We now come to the final part in this series looking at how colleges can ensure they are well prepared for their area review. As we mentioned in Part 1, the background to the area reviews is the Government’s desire to “raise productivity and economic growth”, and one of the two objectives of the reviews is to foster “Better responsiveness to local employer needs and economic priorities”.
We suggested that for colleges, what this might mean is that they should seek to go into their area review with the ability to:
1. Articulate the existing economic value and contribution they make to local productivity
2. Show that they understand the needs and priorities of their local labour market
3. Evidence that they are responding to local employer needs and economic priorities.
We covered the first of these two points in Part 2 and Part 3, but even if a college were to undertake these steps they would still be left with a question: Articulating our current economic impact and showing that we have taken steps to better understand our local economy are clearly important, but how on earth do we evidence that we are responding to local employer needs and economic priorities?
If the area reviews are looking for evidence from colleges that they have taken steps or are taking steps to ensure that their curriculum is aligned with local employment needs and economic priorities, what colleges need is therefore a mechanism whereby they can map their curriculum to their local labour market. Ordinarily, this would seem like a daunting, perhaps even impossible task. However, we’d like to share with you a couple of tools that we have recently developed, which take away virtually all the hassles and problems involved in mapping courses to labour market demand.
The first of these tools is a presentation-ready consultancy report, Course and Curriculum Alignment. The aim of these reports is to establish the level of course and curriculum alignment at a college with its labour market by focusing on matching the supply of learners (course completers) with demand for the applicable occupations and careers that align to the courses the learner completes. These reports contain the following:
A comparison of labour market demand against the college’s courses
A supply/demand analysis highlighting where the college is oversupplying to the local economy, and areas of possible undersupply
Staffing Pattern Analysis
An analysis of the primary occupations of workers in the college’s regional industries
A summing up of the main findings of the report, with suggestions for curriculum areas that the college might consider increasing or decreasing to better align with the labour market
You can see for yourself more clearly what is contained in these reports by clicking here or on the image above, both of which link to an anonymised version.
Curriculum Planner is a new function that we have recently built into Analyst, which enables colleges to upload their courses into the tool and very quickly view the relationship between course completion volumes (labour market supply) and local employment trends for associated occupations (labour market demand). Curriculum Planner enables colleges to identify which courses are currently oversupplying the labour market, and which areas of high labour market demand are currently not being met. This can then feed back into curriculum planning to ensure true responsiveness to the needs of the local economy.
After inputting the courses into the system, the college can download two key reports:
1. A detailed review of a course area or collection of course areas
2. A summary overview of all course areas, completion numbers and key employment trends
We’re Here to Help
The announcement of the area reviews seems to have shaken the sector somewhat, partly because they are an unknown quantity, and partly because the subtext of them is clearly that colleges that are deemed to be failing to respond to local employer needs and economic priorities will be forced to collaborate, merge or even close. However, we believe that with the right planning and preparation, colleges can go into their reviews confident that they have everything they need to convince the steering group that they are “responding to local employer needs and economic priorities”.
We are here to help you achieve this, and we are confident that the tools we have mentioned throughout this series will prove to be of inestimable value as you prepare for your review. With an Economic Impact Study, you can confidently demonstrate to the steering group that your college plays a crucial part in boosting local economic productivity and growth. With Analyst, you can show clearly that you have a sound understanding of the needs and priorities of your local economy. And with our Consulting offer or Curriculum Planner function, you can demonstrate that you have taken steps to respond effectively to those needs and priorities.
If you would like more information about how we can help you navigate your way through your area review, contact Andy Durman (firstname.lastname@example.org)