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Highest qualification

Census information about highest qualification is based on questions 26, 27, and 28 of the individual form.

To get statistics about highest qualification, we combine responses to the questions about highest secondary qualification and other completed qualifications. This gives us a single highest qualification by category – eg level 1 certificate; masters degree.

More New Zealand adults with formal qualifications

The 2013 Census showed the proportion of people aged 15 years and over who have a qualification has increased since the 2001 Census:

  • 2001 – 72.3 percent
  • 2006 – 75.0 percent
  • 2013 – 79.1 percent.

Higher qualifications more common

The proportion of people with higher qualifications (ie the categories bachelor’s degree and level 7 qualification; post-graduate and honours degrees; masters degree; and doctorate degree) was up from 15.8 percent (447,777 people) in 2006 to 20.0 percent (601,305 people) in 2013.

Figure 1

Graph, Highest qualification, 2006 and 2013 Censuses.

More women qualified

In 2013 the proportion of women with qualifications remained higher than that of men:

  • 79.5 percent of women had a qualification, compared with 75.3 percent in 2006.
  • 78.6 percent of men had a qualification, compared with 74.6 percent in 2006.

Women have achieved higher qualifications

The percentage of women was higher than men in each qualification category but two: level 4 certificate and doctorate degree. Women were dominant in the following qualification categories:

  • post-graduate and honours degree – 60.2 percent (52,137 people)
  • level 5 and level 6 diploma – 58.5 percent (162,555 people)
  • bachelor’s degree and level 7 – 57.8 percent (236,187 people).

The level 4 certificate was markedly dominated by men, at 71.2 percent (207,759 people). This certificate includes many trades qualifications.

Figure 2

Graph, Highest qualification and sex, 2013 Census.

Older people less likely to have formal qualifications

In 2013, people in the older age groups were less likely to have formal qualifications than people in all other age groups except 15–19 years. The 15–19-year age group is likely to still be attending school or studying, and therefore won’t have completed a qualification yet.

Of people aged 65 years and over (65+), 39.1 percent (197,226 people) had no qualifications. This was followed by those in the 60–64-year age group – 28.7 percent of whom (59,730 people) had no qualifications.

Figure 3

Graph, People with and without a qualification, by age group, 2013 Census.

Qualification levels different between age groups

For people with a qualification, the highest qualification gained differs between age groups:

  • The 30–34-year age group had the highest proportion of people with a bachelor’s degree or level 7, or higher qualification, at 38.8 percent (78,927 people).
  • The 65+ age group had the highest proportion of people with a level 5 or level 6 diploma, at 16.9 percent (51,903 people).

Figure 4

Graph, Age group by highest qualification groupings, 2013 Census.

Wellington city has the highest proportion of people with a bachelor’s degree or level 7, or higher qualification

Looking at the overall adult population in 2013, Wellington city had the highest proportion of people with a bachelor’s degree or level 7, or higher qualification, at 40.6 percent (59,265 people). This might be expected in a city home to central government. The next-highest were:

  • Auckland, with 24.7 percent (245,001 people)
  • Queenstown-Lakes district, with 24.6 percent (5,073 people).

Queenstown-Lakes district had the highest proportion of people with a level 5 or level 6 diploma, at 11.8 percent (2,433 people).

Figure 5

Graph, People with a bachelor's degree or level 7, or higher qualification, by territorial authority area, 2013 Census.

Highest qualification and ethnic group

The Māori and Pacific peoples ethnic groups had the largest proportional increases in people with a qualification. In 2013, the proportion of people with a formal qualification in these ethnic groups was:

  • 66.7 percent for Māori – up from 60.1 percent in 2006
  • 70.1 percent for Pacific peoples – up from 64.7 percent in 2006.

Figure 6

Graph, People with a qualification, by selected ethnic group, 2006 and 2013 Censuses.

The Asian ethnic group remained consistent as having the highest proportion of people with a qualification in 2006 and 2013 (87.7 percent and 88.0 percent, respectively).

Highest qualification differs by ethnic group

The different ethnic groups have different age structures. This affects the highest qualifications gained and the distribution of these qualifications.

Of the five major ethnic groups, the European ethnic group had the highest proportion of people with the following qualifications in 2013:

  • level 4 certificate – at 10.9 percent (247,104 people)
  • level 5 or level 6 diploma – at 9.9 percent (223,461 people).

