In the first part of this two-part series, we began by making reference to the transition grants which are being made available to colleges having to undergo “significant changes” resulting from the recommendations made by their area review steering groups. These grants of up to £100,000 for big changes (such as large mergers), and £50,000 for smaller changes (such as smaller mergers and “rationalisation”), are there to “ensure providers can access the best change management skills and have the capacity to make the changes at the pace required.”
We went on to highlight what some of those changes might be, whether for colleges undergoing a merger or collaboration, or an individual college that has been directed to re-align its curriculum in line with local economic needs. The issues we identified were:
- Understanding the Needs of Your Local Economy
- Understanding How Well Your Curriculum Meets Local Needs
- Understanding Your Local Economy and Curriculum Alignment in the Long-Term
- Articulating Your College’s Impact on the Local Economy
Having set the scene, in this piece we want to offer some solutions to these issues, each one of which we believe will be enormously helpful in giving colleges the capacity to make those “significant changes at the pace required.”
Solution # 1 – Local Economic Scan
Once again it is worth reminding ourselves that two of the main objectives of the area reviews were “Raising productivity and economic growth”, and “Better responsiveness to local employer needs and economic priorities”. There are likely to be some colleges that, in the eyes of the steering group, are not adequately meeting these objectives. Equally, those colleges that merge will need to work together to review demand in their local and regional economy. In both instances, the colleges in question will need to take immediate steps to understand their local economy better.
Our Local Economic Scan provides a simple and elegant way of achieving this. The Scan is a presentation-ready consulting piece, which provides a full examination of trends in the college’s local labour market. This includes elements such as:
- Industry Demand — A detailed review of employment trends in your local labour market
- Occupational Demand — A detailed review of occupational needs in your local economy
- Gap Analysis — Identification of in-demand occupations in your local economy which are not currently being met by your curriculum
Solution # 2 – Curriculum Rationalisation
For colleges that are being tasked with rationalising their provision, and those that will need to do so as part of a merger or even collaboration, the key point as far as achieving better responsiveness to local needs is concerned is to ensure that the rationalisation takes place in the right places. Our Curriculum Rationalisation Report provides a quick, yet detailed method of ensuring this occurs.
The aim of this piece of consulting is to establish the level of course and curriculum alignment at a college or colleges with local and regional labour market demand. It does this 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. The report contains the following:
- Curriculum Audit — A comparison of labour market demand against courses
- Gap Analysis — A supply/demand analysis highlighting where the college is over or undersupplying the local economy
- Staffing Pattern Analysis — An analysis of the primary occupations of workers in the college’s regional industries
- Summary Findings — A summing up of the main findings of the report, with suggestions for curriculum areas the college might consider increasing or decreasing to better align with the labour market
Solution # 3 – Analyst
For colleges requiring a quick solution to the area review recommendations, the consulting pieces may well prove to be ideal. However, the data used to create both pieces of consulting (apart from course completion data supplied by the colleges itself) is all derived from our highly accessible and intuitive online tool, Analyst. So for colleges that are looking beyond the immediate needs of complying with the steering group’s recommendations, Analyst provides a longer term solution to the ongoing issues of understanding local labour market trends and ensuring curriculum alignment.
Designed for ease of use, Analyst can help you get a real understanding of the structural trends and future direction of your local economy, right the way down to the most specific industry (SIC 4) and occupation levels (SOC 4), all at the touch of a button. In addition, the tool also houses Curriculum Planner, a function which enables a college to upload its courses into the system, and to quickly pull off the following reports:
- A detailed review of a course area or collection of course areas
- A summary overview of all course areas, completion numbers and key employment trends
In other words, Curriculum Planner enables colleges to view the relationship between course completion volumes (labour market supply) and local employment trends for associated occupations (labour market demand), and so identify which courses are currently oversupplying the labour market, and which areas of high labour market demand are currently not being met. This knowledge can then be fed back into the curriculum planning process to ensure true responsiveness to the needs of the local economy.
Solution # 4 – Economic Impact Study
As we said in Part 1, the end of the area review process could well be a good place for colleges to draw a line in the sand and to take stock of where they are in terms of meeting local needs and the impact they have on a variety of stakeholders. This is especially true in the case of newly merged colleges, where a “value statement” would be a great way of showcasing the combined impact of the merging institutions, and also act as a benchmark from which future progress can be measured. This is where our Economic Impact Study (EIS) might prove to be an ideal solution.
Unlike many impact studies, our EIS does not simply measure the impact of staff and student spending — though it does do that — but also addresses the longer term issue of how good an investment the college is for various stakeholders. So the study contains figures quantifying benefits to learners from higher lifetime earnings; benefits to society from avoided social costs; benefits to taxpayers from an expanded tax base; benefits to local businesses from increased consumer spending; and benefits to local employers from a more productive local workforce.
Of particular interest to merging colleges that want to start with a “value statement” is the figure for Added Workforce Skills. This is a calculation of the economic contribution made by a college’s students who find employment in the area after leaving, and so represents the increased economic growth that past and present learning at the institution is producing each year. As a figure to announce the value that the merging colleges already bring to their local community, and as a way to measure progress in the future, this figure is of massive value.
Although these solutions can all be bought individually, we have brought them together into two packages, one designed for a single institution undergoing “significant rationalisation” and another designed for colleges that are undergoing merger or collaboration. For details of these packages, and how you can use the transition grants to take advantage of these offers, contact Doug Heckman at firstname.lastname@example.org