Learning about Careers: Open data and Labour Market Intelligence
By Graham Attwell and Dr Deirdre Hughes (published November 2018)
This article from Attwell and Hughes examines how labour market intelligence and information can be used in the current digital age to better understand the UK labour market. Labour market information (LMI) includes any quantitative or qualitative information on the labour market that can assist labour market agents in making informed plans, choices and decisions related to career planning, education, policy or job searching and hiring. The data is used by but not limited to careers counsellors, education providers, researchers and policy makers looking to understand the workings of the labour market and the factors that influence it. This article uses a case study of the LMI for All project to examine the feasibility of designing and developing systems that can disseminate LMI, as well as to highlight six emerging issues that need to be addressed for LMI to be applied effectively. LMI for All is an online data portal developed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills that collates information from existing national sources of LMI which helps to inform career choices. The open data is freely accessible but is intended to be developed by application developers such as icould, KareerHub and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to name a few.
Individuals making decisions about their own careers and aspirations are framed in part by their understanding of structures such as the labour market. The expansion of new technologies and growing access to open data sources raises several concerns regarding how LMI can be best disseminated in a way that users can understand the data. A big problem can be linking labour market and educational data and ensuring that it meets the needs of its different users. It may be easier to supply younger school students with information on different possible occupations, but older students will require more focused information that effectively links labour market data (usually classified by occupations) with educational data (usually classified by subject or discipline). LMI systems are also relatively new and thus there is a general lack of research in how to use LMI in careers and employment support services. While the use of online LMI should not be a replacement for professional careers support, there is a need to extend the body of research of LMI to better understand how LMI data is being used and what the potential drawbacks are.
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