9 March 2022
Dr Claire Crawford is from the UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities, and is part of the Wage and Employment Dynamics project team. She has been studying the potential to link the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) dataset to administrative education data. The study has found that there would be significant appetite and value in linking ASHE to the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataset.
Funded by ADR England, this study set out to scope the feasibility of linking ASHE to education data and to scope existing plans for data linkages. A report, which has just been published, provides recommendations for which linkages should be taken forward. It primarily focuses on the feasibility of linking data for individuals living in England, but other nations were also considered.
ASHE is a longitudinal survey which collects information about the employment of a 1% sample of employees in the UK (comprising roughly 300,000 individuals). The data is collected directly from employers and contains detailed information about gross pay (including overtime and incentive pay), hours and occupation, as well as some basic background characteristics, such as gender.
The study considered the pros and cons of linking England data from:
- the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) which records participation in higher education
- Individual Learner Records (ILR) which records participation in further education
- the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data, which combines ILR and HESA data with school records from the National Pupil Database (as well as tax and benefit records).
The report suggests there is significant appetite within the Department for Education (DfE) (the primary data owner of LEO data for England) for a link between ASHE and LEO. This would bring together data on employee earnings, including hours of work and occupations, from ASHE with detailed data on education, benefit receipt, and other earnings data from LEO. The linked data would provide new insights into, among other questions, the returns to different educational qualifications and pathways, including by subject and for different subgroups.
There is also value in considering links between ASHE and administrative education data in other UK nations, although there are no plans as yet to create a UK-wide spine of wage and employment data linked to education data.
Data shared with researchers via trusted research environments is de-identified, with rigorous safeguards in place to protect it from re-identification. Read more about our ethics and safeguards.
The report recommends that ADR UK work closely with DfE to identify how support from ADR UK could be used to link ASHE and LEO data. If that option does not prove feasible, then a link to standalone HESA data could be pursued instead. The report also recommends keeping in touch with representatives from other UK nations about plans for linking ASHE to other data. This will allow opportunities for future data development to be identified. Finally, ADR UK should discuss the possibility of sharing data such as linked ASHE data across the four UK nations. This would maximise the benefits of these linked data projects.
Dr Emma Gordon, Director of ADR UK said: “ADR UK will pursue talks with the Department for Education to link the ASHE dataset to the LEO dataset. Providing research access to such a linked, de-identified dataset would give us valuable insights into the occupations and earnings related to the different educational qualifications in England. This could help us examine how people move to and progress in different occupations. It could be particularly useful to examine how this movement and progress differs among various groups of people.”