In the 2018 joint report from Emsi and City & Guilds – People Power: Does the UK economy have the skilled people it needs for the future? – 47% of the employers surveyed said they believed that the issue that is most likely to affect their productivity over the next three to five years is the struggle to recruit skilled workers (47%). When asked what needs to be done to fix these skills gaps, 45% of those surveyed said that educational institutions need to be better aligned to the needs of business.
One college that is keenly aware of both the skills shortages and the need to become better aligned to labour market demand is Walsall College. According to the Labour Force Survey, the situation in the College region may well be even more acute than for the rest of the country, with 66% of employers in the Black Country reporting skills shortages, most of which are in technical, practical, and skilled trades occupations.
Labour Market Analysis Report
One of the ways the College is attempting to rise to this challenge is by gaining more insight on regional employer needs. To help them achieve this goal, the College commissioned a Labour Market Analysis from Emsi. The report, which covers the Birmingham and Walsall Local Authorities, was very much seen as a step-change in the College’s use of Labour Market Insight (LMI), helping to improve the selection and design of its curriculum to meet the needs of the local economy. It was also hoped the analysis would help achieve one of the College’s core objectives, which is to play a vital role in developing the knowledge and skills of people to become socially and economically active individuals.
The final report was divided into the following three sections:
Economic Overview — Looking at the industry structure in both areas, identifying both the niche industries and those which are driving growth.
Workforce Analysis — Including a look at qualification attainment, demographic change, growth occupations and key skills
Conclusion — Setting out the most salient points, along with a number of recommendations for the College to take away for further consideration
Engaging With Employers
As well as being used to shape its curriculum, the Labour Market Analysis has also been used by the College as a way of engaging with local employers. Shortly after the report was completed, the College held a Skills Summit at its Business and Sports Hub, to which a number of employers in the region were invited.
Billed as an opportunity for local businesses to hear from other employers who have successfully identified and mitigated skills gaps in their businesses, and also a chance to hear how other organisations are using the apprenticeship levy, the event included an expert panel of apprentice recruitment professionals from local organisations that have seen significant business growth through apprenticeships. The aim of the panel discussion was for local businesses to network and share their experiences of where skills gaps have been particularly acute for them.
The findings of the Labour Market Analysis were presented to those gathered, including the following conclusions:
• Both regions have strong demographics, but Birmingham has the higher qualified workforce
• Several niche manufacturing industries are highly concentrated in both regions
• Most future growth in jobs is expected to be in industries that have driven growth in the past and are existing large employers
Using LMI to fulfill the College’s Mission
The Labour Market Analysis has given the College a great base with which to address the skills shortages mentioned by employers in the region. Armed with insight on local employer demand, not only can the College begin to align its curriculum to meet those needs, but as the Skills Summit shows, they now have the evidence to be able to engage effectively with local employers about the skills shortages they are experiencing. As Russell Williams, the College’s Marketing Communications Manager commented:
“As a College, we are passionate about giving our learners the skills that will help them and the businesses they work for achieve success. By identifying the skills needs in our region, Emsi’s Labour Market Analysis is playing a big part in helping us fulfil this mission by giving us the insight to shape a more effective curriculum, and to engage at a deeper level with local employers.”
You can download a PDF of this case study here. If you would like to know more about how our insight can help you shape a more effective curriculum and really drive engagement with employers, get in touch.