• Chris Webb

Why labour market intelligence matters to businesses

What is the Labour Market? It is a term that comes up regularly in a variety of places, including the mainstream media (although often more commonly referred to as ‘the jobs market’), government publications and when speaking to careers professionals, but many people find it understandably tricky to nail down what it really means.

While the Oxford English Dictionary definition of what the Labour Market is looking fairly simple on face value (the availability of employment and labour, in terms of supply and demand e.g. the number of jobs available vs the number of people who want a job), the reality is more complex than a straightforward numbers game. After all, setting up a business to provide jobs requires following rules set by the government (politics playing its part) and individuals looking for a job have many factors to consider, including their education, geographical location and current challenges like Covid-19.

This is where LMI comes in – LMI stands for both Labour Market Information (data gathered from a variety of official and informal sources that gives us a clearer idea of what is happening in terms of employment in a particular area) and Labour Market Intelligence (the interpretation of this data to draw conclusions about current and future trends) and, along with occupational data (e.g. the qualifications/skills individuals need to get into particular jobs, the average salary or other information someone might find on a job profile from the National Careers Service or Prospects websites, for example), it helps us build up a picture of what is happening around us in terms of the world of work. LMI can take many forms, from ‘Hard LMI’ such as live jobs information taken from jobs search engines like Adzuna and Indeed or surveys of what skills businesses are looking for from organisations like the Institute of Student Employers, to ‘Soft LMI’ such as reports from local newspapers that provide insights into local businesses or connecting with someone on LinkedIn who does a particular job role to get some inside information about what work is like in their industry.

All this knowledge can be understandably useful for jobseekers looking to better understand what opportunities exist in their chosen industry or geographical region but how can businesses leverage LMI to help support their needs in areas like business development or staff recruitment? The following are useful starting points:

  • Utilise employment research, such as these insights from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG to better understand supply and demand issues in the jobs market in different parts of the UK and how these might impact your business.

  • Use insights (both qualitative and quantitative) from organisations like the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) who work directly with entry-level talent, to help inform your recruitment and staff development strategy – the recently published Complete Guide to Student Recruitment and Development is a good place to start!

  • Check out high-quality data analysis and insights from organisations like Emsi to keep up-to-date with developing industries in the UK that might influence the work your business does or provide opportunities to develop your business, such as the Green Jobs agenda.

  • Get a better idea of what might be attractive to your prospective future employees by reading reports from organisations with their ear to the ground, such as Youth Employment UK, who publish regular research into the employment landscape for 16-24 year-olds, including their annual Youth Voice Census and are also involved with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Employment.

  • Make links with your Local Enterprise Partnership / Business Growth Hub – they can provide you with useful intel on what is happening in the labour market on a regional level, signpost you to resources that can help you grow/develop your business and allow you to work with schools to inspire young people and generate greater interest in your industry.

  • Take advantage of the knowledge and expertise available from your local colleges and universities to develop your business and better understand the benefits of working with graduates – schemes like Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) can help your business enhance competitiveness and productivity through better use of technology and the knowledge and skills of the UK research community and university employer engagement and careers teams are excellent resources for connecting with graduate talent on a national or regional level, for example via innovative graduate recruitment schemes like RISE in the Sheffield City Region.

Careers professionals are always looking to help connect talented and enthusiastic individuals of all ages with employers, so if you’ve found the information above useful, further advice and support for businesses can be found via organisations like the Career Development Institute, AGCAS, Institute of Student Employers, the Careers and Enterprise Company and National Careers Week.

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