Special report: County’s qualifications shame

Parts of Northamptonshire have among the highest rates of people without any qualifications in the country, new analysis of 2011 census data has shown.
Parts of Northamptonshire have among the highest rates of people without any qualifications in the country, new analysis of 2011 census data has shown.

Parts of Northamptonshire have among the highest rates of people without any qualifications in the country, new analysis of 2011 census data has shown.

Figures collected in the census and issued last month showed one in six people aged 16 to 64 in our area did not have any qualifications, higher than the England and Wales average of 15 per cent.

Nationwide, 85 per cent of the population aged between 16 and 64 had at least one qualification, below the rates of Kettering and East Northants but ahead of those of Wellingborough and Corby.

In the borough of Corby, more than one in five – or 8,110 people – had no qualification, placing it among the highest rates of any local authority in England and Wales.

The borough also has the second lowest proportion of people in the country with a qualification at degree level or above.

The remaining three local authorities in our area are also in the bottom half on that measure.

There are almost 33,000 people in Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and East Northants who had no qualification at the time of the census.

But our region fares better in terms of the number of people who have apprenticeships.

Andrea Finkel-Gates, director of operations for 16 to 19-year-olds and higher education at Tresham College, which has branches in Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough, moved to the county from the North East last year.

She said she has already seen that Northamptonshire is fertile ground for employment and enterprise compared to many other areas of the country with which she is familiar.

But she also said gaining qualifications was key to unlocking individuals’ potential.

“In this area, from my point of view, there is a lot of opportunity for employment compared to much of the country,” she said.

“But unless you have those qualifications and the necessary skills it’s going to prevent you capitalising on those opportunities.

“Qualifications are vital to gaining employment and gaining promotion.

“It’s really important for the local community and employers to have highly qualified people.

“As a sector we are working very closely with employers to find out what they need. We are working to make sure our curriculum matches what employers and groups such as Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership want.”

How the north of the county ranks

Those with any qualifications

East Northants: 86.3 per cent (169th of 348 local authorities in England and Wales)

Kettering: 85.5 per cent (191st)

Wellingborough: 82.8 per cent (264th)

Corby: 79.9 per cent (308th)

Level 4 qualification and above

East Northants: 26.6 per cent (204th)

Kettering: 25.5 per cent (226th)

Wellingborough: 22.5 per cent (280th)

Corby: 16.1 per cent (347th)

apprenticeship highest

East Northants: 4.0 per cent (85th)

Kettering: 3.9 per cent (91st)

Corby: 3.7 per cent (121st)

Wellingborough: 3.6 per cent (153rd)

Council pleased with improved Ofsted performances

The county council says it is pleased with a rise in the number of children in the county educated in schools rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

In August 2012, 59 per cent of primary age pupils and just 47 per cent of secondary age pupils were in a school in one of those categories.

By December 2013 the rates had risen to 73 per cent and 68 per cent respectively.

Just over three quarters of schools themselves are rated as good or outstanding, an identical proportion to the East Midlands as a whole.

A spokesman for the county council congratulated schools on the hard work of staff and the support of their governing bodies, adding: “We will continue to work closely with those schools and academy sponsors where extra support and assistance is needed.”