The most recent census data, published January 10th, shows that Oxford’s residential population is one of the best educated nationwide. Oxford, a city which has education at the heart of its local economy, is getting smarter.
The number of Oxford residents with no or lower level qualifications is falling, while the proportion of the population with higher-level qualifications is considerably increasing. Census data shows that 48.1% of Oxford’s usual resident population holds degrees and high-level vocational qualifications (Level 4), a significant increase from the previous 42.6%.
Leader of Oxford City Council, Susan Brown, told the council’s news feed that the City council aims to “encourage employers and developers to ensure more local people are developing skills, gaining qualifications and accessing high value, well paid jobs”. Oxford’s Level 3 (A-Levels, BTEC national levels, NVQ level 3 and equivalents) attainment average has seen a substantial rise; it has risen from 17.8% to 20.6%. This is far higher than the county of Oxfordshire’s level 3 and 4 averages at 17.1% and 42.0%.
The City Council has said it is investing in the “growth of the knowledge economy”. Roles in teaching, research and healthcare are being actively promoted. Those sectors are increasingly attracting a highly qualified workforce. Additionally, the census data suggests that far more graduates are choosing to settle down in Oxford after finishing their courses to contribute to the growth of the education sector. Moreover, the Oxford City Council has enabled the increase of the number of organisations paying the Oxford Living Wage, which is currently set at 90% of the London Living Wage, to stimulate local growth.
Other than London, Oxford ranks in the UK’s top 5 for percentage of population with a level 4 qualification or more. Those that beat Oxford include St Albans (53.0%), Elmbridge (52.1%) and Cambridge (55.8%).
In recent years, increased opportunity to join the workforce, as well as to do apprenticeships and non-formal qualifications, seeks to benefit the local economy. The strategy of Oxford City Council may well continue to make Oxford’s resident population smarter.