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Chris Targett
8 October 2016

LMI is a significant factor in the decision making process within careers work. We already have a certain amount of LMI at our finger tips, with various sources informing us whether an occupation is in decline or growth. Choose your website of preference and we frequently see a line graph detailing which jobs will rise or decline over the next five years, in the thousands or tens of thousands. This information is there for our clients to use but how user friendly is it? Other than a superficial overview of whether the occupation is in growth or not, it doesn’t give us much more to go on. There is a point when figures at this scale become nearly meaningless, they are just big numbers.

So what would be the ideal? What would an LMI tool of the future look like?

Knowing how much work is potentially available is only one part of the equation. There are three further elements needed for an individual to make an informed choice or take an estimate of risk. We need to know what the variations of decline or growth are in the immediate area, by postcode not just across the broad area of South East or West of England. Individuals need tools that give them an insight into their immediate area and the control to alter and adjust their research by postcode and search radius, in the same way the area prospectus (UCAS Progress) allows them to vary the search parameters when they search for post sixteen courses; surely the next generation of career tools should include this level of function?

Within this, clients also need to be able to search and compare by estimated vacancies, and be able to see if the jobs in their town are mainly on an upward or downward trend for the type of work they are interested in. Other useful information that could be included is whether this is due to staff retiring in their desired sector or industry growth, as well as knowing if the work is zero hours, temping, full or part time. These are key decision making factors, having a huge impact on the life that an individual could live. It is data which is crucial for young people in education making decisions and also for adults looking to retrain or transfer their skills to a related sector in the town where they have chosen to build their lives. For example, an individual interested in construction may wish to see if there is more full time work available as a Plasterer or Carpenter, within a fifty mile radius of their home, as opposed to knowing the generic trend for construction as an industry from here to Hampshire.

Our tool must also consider the variation of competition, on average how many other people are applying for a particular type of work in a given town and how many people in total are applying, including individuals outside the immediate area (inwards migration from elsewhere in the country). To make a full assessment of risk, we need to know how many applications there are for any given type of role and as an addition, know how many roles there are estimated to be vacancies for year on year. We know this anecdotally from our own jobs, whether our managers receive applications in the tens or hundreds for a single position.

To add the final variation to the equation we must consider time. This data needs to be updated constantly, not every few years but as a live feed providing adjustments to the results as the information comes in; this ensures that our LMI has validity and is as current as can be. In summary our clients need to know an estimate of:

How much work (including numbers of vacancies) is there estimated to be in sector X in radius Y (adjustable) over the next five years + How many applications per vacancy (competition) are there estimated to be in the work of sector X = Estimate of risk.

Our equation can also be inverted and used in a different way. If built into a career tool we could search nationwide for the best area to live in if you wish to do a certain job. We would know the averages of where the work is and what the chances are like of you getting the work. This is of course all a dream at the moment but I look forward to a time when it isn’t just a dream and any individual planning their career has access to the full picture of the labour market. Until then we only have the illusion of an informed choice, as what we currently have access to, is only a small piece of a much bigger puzzle. I look forward to a future when we have access to the depth as well as the breadth of LMI.

Written by: Chris Targett

This article was first published on the CXK Blog on Wednesday 13th July 2016

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