Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Adult skills - who gets invested in and how has this changed over time?

Warwick IER has produced a report for the Social Mobility Commission looking at who invests in adult skills and how this has changed over time. It is available from

Rationale for the study

This study was a desk-based analysis of who invests in adult skills and how this has changed over time. As social mobility is high on the political agenda in the UK, the aim of this research was to add to the knowledge about who invests in adult skills by socioeconomic background and other characteristics, and about the relationship between investment in adult skills and labour market outcomes, for adults who have already entered the labour market.

A better understanding of investment in adult skills in the UK can help improve policy recommendations regarding social mobility outcomes, in light of the government agenda of this Parliament and longer-term changes to jobs and skills, as well as contribute to recommendations about measuring and monitoring data going forward.

Research outputs

The Adult Skills Gap report finds evidence of ‘vicious’ and ‘virtuous’ circles of training, whereby those with low or no qualifications are much less likely to access education and training after leaving school compared to those with high qualifications. The report also highlights that UK investment in training is low by international standards. This leaves big questions about how the government, employers, and society more broadly can ensure better prospects for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The report was launched on the 29th of January 2019 with an accompanying press release. Its findings were covered by the Financial Times and the Independent, and were discussed on The Today Programme.

Project Team:

Daria Luchinskaya (Principal Investigator)

Peter Dickinson

Project Duration:

September 2017 - July 2018


Social Mobility Commission logo