“To change lives through learning”. This is the vision of the education awarding body, Open Awards, whose work includes providing qualifications and units across a range of sectors, as well as supporting the delivery of traineeships and apprenticeships in Further Education, schools, sixth-form colleges, prisons, private training providers and third sector organisations.
As part of their strategy to fulfil the vision, the group recently announced that they are partnering with Emsi to access Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) in order to “help create the qualifications that our centres and the British economy really need.” To someone unfamiliar with the many applications and uses of LMI, this may well beg the question, “how can data help an awarding body change lives through learning?”
Valid Qualifications Based on Clear Demand
The answer is to be found in the detail of the data. Users of Emsi’s data tool, Analyst, have instant access to a wealth of LMI, from the broadest geographic levels down to the most specific, and from the most generic industry and occupation classifications (SIC and SOC 1) down to the most granular (SIC and SOC 4). This level of detail enables users to establish which sectors are likely to see growth or decline, which skills will be needed in the growth sectors, and which occupations employees from declining sectors might most easily transfer into. As the Open Awards website explains:
“Using this data we are able to create projected employment and demographic trends for sectors and specific job roles. This can be done on a national, regional or local authority level. The data is also able to tell us the types of skills that will be in demand for particular occupational areas. This is extremely important for us as an awarding organisation. It will enable us to ensure that we are creating valid qualifications where there is a clear demand for skills.”
Meeting Needs and Changing Lives
Since beginning the partnership, Open Awards’ have already used the data as part of the creation of a new Access to HE Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment. The Access to HE Diploma is a Level 3 qualification that has been specifically designed to give adult learners an alternative route to A-Levels and onto university degree courses. Until recently, Open Awards offered them in the Humanities and Health sector, but wanted to expand provision into other sectors.
However, rather than simply creating a new diploma in Construction, they first delved into the data to establish whether there was enough labour market demand to warrant the qualification. According to Ben Rockliffe, Head of Business and Strategy, going through this exercise informed them that the demand was indeed there, and it also showed them which occupations within the sector were set to grow:
“By using Emsi data, we were able to establish that the construction industry is currently in need of more skilled workers and managers, both nationally and in the North West. We were also able to see that demand is likely to increase in the foreseeable future.”
By basing their new qualifications on industry and occupation demand, rather than relying on assumptions about what may or may not be needed, Open Awards are demonstrating a clear desire to apply a more scientific approach to establishing their new qualifications. The result is a much closer alignment with what is really needed in the economy, enabling them to meet the needs of both learners and employers, and so move a step closer to fulfilling their vision of “changing lives through learning”.
Whether you represent an awarding body or an education provider, we can help you better align with the economy you serve and so help you to change lives through learning. To find out how, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org