Labour market information is a goldmine for the education sector. With the labour market changing quickly and industries and occupations shifting to adapt to new technologies and market needs, it has never been more pressing to adjust your courses and approaches to what employers are looking for.
But with the sheer amount of data available, understanding and utilising it across your university can quickly become overwhelming. There is a lot of data to put together and analyse, and a myriad of applications for labour market data go much further than an annual curriculum review. In this blog, we broke down how to use labour market data into seven different applications, giving you a (hopefully) clearer view of your current gaps and opportunities.
An overview of Labour Market Information
Labour Market Information includes workforce data and trends, such as industry, occupation, and skills, and even more detailed information on job titles, employers, salaries, and educational requirements. Naturally, different data categories fit different use cases.
While traditional market data provided by governmental organisations may suffice in some instances, a high level of granularity enables you to have much deeper visibility into the particularities of your labour market. Our team recently updated the Lightcast Occupation Taxonomony to include specialised occupations - giving you even more detail into the exact skills each career requires.
The seven use cases for LMI in universities
1. Strategic planning
Understand employer needs by analysing job postings and skills data - what occupations are the most in-demand? And what skills do employers want for that occupation? Then, you can compare the most in-demand skills per occupation with the courses you offer and review your programme portfolio based on your findings - amend modules to match market needs and boost your students’ opportunities for success.
It’s worth diving even deeper to understand roles within each occupation and their required specialised skills. For instance, software development is too broad a category to map out its in-demand skills, as you would often find many job titles specific to a particular software. Think of an Android Developer and an iOS Developer, for instance. While still in the same occupation category, they require a different skill set for each platform.
You can also use job postings and skills data for designing new courses. Verify the demand for the occupations your new course targets in the labour market to understand its viability from an outcomes perspective. What are your students’ chances of having a successful career in that area? And it is becoming more popular or dying out? It's critical that your new course is geared to meeting regional or even national employment needs, not only to improve your students’ career prospects but to facilitate marketing efforts - which leads us to the following use case.
2. Marketing and market insight
When searching for universities and courses, learners are not just considering what they are excited to learn about - they are planning ahead and thinking about their professional future. One easy way to show them that your course is the best for them is to demonstrate that not only is it a course employers are likely to be looking for, but your university equips students with the exact skills employers seek.
Labour market data can also be used to position your courses in a way that matches the terminology employers use, ensuring a consolidated understanding of the course, modules, and skills across the university and externally. For instance, a course page may describe the learning process and academic themes, but employers will generally look for specific competencies or skills when they recruit. It’s essential to articulate the relevance of a course to potential career outcomes by being particular and up-to-date in what it delivers to students and why it’s valuable.
Lastly, labour market data can be used in marketing campaigns to market your courses to prospective students, develop/maintain brand awareness, and boost your presence among employers, partners, and other stakeholders. Evidence of alignment of your offer to the labour market can be used to show the quality of your university and engage your audience.
3. Academic research
If you want to dive into workforce trends and explore raw labour market data, the good news is that you absolutely can. The biggest problem is that labour market statistics that are publicly released by government bodies often suffer from considerable lag.
For academic researchers to thoroughly research a given workforce topic, they need reliable data that is updated frequently and reflects market trends. Lightcast complements data sources such as the Business Register Engagement Survey (BRES) industry data and the Annual Population Survey (APS) occupations data by giving you almost real-time data of a much larger sample size. We analyse millions of job postings daily, collected from tens of thousands of online sources, including company websites, government websites, and jobs boards.
Our data team ensures that our data is as accurate and representative as possible. Regardless of your labour market research topic - salary trends for engineers in the US, the growth of the tourism sector in Spain, and how environmental policies affect jobs in the UK - Lightcast data can help.
4. Careers and Employability
Help students navigate their career pathways by giving them a clear picture of the labour market. Students may be blindly navigating this complex period of their lives, not knowing what employers are looking for, how to best position themselves and showcase their skills, and how to approach getting their foot in the door. It is a rather conflicting and complex process that universities engage with through their career services.
You can use labour market data to show students, for instance, the top employers for their courses, where they are based, how often they hire, and the required skills. Even a few simple data points can go a long way in guiding students on their career journeys. Within careers and employability, you can use this data to create and supplement the materials, events and support you already provide.
Have a look at how UCAS leverages Lightcast data to support prospective students in identifying courses that can help them navigate their way to their career goals, or check out the case study below.
Using Career Coach to Help Students Navigate Career Pathways
5. Business engagement
Another way of leveraging labour market data is to take insights about an industry, occupation, or skill, do some benchmarking work, and engage directly with businesses to work with them. Major global corporations use Lightcast data to inform workforce planning and implement a skills-based management approach. Rather than approaching them as yet another education provider, show your expertise in their sector by sharing your understanding of Lightcast data to engage them.
6. International activities
Universities depend on their international students. There needs to be more than just looking at national labour market information to create, review, and market courses that match employer need worldwide.
Exploring workforce data across countries can be particularly helpful when developing online courses. You can also use labour market data to see skills demands in different parts of the world and identify global companies with particular skills needs.
7. Human resources
Locating talent from other sectors and attracting them to your institution can be challenging. Lightcast data allows HR teams to identify sources of talent for roles right across the organisation. Once identified, an HR team needs to be able to attract those people to the institution, and they need labour market to do so. University HR departments can use Lightcast data to benchmark pay in different sectors to inform their talent strategy and make cross-sector hires, even justifying market salary supplements for those highly specialised or hard-to-fill roles.
Making the most of LMI data for your university
Now that we have taken you through all of these use cases - you are hopefully excited about the opportunities labour market data can bring to your institution. It’s always easier said than done, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done - just look at how the University of Huddersfield is using our data seamlessly across all of its departments, informing new strategic decisions, building stronger provision, and enabling its students to achieve a fulfilling career after graduation.
If you want to discuss your labour market challenges with our team, contact us via the form below. We would love to help you solve your labour market problems and unlock new opportunities.