The underpinning theme emerging from the recent AoC Annual Conference was the necessity for colleges to ensure that the learning and training being delivered meets the current and future skills needs of the local communities they serve. This point is also being made by OFSTED (TES, 23rd November) who advocate that college success measures should move from the current focus on qualification achievement towards a system evaluated against successful and sustainable learner outcomes.
What does this mean? It means that to accurately judge the impact of a further or higher education college depends on the successes of the learners and the graduates. Evaluating the success of a college by measuring the number of graduates instead of what those graduates go on to accomplish is like measuring the safety of an aeroplane by counting the number of passengers.
One of the greatest challenges to achieving this transition is to find ways to truly understand the skills needs of a local labour market. Importantly though, it is not simply good enough to look at today’s challenges but colleges also need to understand how local skills demand is changing into the future so they can ensure the training they deliver today develops a workforce that fits the labour market of tomorrow.
In other words, college principals need a way to answer the following questions:
- What does my local labour market look like and how is this projected to change over the next, 3, 5 and 7 years?
- How does my college’s curriculum fit this picture?
- Where are the gaps in my provision that can help my college meet local demand?
- How can I help to transition the local workforce from high-risk jobs into sustainable careers?
- How can I understand the changing labour market needs of local businesses across different sectors?
Various datasets and tools are emerging to help address these challenges in the UK, ranging from official government statistics to real-time LMI tools, but these only ever answer a small element of your requirement. Government statistics can tell us what our labour market looked like a few years ago and real-time LMI can explain what jobs are churning in the current labour market, but neither is as complete as a college requires in order to accurately evaluate its economic impact.
EMSI is the only provider of complete, localised and detailed labour market profiles and projections in a single tool that will help you answer all of these questions, and many more. And with the imminent release of an updated dataset and a new, even easier-to-use interface, there has never been a better time for you to find out how EMSI can help you.
We are already working with over 25 colleges, including Bedford College, Dearne Valley College, and Southampton Solent University, and key sector associates such as City & Guilds, to help the sector meet the challenge.