According to statistics from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, six months after leaving university, most graduates from English universities find employment in the same region as the institution where they studied. The map below, taken from the website of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), shows a regional breakdown of the numbers, and what is interesting is that even in regions where the majority of graduates do not remain in the region in which they studied – East Midlands and the South East – the numbers that do remain are nonetheless significant (43% and 48% respectively).
What are the implications of this? No doubt there are many, but one of the more significant is this: if most students end up working in the area in which they studied, universities find themselves in a unique position of being able to really advance the prosperity of their region simply by ensuring that they are training students in the knowledge and skills that are actually needed in the region. Put another way, if a sizeable proportion of students that go through an institution will go on to employment in the same area, doesn’t this present a huge opportunity for universities to shape their curriculum to the needs of the region, and so play a big part in driving regional growth?
Undoubtedly it does, but this then begs another question: how do universities find out what the knowledge and skills needs of their region actually are? The answer is to tap into regional Labour Market Intelligence to find out the needs for graduate employment in the area.
So for example, let’s imagine a university in the North West where, according to the DLHE figures, something close to 70% of people who graduate will go on to find employment in the region. Using Labour Market Intelligence for the North West, we can begin to unpick some of the major labour market trends in the region. There are a host of different approaches we could take, but let’s just use a basic one whereby we seek to find out what the fastest growing graduate level jobs in the North West over the next three years are likely to be. The following table, pulled from our Analyst tool, lists the top 10:
|Description||2015 Jobs||2018 Jobs||Change||Education Level|
|Source: EMSI Covered Employment - 2015.1|
|Nurses||80,187||83,033||2,846||Honours, Bachelor's degree; Level 6|
|Medical practitioners||32,848||34,153||1,305||Honours, Bachelor's degree; Level 6|
|Chartered and certified accountants||25,240||26,466||1,226||Honours, Bachelor's degree; Level 6|
|Human resources and industrial relations officers||20,812||21,701||889||Honours, Bachelor's degree; Level 6|
|Secondary education teaching professionals||40,459||41,139||680||Masters; Level 5 NVQ; Level 7|
|Sales accounts and business development managers||48,884||49,558||674||Honours, Bachelor's degree; Level 6|
|Programmers and software development professionals||18,193||18,818||625||Honours, Bachelor's degree; Level 6|
|Human resource managers and directors||17,314||17,887||573||Honours, Bachelor's degree; Level 6|
|Management consultants and business analysts||15,489||16,053||564||Honours, Bachelor's degree; Level 6|
|Financial managers and directors||24,943||25,482||539||Honours, Bachelor's degree; Level 6|
The information here, although just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be uncovered, gives us some valuable information. For example, we learn from this that the fastest growing graduate level occupation in the North West over the next three years is likely to be nurses (set to grow by almost 2,900), followed by medical practitioners (set to grow by about 1,300), and then chartered and certified accountants (set to grow by more than 1,200).
For university planners who are really seeking to drive growth in their local and regional economy, this type of information is invaluable, since it takes away the need either for guesswork or for hundreds of manhours spent sourcing and trying to make sense of the multiple labour market data sources out there. However, as stated above, the information in this table is only the tip of the iceberg, and good Labour Market Intelligence can be used to answer a host of other pertinent questions, including:
- Which graduate level jobs are set to decrease most over the next few years?
- Which are the highest employing graduate level jobs in our region?
- Which industries are these jobs found in?
- Which industries are set to grow or decrease the most in our region?
- How do the courses at our institution compare to the current and future needs of our regional economy?
- By delving down beneath the regional geography (i.e. to county/unitary authority level, and even local authority level) can we get even more specific in terms of the needs of the county, city or town we serve?
The figures on the map above, looked at in the right light, show that the higher education sector can play a major part in regional prosperity. Were it the case that most students tend to leave their region of study after graduation, it would be extremely difficult for universities to be able to connect their students to the needs of the economy, since they would have no way of knowing what those needs actually are. But if the majority remain in the area, universities can use this to their advantage, not to mention the advantage of employers, by discovering what the needs of their region are, and then shaping a curriculum which is more closely geared to those needs.
Universities that take this approach will of course also hugely benefit their students, and in the second part of this piece we’ll look at this in more detail.
For more details on how our data can help your university drive regional growth, read our response to Sir Andrew Witty’s Review of Universities and Growth here, or contact Jamie Mackay on email@example.com.