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The Importance of Place #2: Identifying an Area’s Niche Occupations and In-Demand Jobs

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In the first part of this three-part series, @EMSI_UK looked at how data can be used to identify the industries which give areas a competitive advantage over others.

This is something that could prove crucial for education providers and economic developers seeking to drive economic recovery in their area, as it helps them get a better understanding of the kind of workforce and skills that their local business community needs.

However, we need to go further, and along with identifying an area’s niche sectors, it is equally important to be able to do this for occupations, and in this piece we’ll show you how this can be done.

As with the previous piece, all the data below is for three adjacent LEP areas: Greater Manchester, Leeds City Region and Lancashire.

Identifying Niche Occupations

We can begin by looking at the niche occupations in each area using a metric called Location Quotient (LQ), which is a measure of how concentrated an industry or occupation is in an area.

The UK as a whole is benchmarked at 1.0, so anything over about 1.2 indicates that the area has a comparative advantage over other areas.

In the chart below, we’ve identified the Top 20 occupations for each of the three areas, with LQ on the X-axis, and 2020 job numbers on the Y-axis.

In addition, we’ve also sorted the occupations into high, medium or low skilled, and you can find out a number of other metrics about each one by placing your cursor over the circles:

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Beginning with Greater Manchester, we can see that its most niche occupation is Textile Process Operatives, which ties in with the data presented in our previous piece, where we saw that Textiles and Apparel is the area’s second most niche industry cluster. But the occupation that really stands out on the chart is Call and Contact Centre Operations, which not only has a high LQ (1.73), but is also a significant employer on the region, with over 10,000 jobs.

Moving on to Leeds City Region, there are a couple of niche occupations that dominate in terms of job numbers: Packers, Bottlers, Canners and Fillers, which has an LQ of 1.69 and employs over 14,600 jobs, and Food, Drink and Tobacco Process Operatives, with an LQ of 1.39 employing around 11,000 jobs. There are also a couple of occupations tied into the region’s most niche industry cluster — Textiles and Apparel — which are Textile Process Operatives (2.45 LQ; 1,400 jobs), and Sewing machinists (2.29 LQ; 2,681 jobs), showing that this really is an important employer in the region.

Looking at Lancashire, along with noting that its most niche occupation is in the medium skilled category — Aircraft Maintenance and Related Trades (2.59 LQ), — it is interesting to see that it has more high skilled niche occupations in the Top 20 than the other two LEPs, with a particular concentration of engineering jobs. For instance, between them Production and Process Engineers (LQ 1.60) Engineering Professionals (1.48), Engineering Technicians (1.42) and Civil Engineers (1.38) employ nearly 11,000 people in the region. These occupations are clearly very important to the region, and this is something that local education providers and economic developers may want to explore further, using data to find out more specifics on the roles and the skills businesses employing these jobs are looking for.

Identifying In-Demand Jobs

We can also take a look at more recent demand for jobs in these areas, using our Job Posting Analytics data to identify the job titles that employers have been looking to hire for over the last year. The charts below show the Top 20 jobs, measured by the number of unique employer job postings between July 2020 and July 2021, and once again we have split these out into high, medium and lower skilled jobs, which you can toggle between.

There are a lot of similarities across the three regions. For example, looking at high skilled jobs, roles such as Business Development Manager, Project Managers and Quantity Surveyors have been in high demand across all three areas. Amongst medium skilled jobs, there has been strong demand across all areas for Account Assistant, Credit Controllers, and Electricians. Whilst in the lower skilled jobs, roles such as Class 1 Drivers, Cleaners and HGV Drivers (both Class 1 and 2) crop up across all three areas.

But it is where we see jobs cropping up in just one area that we really see how the data can be used to establish local demand. For instance, these are just some of the jobs that appear in the Top 20 for just one area:

  • Greater Manchester: Site Managers (high skilled); Gas Engineers (medium skilled); Sales Executives (low skilled).
  • Leeds City Region: Paraplanners (high); Legal Secretaries (medium); Kitchen Assistants (low).
  • Lancashire: Finance Managers (high); Care Workers (medium); Domestic Assistants (low).

What this shows is how important it is for those making decisions relating to the supply of a skilled workforce to identify and understand the strengths and nuances of their local economy, so that they can respond well to that demand. There is, however, another crucial element to this, which is the skills dimension. We’ll be covering this in Part 3 of this series.

Emsi Burning Glass have just released a series of free local reports looking at the Green Economy

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