ONE in seven adults in Huddersfield has no qualifications, a new study reveals.
The analysis comes as the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Trade warns it will have a detrimental impact on business if the younger generation do not equip themselves to drive the town’s future economy forward.
The University and College Union (UCU) study, based on an analysis of Office for National Statistics figures, showed that 14.1% of Huddersfield adults of working age – between 16 and 64 – had no qualifications in 2010.
The town ranked below the national average where 11.2% (one in 11) had no qualifications in the same period.
Steven Leigh, of Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Trade, said: “Huddersfield is well below the national average for people with no qualifications. We feel the main problem is with those not in education, employment or training. Around 40% of 16-year-olds leave school with no qualifications. How can an employer offer a job to someone who does not have reading, writing and numeracy skills?
“In the current economic climate we have people with degrees struggling to find employment.
“As a result employers are in a buyers market and can afford to hire the very best people they can get given there are plenty of people chasing every job. We need to tackle those post 16 age, who, for whatever reason, are not motivated to achieving basic levels of education which will allow them to add to the town’s growth in the future.”
His comments were echoed by Huddersfield University Vice-chancellor Bob Cryan, who also had some advice to older members of the community.
Speaking to the Examiner from Shanghai, China, Prof Cryan said: “With education comes opportunity and so it saddens me to learn that one in seven of our 16 to 64-year-olds have not yet taken advantage of the world class education system that we have.
“I am currently in China and for every one of us there are 20 of them and so the only way we can compete is to have a highly educated workforce.
“We have fantastic schools, colleges and a superb university in Huddersfield and so I would urge you to make the most of the facilities available and I can guarantee it will transform your life – it is never too late to take the first step.”
The study showed that people in areas with the lowest levels of qualifications were likely to suffer most from Government policies, which the UCU says will restrict access to education.
Such policies include the Government’s plans to triple tuition fees and scrapping the education maintenance allowance (EMA) – a grant handed to the poorest teenagers to help them stay in education.
Clr Ken Smith, Kirklees Council cabinet member for young people, said: “I would expect to see a number of those who have no qualifications fall into the post 16 age bracket from North Kirklees because we currently don’t have the provision for a local college, which is something which we are working on for the future.
“We have found that post 16~students prefer to go to college and if they have to travel some distance or go to a school because there is no college, then they are more likely to drop out and fall though the cracks.
“I think the loss of Educational Maintenance Grant (EMA) being scrapped will have further impact in the future as those from low income families struggle to break the cycle.”
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said they were building the “biggest apprenticeship programme our country has ever seen” with funding in place for 360,000 apprentices this year alone.