In part 1 of this piece, we drew attention to the following map from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, which shows that the majority of graduates in England go on to find employment in the region they studied in:
1. The fact that the majority of students remain in their region gives universities a great incentive to drive regional growth in ways that would not be possible if most students moved to other regions.
2. By using local and regional Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) to find out what the knowledge and skills needs of their region are, universities can begin to shape a curriculum that is closely aligned to the needs regional employers have for graduate level employees.
3. Such an approach greatly benefits the university, regional employers, and of course those students who stay in the region after graduating.
This last point — the benefits to students — now needs fleshing out a little. Universities that use LMI to adopt a localised or regional approach to their curriculum planning will clearly have a positive impact on the lives of many students, but in order for this approach to have maximum effect the university needs to engage not just on the curriculum side of things, but also on the careers side of things. It is one thing having a curriculum that is aligned to the needs of the area, but making sure that potential students can take full advantage of this is another thing altogether. So how can this be done?
The answer might seem surprising, but it essentially involves using more LMI — albeit delivered in a more “student-friendly” format. If LMI can be used to help a university understand the employment trends for, say, Programmers and software development professionals, why can it not also be used to help students who might be considering a career as a Programmer or software developer? The answer is that it can, as the following information, taken from the Southampton Solent Career Coach site demonstrates (the data here is for the Southern Region):
Why is this information important? Because it helps students understand the trends for the occupation they are applying for, which in turn can help them to think through whether training for that position is necessarily a good idea. In the case above, where the numbers of Programmers and software development professionals looks set to rise in the Southern region, those considering going into this profession and staying in the South/Southampton region will be reassured that there is likely (not guaranteed of course) going to be a career at the end of their studies.
The use of LMI to students does not end there, however, and can also be used to inform them of details such as:
- Salary — The range for a particular occupation, from entrance level to high level
- Similar careers — Other occupations requiring a similar knowledge base and similar skills
- Job postings — The latest local and regional vacancies in a particular career
- Relevant courses — Degrees that the university offers that can take them into the career they are considering
This last point — linking students to courses which can get them into the career they are considering — is really key to making the whole process work. Having a regionally focussed curriculum is crucial for any university seeking to drive regional growth, as is giving students and potential students the information and trends about occupations in their region that they need to make sensible career decisions. But it is only when the university connects these things via the courses they offer that prospective students are given the direction and vision they need to help them into sustainable careers which the region needs.
In summary, the fact that most graduates gain employment in their region of study gives universities a great opportunity to really take a lead in driving regional economic growth. But to take full advantage of the opportunities that this affords, universities can:
1. Use good LMI to gain an understanding of the needs of the local and regional economy, so that they can develop a curriculum that accords with these needs
2. Use local and regional LMI to inform students and prospective students of occupation trends, wages, similar careers and current vacancies in their area
3. Link people to viable careers, via the education that the university provides, so that they can take their place in the regional workforce with the knowledge and skills that the region really needs
For more details on how Career Coach, our online careers tool, can help your university drive regional growth by pointing people towards sustainable careers, contact Jamie Mackay on firstname.lastname@example.org