The UK labour market is undergoing a skills transformation. Various UK government initiatives have been launched to boost skills so that learners can meet the needs of their local and national employers. The journey to closing existing skills gaps may be long and strenuous. Still, the starting point is clear: education providers are the first to step in, teaching their learners the skills employers need to effectively meet local labour market demands.
In 2021, the UK government published its “Skills for Jobs” whitepaper, detailing proposed reforms to the post-16 technical education system so that UK citizens can develop their skills and have fruitful careers, all while meeting employer needs. The Department for Education (DfE) launched Local Skills Improvement Plans as part of this broader initiative. With that came another set of responsibilities and goals for further education providers and governmental organisations.
Funding and support are available, but they come with a caveat: Further Education providers need to prove that their institution has a clear plan for adapting its curriculum to meet local needs. In this article, we explore LSIPs and how Lightcast can help you meet your LSIP goals.
What are Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs)?
Whether you’re a Further Education provider or governmental organisation, LSIPs are likely no news to you. These Local Skills Improvement Plans provide a detailed description of what needs to be done to close skills gaps and drive change in each UK region. This includes guidance on how key stakeholders can work together to ensure alignment between skills being taught and skills companies seek.
LSIPs apply to all Further Education (FE) colleges, sixth-form colleges, Independent Training Providers (ITPs), Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that deliver English-funded post-16 technical education and training, and institutions designated under S28 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.
To help put LSIPs into action, the DfE designated employer representative bodies (ERBs) to manage the development of LSIPs in the 38 UK regions. ERBs work closely with employers and education providers and regularly review the implementation of LSIPs in each area. They also serve as the go-to person for support along the journey.
The role of labour market data in LSIPs
To meet local demand, you need to start by understanding them. What industries are growing in your area? What companies are most actively recruiting, and what kind of jobs are they advertising for? Going even deeper, what skills do these job profiles require? Only by having a solid overview of current and future trends can you then look within and analyse whether you are meeting local needs, identify areas of improvement, and make a plan of action.
This applies directly to education providers, who are in the frontline of these changes, reviewing their curriculum, launching relevant courses, and adapting its equipment and facilities to meet LSIPs goals. But labour market data is equally beneficial to government organisations such as Chambers of Commerce and councils, who need to make informed decisions on where to allocate LSIF funding to, and verify the quality of each bid.
How Lightcast can help you achieve your LSIP goals
Lightcast can provide enriched regional labour market data, including current skills, occupational, and Sector Subject Area (SSA) trends, projected job trends for the next five years, and highly granular data such as median wages and job requirements.
Some of the critical insights you can delve into with our data include:
Labour supply and demand: comparing the skills students possess versus the skills employers request in their job postings to identify under and over-supply.
Top recruiters in your region across any industry or occupation.
Emerging occupations and their skills and education requirements.
Emerging skills, including specialised, common, and digital, and how these are evolving.
Local strengths and opportunities: determining local employment concentration in various industries and plotting it against projected national change to identify areas of strength, opportunity, and risk.
And you don’t have to go on this journey alone, either. Lightcast can give you the labour market data you need and analyse it to determine your area's latest labour market trends and its strengths and weaknesses.
You can then adapt your strategy to meet LSIP goals accordingly, with the confidence that your decisions are evidence-based and will meet local needs. Educational providers avoid any guesswork related to what new initiatives to implement or what new skills to teach, while governmental organisations can ensure they make the best use of the funding available.
Lightcast has been working with the Heart of Worcestershire College to deliver labour market data that supports local employers in identifying skills needs, helping to close regional skills gaps and meet LSIP goals:
"The responses from employers in Worcestershire is typical of many areas of the country. SMEs in particular, would like to develop their future skills and workforce plans but don’t always have the time and don’t always know where to start. The Heart of Worcestershire College has therefore commissioned Lightcast to produce data for us, which will be presented to local employers to demonstrate what their sectors will look like in 5 years. The College will then support leaders and managers in priority sectors to help them prepare for emerging and future business opportunities and identify the skills they will need to succeed,” stated Michelle Dowse, Principal and CEO of the Heart of Worcestershire College.
The new Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF)
The LSIF, or Local Skills Improvement Fund, is available to all further education providers so they can adapt promptly and successfully to the needs of their LSIP. It can be used to invest in new equipment and facilities, deliver new courses and curriculum to fill in existing gaps and support the college leadership in creating a long-term skills-based approach to teaching.
The funding is available across two financial years: £80 million in 2023 and 2024 and £85 million in 2024 to 2025. The first stage closed in June, and the second stage will close on the 15th of September this year. If you’re looking to apply for funding next year, you can find further guidance on the application process on the UK government website. Our data can also help education providers win these funding bids, by providing a solid evidence-base on the local skills gaps and employer needs that they hope to fill.
Get in touch
Lightcast has partnered with governmental institutions and Further Education providers nationwide, helping them meet local demand and close regional skills gaps. If you have any question or challenge you would like to discuss with our team, drop us a line below.
Equally, if you’re looking to apply for LSIF funding in 2024/2025, Lightcast data can help you prove that your LSIP plan meets the needs of your labour market. This evidence can strengthen your bid and improve the likelihood of success in your application. Contact our team to know more.