Ireland remains at the top end of the EU education table

Ireland holds its own at the top end of the EU ladder for educational attainment.

More than half of 25-64 year olds (53%) in the country have a tertiary degree, the highest in the EU, compared to an average across the 27 countries of a third (33%).

Ireland’s figure is up from 42 per cent a decade ago as more school leavers enter college, but the influx of highly skilled professionals is also making itself felt.

The impressive literacy rates of younger age cohorts can be seen in the data, with 62 per cent of 30-34 year olds in Ireland having at least a bachelor’s degree. Here, Ireland shares second place with Cyprus, just behind Luxembourg’s 63 percent, all well above the EU average of 42 percent.

The figures also show the high level of education of those living and working in Ireland. While 52 per cent of Irish nationals aged 25-64 have a third level qualification, the figure for non-Irish nationals is 61 per cent.

Figures for 2021-2022 were published in the Central Statistics Office (CSO) Thematic Education Report 2022. They are based on data from the Labor Force Survey Q2 2022 and 2021 from the EU statistical authority Eurostat.

There are significant regional differences. For example, in Dublin 62 per cent of 25-64 year olds have a third level qualification compared to 46 per cent in the Midlands.

In Border Counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo, 6 per cent of 25-64 year olds have only primary education or no formal education, twice that of West, South West, Midland and Dublin regions.

Women of all ages have higher tertiary attainment than men, with rates of 66 percent and 62 percent for women aged 25–34 and 35–44, respectively, compared to 60 percent and 54 percent for men.

The gender gap is universal, but the gap in Ireland is the fourth lowest in the EU as more women aged 30-34 have graduated, but the gap in Ireland is the fourth lowest. In Ireland, among those aged 30 to 34, 65 per cent of women and 59 per cent of men have a tertiary qualification, compared with 47 per cent versus 36 per cent over the 27 years.

It follows that school completion rates in Ireland are very high, also compared to other EU countries.

In the period since 2012, the proportion of 25-64 year olds with only primary education has fallen from 10% to 3%.

In 2021, 85 per cent of all 20-24 year-olds in the EU-27 had at least an upper secondary education, but the corresponding figure for Ireland was 96 per cent, tied with Greece and slightly behind Croatia’s 97 per cent

Among 18-24 year olds in 2021, an average of 10 per cent were classified as early school leavers, but the Irish equivalent rate was 3 per cent, among the fourth lowest. Ireland remains at the top end of the EU education table

Fry Electronics Team

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