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UK Competitiveness

Volume 451: debated on Monday 30 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the competitiveness of (a) South Korea and (b) the United Kingdom in terms of (i) educational attainment, (ii) levels of profit reinvested in research and development and (iii) improvement of skills levels through further and higher education. (97885)

For international comparisons of educational attainment and skill levels, the main source of comparable international data is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's annual publication, ‘Education at a Glance’. The most recent statistics available are for 2004 and the relevant figures for the United Kingdom and Korea are presented in the following table.

Educational attainment of the adult (aged 25-64) population, 2004

Percentage of the adult population with their highest qualification classified as:

Low

Intermediate

High

United Kingdom

35

36

29

Korea

26

44

30

Source: OECD Education at a Glance 2006. Low, intermediate and high are derived from the International Standard Classification of Education. Low relates to the successful completion of compulsory schooling with the skills required for further study; intermediate skills prepare an individual for higher education; high skills are degree or equivalent qualifications.

For R and D, data collected by the Office for National Statistics from the UK Business Enterprise R and D Survey shows that in 2004, £13.5 billion was spent on R and D performed within UK businesses. This represents 1.15 per cent. of gross domestic product. The OECD reports the equivalent business enterprise R and D statistics for Korea.

Business Enterprise R and D as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP)

UK

Korea

2000

1.20

1.77

2001

1.23

1.97

2002

1.24

1.90

2003

1.23

2.00

2004

1.15

2.19

Source: ONS (UK) and OECD (Korea)