Award-Winning Education With Lightcast Data

How the Open University of Catalonia’s LMI4E Dashboard is Boosting the Quality of its Courses and Improving Graduate Employability

Published on May 15, 2024

Written by Mariana Marques

Open University of Catalonia

Founded in 1995 as the first university with an online campus, the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) offers online courses to over 87,150 students. Aside from its Bachelors' and Masters’ courses, it also offers a doctoral programme in digital subjects such as e-law and network society. Courses are taught in Catalan, Spanish, and English, and the University has support centres across Spain, as well as Andorra, Colombia, and Mexico. 

The challenge: what skills do employers need?

UOC wanted to align its provision with the evolving demands of the labour market in order to improve student employability. As a first step, this meant understanding what professional skills employers were looking for. Whilst having raw skills data was useful, UOC also needed a way to effectively communicate this information to internal stakeholders, particularly those responsible for designing and updating their university programmes. 

LMI4E: Empowering Teachers to Empower Students

To address this challenge, UOC partnered with Lightcast in 2022 to develop the Labour Market Intelligence for Educators (LMI4E) project. Powered by Lightcast, LMI4E is a tool that enables teachers to use job postings data to track skills demand for occupations associated with the University’s programmes. Teachers can then identify skills gaps in their courses, and update their curriculum to meet current labour market demands. 

Hosted in PowerBI, the tool is interactive and easy to use, so teachers at UOC can easily find the job posting data that is relevant to their courses. Not only can they use this data to close skills gaps, they can also use it to spot opportunities for new programmes, short courses, and micro-credentials that are aligned with labour market needs.

The Implementation Process

Implementing LMI4E required extensive collaboration with stakeholders, working closely with Programme Directors to understand the occupations and skills associated with specific programmes, and supporting colleagues to understand Lightcast’s vacancy data, the ESCO classification of occupations and skills, and the new university-wide capabilities they provide. Through this process, academic colleagues were also compelled to think about education in terms of skills acquisition. 

Following the initial consultation with colleagues, the team developed the tool using PowerBI. Within this platform, the data is visualised and shared with faculty colleagues. An example of the tool can be found below. By applying different data filters, users can access quick insights into the skills demand of vacancies associated with each programme. Those skills identified as being requested in the labour market but missing in the associated programme are marked using red flags (hard skills) and exclamation marks (soft skills). Therefore, programme directors and teachers can easily identify skills gaps in their syllabi, or design new educational offers to keep updated with the latest labour market trends.

Open University of Catalonia Dashboard

The UOC team adopted a multi-faceted approach to engage colleagues with the tool and encourage institutional buy-in. This approach involved hosting interactive sessions with teachers, producing step-by-step tutorials, and creating guidance materials. However, the encouragement UOC got from its senior leadership has been invaluable in implementing LMI4E effectively. 

An Award-Winning Project

Thankfully, this long process yielded brilliant outcomes. UOC is now able to review and tailor their portfolio in response to rapidly changing labour market demand, effectively boosting the quality of its courses and improving employability outcomes for its graduates.  

The project has also received a lot of positive feedback, with both internal and external stakeholders across Europe recognising the significant impact of this tool. In further acknowledgment of its value, the project was recognised by the 2023 Annual Management Awards: Excellence and AI, winning an award in the Universities category. 

Feedback from colleagues across institutions has been overwhelmingly positive, with many commenting that a similar development has never been seen before. With no other providers using labour market insights in this way, UOC is leading the way. 

Federico Christmann, Data Analyst, UOC

What’s next for UOC?

Despite the clear impact LMI4E has had already across the University, the tool is still in development, and the UOC team is continuing to develop reports to further improve employability prospects for students and lifelong learners.  

There are also longer term plans to scale the LMI4E development to other universities and institutions, supporting other education providers to implement labour market alignment initiatives. Not only will this tool assist others with programme development and curriculum design, it can also be used to support marketing and student recruitment activities, providing institutions with the ability to demonstrate to prospective students that they are aligning their educational offer to labour market needs. 

If you’re interested in seeing how Lightcast can be used to review and update your course portfolio, empower your teachers, and boost your students’ employability, contact our team below.

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