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People & Skills

Information about People and Skills includes data on population and protected characteristics, employment, education and attainment.

Skills gaps

reported in a range of technical, specialist, and soft skills.

Lower qualifications

profile than the rest of England (excluding London). 

Higher % of disabled residents

than in the rest of England (excluding London). 


Of graduates

live in the North East after 5 years. 

Poor health outcomes

compared to nationally.

About this investment theme

The focus for this investment theme is to:

  • Boost core skills and support adults to progress in work, by targeting adults with no or low level qualifications and skills in maths, upskilling the working population, and encouraging innovative approaches to reducing learning barriers.
  • Support disadvantaged people to access the skills they need to progress in life and into work.
  • Support local areas to fund local skills needs and supplement local adult skills provision. 
  • Reduce levels of economic inactivity and move those furthest from the labour market closer to employment, through investment in bespoke employment support tailored to local need. 

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Population and protected characteristics 

Projected population increase in the North East is much lower than nationally and varies across local authorities. The North East experiences poor health outcomes compared to nationally, and there is considerable variation within the region too. 

The North East has an ageing population, with the number of people aged 65 and over projected to grow by 133,000 by 2043. The region also has a greater proportion of working age disabled residents than England excluding London, and ethnic minorities make up a smaller percentage of the region's working age population.


The North East has a smaller proportion of professional roles, and a higher percentage of workers in non-permanent employment than England excluding London. 

In 2019, North East employers reported a range of technical and soft skills gaps, with the largest gap compared to nationally being specialist skills or knowledge. In 2019, over three fifths of North East employers reported a need to upskill staff in the following 12 months. 

Over half of North East employment is in health, manufacturing, education, retail and hospitality.


Education and attainment

The North East has a lower qualifications profile than the rest of England, and progress to address this has slowed.

More young people in the region are moving into further education compared to nationally, and just over three quarters of students finishing 16-18 study in 2018/2019 moved into sustained education, an apprenticeship, or employment. Despite this, apprenticeship and education achievement totals have decreased during the past two years. 


Further Education

Higher education and graduates

Higher education students from the North East are more likely to study here and more likely to be living here five years after graduation. Approximately 40% of graduates from the four regional universities were still living in the North East after 5 years, although regional residency of graduates five years after graduating varies greatly by University.

North East HE specialisms are focused in physical sciences and geography, earth and environmental studies. North East graduates in 2018/19 were less likely to be working full-time than 2017/18 equivalents, and more likely to be combining employment with study or be unemployed.  

Evidence review on 'what works' 

In support of the development of the regional UKSPF evidence base, we have compiled a list of policy evaluations and evidence reviews aligned with the UKSPF investment themes. This summary can be found here.