The Asian ethnic group had the highest proportion of people with the following qualifications:

  • bachelor’s degree or level 7 qualification – at 23.7 percent (82,905 people)
  • overseas secondary school qualifications – at 23.0 percent (80,355 people).

Māori and Pacific peoples gaining higher qualifications

The proportion of Māori obtaining higher levels of qualifications has increased since 2006. Notably, the proportion of Māori with a bachelor’s degree or level 7 qualification increased – from 5.5 percent (17,907 people) in 2006, to 7.5 percent (27,057 people) in 2013.

Figure 7

Graph, Highest qualification for Māori, 2006 and 2013 Censuses.

The proportion of Pacific people gaining higher qualifications was also up. Again, the largest increase was in the bachelor’s degree and level 7 qualification category – up from 4.5 percent (6,510 people) in 2006, to 6.2 percent (10,440 people) in 2013.

Figure 8

Graph, Highest qualification for Pacific peoples, 2006 and 2013 Censuses.

Highest qualification and income

People with higher qualifications have higher personal income

The median income (for people who stated their highest qualification) in 2013 was $29,200. Median personal income was higher for people with higher qualifications.

The median income for people with no qualification, or level 1–3 certificate, or an overseas school qualification as their highest qualification was less than the overall median income.

Selected highest qualifications and median incomes in 2013 were:

  • people with no qualification – $19,400
  • people with a bachelor’s degree or level 7 qualification – $46,700
  • people with a doctorate degree – $83,600.

Women at all levels of qualifications had lower median incomes than men with the same level of qualification. This comparison is affected by more women working part-time – 70.4 percent of those working part-time were women.

Figure 9

Graph, Highest qualification by sex, by median personal income, 2013 Census.

Highest qualification and work

People with higher qualifications more likely to work full-time

According to the 2013 Census, people with higher qualifications were more likely to work full-time. In particular, 69.5 percent (15,507 people) of those with a doctorate degree worked full-time in 2013. This was followed by 68.2 percent (59,061 people) of those with a post-graduate and honours degree.

Figure 10

Graph, Highest qualification by work and labour force status, 2013 Census.

People with level 4 certificate more likely to be self-employed and/or employers

In 2013, people with a level 4 certificate were more likely to be:

  • self-employed – at 16.5 percent (35,886 people)
  • employers – at 10.0 percent or (21,720 people).

People with a level 3 certificate as their highest qualification were the most likely to be paid employees, at 85.7 percent (156,777 people).

The ‘no qualification’ category had the highest proportion of unpaid family workers – though the proportion was very low, at 2.8 percent (7,476 people) of those with no qualification.

Highest qualification varies across occupation groups

People with higher qualifications tend to work as professionals. In 2013, 77.7 percent (12,969 people) of people with a doctorate degree and 60.8 percent (42,414 people) of people with post-graduate and honours degrees were professionals.

The most common occupation groups for people with a bachelor’s degree or level 7 qualification were:

  • professionals – at 52.4 percent (165,984 people)
  • managers – 18.8 percent (59,463 people).

Figure 11

Graph, Occupation groups of people with a bachelor's degree or level 7 qualification, 2013 Census.

The most common occupation group for people with:

  • no qualifications was labourers, at 26.3 percent
  • a level 1 certificate was managers, at 19.7 percent.

The most common occupation group for people with a level 4 certificate was technicians and trades workers, at 33.8 percent (71,889 people). The level 4 certificate is mainly made up of trades certificates and vocational qualifications (eg electricians and mechanics).

Figure 12

Graph, Occupation groups of people with a level 4 certificate, 2013 Census.

Variations in qualifications by industry

The industry group a person worked in varied according to the level of their qualification.

For people with a level 1–3 certificate, the retail trade industry was the most common:

  • level 1 certificate –12.9 percent (29,151 people) worked in retail trade
  • level 2 certificate – 13.5 percent (28,518 people) worked in retail trade
  • level 3 certificate – 15.5 percent (27,966 people) worked in retail trade.

For people with a bachelor’s degree or level 7, or higher qualification, the most common industries to work in were:

  • education and training, at 18.4 percent (87,369 people)
  • professional, scientific, and technical services, at 17.7 percent (84,300 people)
  • health care and social assistance, at 15.2 percent (72,384 people).

Of those with a doctorate degree, 35.6 percent (6,324 people) worked in the education and training industry.

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