In the first part of this series looking at changing skills demand, we considered some of the changes in skills in the UK over the past few years, and more specifically since the beginning of the year. In this piece, we want to go beyond the national landscape, and take a look at skills at the local level.
One of the things that was clear from the previous piece is that there are a number of core skills employers seek throughout the country, for which demand has tended to remain high throughout the last few years. This includes things like Communication, Management, Customer service and Enthusiasm. If we look at the top in-demand skills at a local level, what we find is, by and large, a very similar picture to the national one.
The chart below shows this clearly. Using our Job Posting Analytics, we have identified the Top 10 skills demanded at the national level since the start of the year, comparing it to demand for the same skills in three different LEP regions. Although there are some differences — for instance, Teaching has appeared in 4.8% of job postings in the Black Country, compared to 2.2% for the UK, 1.9% in Dorset and 1.7% in Enterprise M3 — by and large there is a fairly similar pattern:
The data is not hugely helpful in terms of establishing the skills that are being demanded particular to a region’s specific needs, since the most in-demand tend to be much of a muchness with any other area of the country. What we can do, however, is look at skills through the lens of a Significance metric, which is a way of ranking skills in terms of their relative concentration in an area, compared to all areas of the country, and so is a really helpful way of understanding the skills which are niche to a particular location.
In the chart below, we have identified the Top 20 niche skills for the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA). The skills are ranked in order of their average significance over the first six months of the year (i.e. the top skill has the highest average significance ranking for the period), and we have then shown the change in job postings for each of these skills over that time. What we can see is that the skills very clearly reflect the strong concentration of education and research, biomedicine and IT sectors in the area, with the University and Science Park in Cambridge in particular. There is a very noticeable decline in job postings for almost all these skills between March and May, but there has been a slight uptick in some of them in June. For example, Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist — assessing respiratory problems in patients –, which is the area’s most niche skill, saw a decline from 193 postings which mentioned the skill in January, down to 122 in April, but back up to 169 in June:
Another way of looking at this is to chart the changing Significance ranking of skills in the area over time. The chart below shows this for CPCA, and particularly noteworthy — given the situation we’ve found ourselves in — is the increase in significance of Drug discovery, which moves from 7th place to 2nd, and Drug development, which moves from 16th to 5th:
If we look at another area of the country — Cumbria — we can see even more clearly how useful this data is. In terms of niche skills in the area, given the existence of the Sellafield nuclear power plant in the area, even before we look at the data we would no doubt expect to see some skills connected with the nuclear industry. And indeed this is the case, with the data showing some of the most “significant” skills in the area to be things like External testing, Nuclear power, Nuclear safety, Radioactive waste, and Radiation protection. If we look at the change in the Top 20 niche skills in the first six months of the year, the most noticeable features are a fairly big contraction in demand for Team oriented, but also a fairly big increase in demand for Integrated care during June:
Again, we can look at this in terms of the changing significance of these skills over time, and here we can see even more starkly how Team oriented declines, starting at the top of the chart in January, but dropping off by June, whilst Integrated care goes from being out of the Top 20 at the start of the year, to being the most niche skill in the area in June:
For education providers and economic developers in particular, this data is really useful for a couple of reasons. Not only does it get beneath the sorts of skills that are generic across all areas (Communication; Management etc) to show the more niche, unique skills in an area, but it then helps in understanding the changing demand for these skills.
In the final piece in this series, we’ll be looking at skills from a business perspective, demonstrating how our Job Postings Analytics and skills data can be used to identify changing skills demand for specific companies over time.
To find out more about how our Language of Skills, and the skills data in our Job Postings Analytics can help your organisation, get in touch.