Having first identified local skills demand, in order to determine how well its curriculum is aligned a college will need to map its courses to that demand. However, before this can be done, there is a more general question that needs to be answered. Given that occupations are defined by the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) categories, and courses are defined by Sector Subject Area (SSA), how can we actually go about mapping courses to their corresponding occupations?
Answering this question would be a huge task for a college to undertake, consuming a vast amount of time, effort and resources. However, the good news is that Emsi has already completed this mapping, which means that you don’t have to. Here’s a brief explanation of our methodology.
Firstly, using micro data from the Labour Force Survey, we have developed a profile of the qualification attainment of current workers for all occupations. What this data describes is the percentage of workers within the SOC unit group with qualifications below Level 2, at Level 2 or 3, at Level 4 or 5, or at Level 6 and above. Secondly, we have then broken down annual openings for each SOC unit group into those relevant to particular qualification levels.
What we end up with is a proprietary version of the SSA titles (SSA3) that sits below the official SSA2 tier. This can then be mapped to SOCs, and assigned courses into one of these groups based on its content.
To give an example, within the Retail Management SSA3 there are three relevant occupations: Managers and directors in retail and wholesale; Sales administrators; and Sales and retail assistants. Using our methodology, we can establish what percentage of them equates to the various education levels, and then weight them according to the number of openings available to each different occupation. What we end up with is an overall weighted average for the percentage of openings available within each qualification, as the following table shows:
Of course, most courses and qualifications are designed to give learners a broad base of skills that will equip them for a range of career pathways. This means that many occupations can be linked with more than one SSA, which presents the potential for double or multiple counting of job openings. For example, although Managers and directors in retail and wholesale maps to Retail management (as seen in the table above), it also maps to another four different subject areas: Retail operations, Wholesale operations, Management, and Marketing and sales. If we were to map the openings for retail managers to all five relevant subject areas, what we’d end up doing is counting those job openings five times.
To avoid that, what we do is to identify the proportion of demand relevant to each course area. This both reflects the messy reality of the labour market, and also allows for a traceable flow from course to occupation, which in turn allows us to conduct a gap analysis in terms of completion data.
If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you better align your curriculum with local demand, contact us now.