Research and analysis

Skills and lifelong learning: investment in skills

An analysis of the economic returns from different types of qualification.


Skills and lifelong learning: investment in skills

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This paper explores:

  • how much employers, individuals and government invest in skills
  • the costs and benefits of different types of qualification
  • the economic return to individuals associated with qualifications and how this varies with age

It was commissioned as part of the Foresight Future of skills and lifelong learning project.

Published 23 February 2017
Last updated 29 August 2017 + show all updates
  1. The authors have updated this paper to improve the robustness of certain figures. Specifically, they have updated the monetary value of gaining a bachelor’s degree, and the returns per pound invested. They have also provided more clarity on the calculations used in Section 3.3. These updates have not significantly changed the overall conclusions. For more information, please contact

  2. First published.