of young learners by provider (PRV05)

Data Level: National, regional, provider

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Learner type: Younger learners only (born in or since 1988)

Indicators: Destination measures

Filters: Provider type, provision type, level of learning, age band, sex, learning difficulty status, benefit learner status

Downloadable qualification data 

File subjectWhat is available in the file
Destinations by qualification title, provision and sector subject area (QUA01)

Data Level: National, qualification

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Learner type: All learners

Indicators: Destination measures, earnings measures

Filters: Age band, provision type, level of learning, sector subject area tier 1, sector subject area tier 2, access to HE status, qualification title

Progression of younger learners by qualification title (QUA02)

Data Level: National, qualification

Academic year: 2016/17 to 2020/21

Learner type: Younger learners only (born in or since 1988)

Indicators: Destination measures, progression measures

Filters: Age band, free school meals status, provision type, level of learning, sector subject area tier 1, sector subject area tier 2, qualification title

Industry sections of employment

What is an industry section?

The UK Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) of economic activities is used to classify businesses by the type of activity they do. Using the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) of economic activities, there are 21 broad industry sections, which are used within this publication. For more information see the Standard industrial classification of economic activities or the UK Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Hierarchy.

Of the 548,440 learners who had a sustained employment destination in 2021/22: 

  • 19% had employment in the ‘Human health and social work activities’ industry section, the most common industry section destination.
  • 13% had employment in the ‘Education’ industry section.
  • 11% had employment in the ‘Administrative and support service activities’ industry section.
  • 10% had employment in the ‘Wholesale and retail trade - repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles’ industry section.
PublicationDescription
Key Stage 4 destination measuresData on students going into education, employment and training destinations after completing Key Stage 4 study.
16 to 18 destination measuresData on students going into education, employment and training destinations after completing 16-18 study.
Graduate outcomesEmployment and earnings outcomes of higher education graduates by subject studied and graduate characteristic
Graduate outcomes: provider level dataEmployment and earnings outcomes of higher education first degree graduates by provider, subject studied and graduate characteristics
Graduate outcomes: postgraduate outcomesEmployment and earnings outcomes for those who graduated with a level 7 (masters) or level 8 (doctoral) postgraduate degree by subject studied, current region and domicile.  
Post-16 pathways at level 3 and belowExperimental statistics on young people's transitions from education to work in England
Measuring the net present value of Further Education in England 2018 to 2019Estimates of the economic return from further education qualifications started in academic year 2018 to 2019.
Further Education Skills IndexIndex showing how the aggregate value of the skills supplied by the Further Education system each year has changed over time
Post-16 education: highest level of achievement by age 25Research analysing school leavers’ progress through post-16 education and into the labour market.
The earnings differentials associated with vocational education and trainingResearch analysing the economic benefits to an individual from achieving further education qualifications.
Further education qualifications in maths and English: returns and benefitsResearch analysing the economic benefits associated with further education qualifications in maths and English.
Adult further education: measuring success - detailed proposalsConsultation and response on detailed proposals for using and publishing outcome-based success measures for adult further education.
Further education: comparing labour market economic benefits from qualifications gainedEstimates the economic benefits to an individual from achieving further education qualifications.
Further education: impact of skills and training on the unemployedThis research estimates the economic benefits to unemployed individuals from achieving further education qualifications.
Longitudinal Education Outcomes study: how we use and share dataHow the government shares and uses personal data as part of the 'Longitudinal Education Outcomes study'.
Occupational pathways of technical qualificationsExperimental analysis into the occupations of young people with technical qualifications in England.
Labour market outcomes disaggregated by subject area using the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataResearch showing the labour market benefits associated with vocational qualifications, disaggregated by qualification level, type and sector subject area.
The value of progression in further educationResearch showing the labour market benefits associated with progression in further education, disaggregated by qualification level, type and sector subject area.

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Further education outcomes statistics

Email: FE.OUTCOMESDATA@education.gov.uk
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