We wrote a couple of weeks ago about a section on higher education in The Economist’s report – Automated, Creative & Dispersed – in which the case was made that the “University of the Future” will need to align itself far more closely with the needs of industry, in order to be able to supply employers with the right kind of skills. In our piece we made the case that for this to happen, access to good data is key since it can help a university uncover answers to questions such as:
- Which sectors are set to grow in our region the most over the next few years?
- Which graduate occupations do these industries employ?
- Are there any sectors which have a comparative advantage in our region?
- What are their needs for graduate employment?
- How do our courses compare to the current and future needs of our regional economy?
However, a possible objection to this might run something like this: becoming better aligned with the needs of industry sounds all well and good, but if our graduates end up working outside the region we serve, how is our being better aligned with regional industry needs going to help either the employers or those students?
The answer to that question may well be contained in some research carried out earlier this year by the Higher Education Careers Service Unit (HECSU). In Loyals, Stayers, Returners and Incomers: Graduate migration patterns, Charlie Ball helpfully identifies four different types of student, according to where they come from and where they end up after university. These are:
Loyals – Graduates who go to university in the region where they live, and who are working in that same region six months after completing their degree
Returners – Those who study outside their home region, and then return to that region to work after graduating
Stayers – Those who study outside their home region and then stay in that region to work
Incomers – Those who work in a region in which they neither studied nor were domiciled
The report depicts these four cohorts across the 12 government regions of the United Kingdom in the following graph:
This information ought to be a real eye opener for university planners. What it shows is that a significant – and in most cases majority – of students do actually stay in their region of study to work.
So for example, in every region except London and the East the biggest cohort is the Loyals, and in five out of the 12 regions, the number of Loyals is over 50%. Add to this the Stayers, and you find that with the exception of London, the East, and the South East, in all other regions the number of students that end up working in the same region in which they studied six months after graduating is above 50% (the average across all regions is 62.66%).
This is important news for universities who really are seeking to better align themselves and their curriculums with the needs of local and regional industries. Not only can they tap into Labour Market Data in order to begin to shape a curriculum that better serves the realities of local industry demand, but they can do so in the knowledge that this will not be a wasted effort since many, if not most, of their students will remain in the area after graduation.
At a time when the “skills gap” has become one of the biggest barriers to national economic growth, and at a time when localism and regionalism are key concepts for the Government, universities are likely to find themselves being subject to more and more scrutiny over whether their courses are serving the needs of industry in their region. The good news is that through a combination of good regional Labour Market Intelligence, along with the fact that most graduates will stay and work in their region of study, universities have never had a more favourable opportunity to align with the needs of industry, close the “skills gap” and so take their place as true economic drivers.
For more information about how we can help your university better align with your regional economy, contact Dr Jamie Mackay at firstname.lastname@example.org