The College & The Vision
With more than 40,000 students and over 1,300 staff, Leeds City College is one of the largest Further Education Colleges in the country. For a college of this size and in such a vibrant region to be successful, it needs a big strategic vision, and this is exactly what Colin Booth has been attempting to drive since his appointment as Principal & Chief Executive in October 2015. Noted by Ofsted as a “programme of culture change to raise standards leading to students’ enjoyment, development and success,” the College has developed a five-year strategic plan which includes the commitment to:
- Inspire students to succeed by providing excellent learning through a personalised student learning journey
- Build effective partnerships enhancing our reputation as a lead deliverer of all vocational and work-based learning
- Provide products and services designed to meet local and regional skills needs
- Apply innovative solutions that seek commercial opportunities to support educational priorities
Serving the Needs of a Dynamic Region
Leeds City Region is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic and fast changing economic environments in the country, and through the devolution deal there is bound to be even more changes in the employment and skills landscape over the coming months and years. Though it already has excellent relationships with employers and businesses across the Leeds City Region, the College recognises the need to significantly up its game if it is to continue to meet local economic and employment demand.
Critical to answering these challenges is the ability of the College to understand both its position in the skills market and the needs of local and regional employers. Why is this critical? Well, without really understanding what the skills needs are and how the College is currently meeting those needs, the claim to be a “provider of products and services designed to meet local and regional skills needs” is bound to sound a little hollow. Whereas with a broad and in-depth knowledge of the local and regional labour market, meeting the needs of local businesses and helping to drive the creation of a better skilled and more productive workforce becomes a real possibility.
Understanding Regional Skills Needs
Wanting to get a better understanding of the skills needs of the local and regional economy is one thing; actually getting a better understanding is another. To answer this need, the College brought in Emsi’s online data tool, Analyst, at the end of 2015. The College was already well acquainted with the tools data capabilities, having previously commissioned various consulting reports from Emsi, including a Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) report which was used to support Bid Development activity; an Economic Impact Study; and a Curriculum Audit assessing the College’s curriculum against the demand for jobs and skills in priority sectors.
What marks Analyst out as unique is its ability to delve down to the most granular levels of industry and occupation data, and at the most granular geographic levels. It is this vital level of detail that provides the kinds of solutions the College was looking for in its attempts to better understand and react to the needs of the region.
Rachel Mather, the College’s Research & Bid Development Manager, sees Analyst as a vital part of the College’s efforts of rising to the skills challenges in the region:
“We will be using Analyst to explore the changing economic dynamics within our catchment area, such as industry and occupation growth/decline, and to create a skills offer which is underpinned by a clear evidence base. Analyst data will support the development of a skills portfolio which offers responsive, dynamic and highly relevant training to provide the labour market with suitably skilled individuals to sustain long term economic growth.”
Rachel also sees the tool as playing a critical part in the College’s long-term strategic vision, with its forecast data able to give them a window on the future skills needs in the regional economy:
“Our focus is not only on the present workforce but proactively planning for future industry and sector skills needs. As a result, intelligence generated from Analyst will form a vital crux of our discussions with employers regarding curriculum reform, design and collaboration to devise new skills solutions.”
Since investing in the tool, the College’s Business Development & Employer Engagement Unit has developed a big vision for maximising its use. This includes a comprehensive action plan to ensure effective cross-College implementation of the tool, so that evidence-based intelligence becomes a fundamental component of all curriculum and strategic planning activities. In part 2, we’ll be looking at some of the ways the College is using Analyst data to develop its curriculum and its external activities. In part 3, we’ll take a look at some of the ways Analyst data is being used to develop the College internally. And in the final part, we’ll be looking at how intelligence from Analyst has been used to support a funding bid.
If you would like more information on how our data can help your college rise to its regional challenges, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.