A new scheme, in which employers will pay 1/3 of the cost of training apprentices, has recently begun on a trial basis. Under the scheme, apprenticeship providers could receive up to £27,000 for every apprentice they train, with as much as £9,000 coming from employers.
A recent editorial in FE Week described the fact of providers securing cash from employers as a good thing, but wondered whether the negotiations that will inevitably go on between providers and employers might have the unintended consequence of not only driving price down, but also the quality of training. These are reasonable questions, but it is equally possible that the new system could have the effect of driving standards up, not down, as any employer prepared to pay for apprenticeships will be seeking increased value for their money and providers will have to respond accordingly.
One thing is for sure: this system will present colleges offering apprenticeships with many challenges, and they may well find themselves being more accountable to employers than previously. Seen in the right light, however, the system could also present colleges with a golden opportunity to be more proactive in the area of apprenticeships, by targeting employers in the region and showing that they are aware of their needs.
One way of achieving this is for there to be more communication with employers. But are there any other methods? Actually yes. Labour Market Information, rightly harnessed and modelled presents an effective way for colleges to become acquainted with the needs of employers in their area ahead of picking up the phone and talking to them.
Imagine that a college was able to write to employers within a certain industry in their region, and could demonstrate clearly that they were aware of the employment needs of the industry. Not only would this be extremely impressive to employers, but the proactive nature of reaching out to these employers would surely give the college a great bargaining position when it came to the kinds of price negotiations mentioned in the FE Week editorial.
But how can this be done? The answer is by making the connection between industries and occupations using “Staffing Patterns”. To walk through an example of how this works, let’s pick Cambridgeshire as a sample region. The following table shows the top 10 fastest growing industries in Cambridgeshire, measured by changes in the numbers of people employed in these industries from 2013 to 2018:
|SIC Code||Description||2013 Jobs||2018 Jobs||Change|
|Source: EMSI Covered Employment - 2014.1|
|7112||Engineering activities and related technical consultancy||8,119||9,491||1,372|
|8531||General secondary education||6,635||7,512||877|
|5630||Beverage serving activities||5,502||6,318||816|
|5610||Restaurants and mobile food service activities||6,750||7,450||700|
|6201||Computer programming activities||4,346||5,012||666|
|6920||Accounting, bookkeeping and auditing activities; tax consultancy||3,325||3,976||651|
|6202||Computer consultancy activities||5,223||5,847||624|
|8121||General cleaning of buildings||5,009||5,597||588|
|6190||Other telecommunications activities||2,343||2,803||460|
Note that these figure show not just high level industry data, such as Manufacturing or Professional, Scientific and Technical activities, but rather far more specific industries, right down to the 4-digit SIC code level.
At the top of this list of fastest growing industries is Engineering activities and related technical consultancy, which is set to grow by about 1,372 jobs between 2013 and 2018. Now this is good to know, but is this by itself enough to inform a college as to the major needs of this industry? The answer is no, for the simple reason that it doesn’t actually tell us anything about the occupation needs within the industry.
A similar exercise could be run looking at the fastest growing occupations in Cambridgeshire, but although this information would be highly useful, this time the problem would be the other way around and the college would know all about jobs but wouldn’t have the first clue which industries and therefore which employers they relate to.
To be properly informed as to the needs of employers in a region, colleges need to know not just which industries are set to grow, nor simply which occupations are set to rise, but also the connection between industry and occupation data. In other words, they need to be able to see which industries are set to grow and where the occupation growth is set to come from within these industries.
Our data is unique in making this connection between industries and occupations. Coming back to Cambridgeshire again, our Analyst tool can tell us not only that Engineering activities and related technical consultancy is set to be the fastest growing industry over the next few years, but also which jobs within that sector are likely to increase:
|SOC||Occupation||Employed in Industry (2013)||Employed in Industry (2018)||Change (2013 - 2018)||Education Level|
|Source: EMSI Covered Employment - 2014.1|
|2126||Design and development engineers||579||708||129||Level 6|
|2121||Civil engineers||465||532||67||Level 6|
|2434||Chartered surveyors||404||473||69||Level 6|
|1121||Production managers and directors in manufacturing||357||436||79||Level 6|
|2122||Mechanical engineers||256||297||41||Level 6|
|2424||Business and financial project management professionals||234||270||36||Level 6|
|3545||Sales accounts and business development managers||195||225||30||Level 6|
|4215||Personal assistants and other secretaries||189||211||22||Level 2|
|2136||Programmers and software development professionals||180||207||27||Level 6|
|3567||Health and safety officers||171||200||29||Level 6|
Now we are getting somewhere! Not only do we now know that Engineering activities and related technical consultancy is set to grow, we are not left to guess which occupations within this industry are set to increase. Some of these occupations we could perhaps have guessed, such as Design and development engineers and Civil engineers. But others, such as Business and financial project management professionals, are occupations that we might never have considered when thinking about the Engineering activities and related technical consultancy industry. However, our “Staffing Pattern” reveals that occupations such as this form a significant part of the industry, both in terms of current numbers and in terms of growth.
The connection between industries and occupations is therefore crucial for any college that wants to proactively connect with employers, and it is only with this level of insight that we can truly understand the skills need of employers in that industry. Armed with this type of market intelligence, a college would be in a great position to proactively approach employers in a particular industry, safe in the knowledge that there is a strong need for skills development while also demonstrating that they really do understand the kinds of needs they might have in the years to come.
For more information on our data capabilities, staffing patterns or our Analyst tool, please contact Andy Durman on firstname.lastname@example.org.