How well does your current curriculum align with the local labour market? Or perhaps an even more pointed question, how much is your current curriculum actually serving the needs of learners and local employers in your area? For any provider looking to help its learners achieve better employment outcomes, and send out the kind of skilled workforce that employers are looking for, these are crucial questions.
Answering them successfully requires a comparison of your current curriculum with related demand in your local economy, and to do this involves three key components. The first is the number of course completions in each subject area in a given year. Secondly, we need to then make the connection between these courses and related jobs, which requires mapping them to related Standard Occupations Classifications (SOC). And thirdly, we also need to know the number of annual openings in those associated occupations in your region.
Every provider will of course have the information available to be able to answer the first question, but what about the second and third? The good news is that Emsi has the ability to do both, having already undertaken the exercise of mapping courses to related SOC codes, and also having within our dataset the projected number of annual openings for any occupation, for any region in the country, down to local authority level.
What this means is that by starting with your curriculum, and in particular the number of course completions in a year, we can then compare this to the number of annual openings in the occupations to which those courses relate.
Let’s take an example. The chart below uses data from an anonymised region, comparing the number of course completions in five subject areas with the annual openings in associated occupations:
As you can see from the chart, these courses are currently oversupplying the labour market significantly, which means that the provider is sending out people into a workforce with skills which are not necessarily needed by employers. For instance, there are currently more than 2,500 learners qualifying as engineers each year, and yet only 637 annual openings. It hardly needs saying that this is far from ideal alignment.
We can also look at data from the same anonymised region to demonstrate the opposite problem to the one shown on the chart on page 4. Whereas the five course areas shown there were clearly oversupplying the local labour market, the graph below shows five course areas where there is significant undersupply – that is, where the number of annual openings in the region is high, but the number of course completions in related subjects is very low by comparison:
Although the data above shows comparisons between existing courses and labour market demand, using the same methodology it is possible to go beyond just looking at current curriculum, and to also begin looking at other potential course areas. For instance, the chart below shows ten course areas in the anonymised region, which the provider does not currently cater for, but where employer demand is high. This suggests that there may well be scope to introduce new courses in these areas:
What we have shown in this Step is how you can identify areas of alignment and misalignment in your curriculum in general. In Step 2, we’ll show you how you can hone in on individual courses to identify more key areas of insight.