New research by the Warwick Institute for Employment Research (IER), funded by Gatsby, has examined the Labour Market Information (LMI) system in England and how it supports career guidance. It reveals a well-developed system which has strong potential, but is also challenging to navigate for young people making careers decisions and those who support them.
The report involved desk research combined with interviews with expert stakeholders and practitioners from England, the wider UK and beyond.
From May to July 2021, the research team identified nearly 120 LMI sources – national, regional, local and sectoral – an indication that the LMI system in England is well-developed. These sources were categorised in a matrix according to the types of information they contain, the currency of information, intended target audience, and other factors.
However, the LMI system as a source of support for good career guidance for young people has the potential to greatly improve. The overwhelming impression from the research is one of complexity, and expert stakeholders were not confident that the situation is currently improving.
One way the system could improve, as drawn from many stakeholder interviews, is through more reliable data at a regional or local level to support young people, in particular vacancy data. This could be from national datasets or vacancy scraping tools that produce high-quality data that is detailed enough to be reliably refined down. Alternatively this could be robust data and information generated locally from the ground up, for example, from organisations like Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). The researchers note that Careers Hubs established by the Careers & Enterprise Company – often situated within LEPs – are well situated to meet this need, and some are doing particularly well in this regard, producing online resources targeted at careers practitioners. However, LMI across the system is particularly under-developed when it comes to the careers that technical routes and qualifications can lead to.
Critically, the report proposed a unifying set of definitions, including the difference between Labour Market Information and Labour Market Intelligence, which the researchers define as LMI interpreted for a particular purpose, such as young people’s career guidance.
Labour Market Intelligence that is specific to age, education setting and location could help young people better navigate the choices they are faced with. Intermediaries such as Careers Leaders and parents can play a role in producing this intelligence, as well as identifying strong sources of information and intelligence that young people can rely on.
The report also defined the different roles played by organisations in the LMI system, for example data suppliers (which collect labour market data) and data repositories (which bring data and datasets together for users to access and interrogate). We hope this will help organisations understand where they fit in and pose questions about how the system could be easier to navigate for intermediaries and young people.
Gatsby’s next piece of work in this area will explore the perspectives of these audiences in particular. We are currently funding research with young people in schools and colleges, together with parents and careers professionals, to hear their views on LMI in career guidance, what they find useful and what would improve their experiences. Gatsby is also looking at how the occupational maps, owned by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE), can be used as a LMI resource, exploring with representatives from local areas (LEPs and Combined Authorities) how the maps can support local skills development as well as career guidance activities.
We are interested in continuing this conversation and hearing from others about their ideas for improving the LMI system to support good career guidance. Those interested should contact Rob Cremona at email@example.com.