More than seven out of 10 working-age people living in the “Inner London - West” region are educated to tertiary level, which represents the highest rate in Europe.

London and South West England are home to four of the top five EU regions with the highest share of graduate residents aged 25-64, according to recent data released by eurostat.

Tertiary education centres include universities, vocational colleges, technology institutes and other establishments offering degree or professional certificate courses.

In 2017, more than 30% of the EU’s working-age population held a tertiary-level educational qualification, up almost 8% from a decade earlier.

Local knowledge

Some of Europe’s capital cities exert a magnetic pull on graduates, who are attracted by job prospects as well as the bright lights of city life. Many public and private sector organizations base their headquarters in major cities, for example.

Image: Eurostat

London dominates the 2017 top five destinations for tertiary-educated people of working age, with two inner-city areas occupying the top spots. After Inner London - West, the East region is second with a graduate rate of more than one in every six working residents.

More than half of working-age people (55%) in the Outer London - West and North West region hold a tertiary qualification. Away from the capital the rate drops only slightly in the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire region.

Outside of the UK, the eurostat poll found five regions with more than half of their population educated to tertiary level. These include two suburbs of Belgium’s capital city Brussels, and Nordic capital city regions in Helsinki, Stockholm and Hovedstaden.

Future shock

On the other side of the education divide, some EU areas lack skilled labour. In some of these mostly rural regions, the proportion of graduates in the working population fell below 20% of the resident workforce.

An educated labour force is a key component of the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which demands workers capable of adapting to, or reskilling for, a technology-based economy.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2018 points to the growing need for the workforce to develop digital literacy skills to meet the needs of fast-evolving technologies.

Countries like the UK and Sweden – which ranks top globally for the digital skills of its workforce – boast high concentrations of educated workers, who are better able to adapt existing skills to new tasks and transfer knowledge quickly.

Educated, flexible labour markets are better able to deal with unexpected shocks and face the challenges of an ever-changing economy. These are vital attributes as 4IR technologies create new opportunities and a new reality for millions of people around the world.