In our previous post, we demonstrated how a college can begin with its curriculum and audit it against local demand for related occupations. However, as we said in that piece, whilst this supply-driven approach provides a great starting point for curriculum alignment, it cannot ultimately produce the kind of demand-led curriculum that Ofsted is looking for.
The reason for this is that in the college’s local labour market as a whole, there are likely to be a good many occupations that are not currently served by its curriculum. To find out what these occupations are, we therefore need to begin not with curriculum, but with the entire local labour market. This way, we can then can measure the college’s current course offer against this holistic demand, in order to identify any gaps that the curriculum is not currently serving.
As with the curriculum audit, the measurements we use to conduct this “Gap Analysis” are annual openings and course completions. For instance, the following table shows a sample of nine subject areas using anonymised data from an actual analysis we carried out. As you can see, the number of course completers is subtracted from the projected annual openings over the next few years in the related occupations to identify the gap between the college’s provision and local demand:
There are a number of things to note about this table.
- The top three occupations are areas where the college already offers courses, but the data indicates that there may well be significant room to grow these to meet demand.
- The middle three occupations are related to courses that the college does not currently offer, indicating that there appears to be enough demand in the local economy for the college to explore the potential for creating new courses to meet these skills needs.
- With the bottom three occupations, these are areas where the data suggests that the college is currently oversupplying the labour market to a significant level.
Of course, the identification of gaps in the first six subject areas comes with the caveat that we are only looking at the college’s supply, and the figures do not take into account the supply from other colleges, or other sources of labour such as industry-trained pipelines and job changers from other occupational categories.
Nevertheless, the figures are significant enough to indicate that there may well be room for the college in question to grow the top three courses, to consider offering the bottom three, and to look at whether current provision in the bottom three should perhaps be reduced.
In the final step, we’ll suggest some of the practical applications that flow from good curriculum alignment. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you better align your curriculum with local demand, contact us now.