From education to employment

Tracking Employer Demand for Higher and Technical Skills

The recent Post-16 White Paper – Skills for Jobs – places significant emphasis on higher technical skills (levels 4 and 5), with plans for reform, including a new approval system based on employer-led standards. As the Paper notes, whilst these skills are increasingly in-demand, this is not currently being met by sufficient supply, which is something that will stifle growth and prosperity if not addressed:

“There are currently significant skills gaps at higher technical levels. We do not have enough technicians, engineers or health and social care professionals to meet the many vital challenges we face, from building our green economy to meeting the health and care needs of our ageing population. Across a range of sectors, there is growing employer demand for the skills that higher technical education provides. Investing in these skills at both a local and a national level is critical to improving our productivity and international competitiveness.”

As well as the need to meet employer demand for these skills, the Paper goes on to note the significant earnings benefits for those who hold a level 4 or 5 qualification. Although just 4% of young people hold a qualification at these levels, compared to 33% with a degree or above, the earnings potential may well prove greater than those who hold a degree, partly because only 66% of working age graduates are in high-skilled employment:

“… recent analysis shows that technical courses can lead to better career outcomes for those who follow them, with men with a higher technical (level 4) qualification earning on average £5,100 more at age 30, and women with a higher technical (level 5) qualification earning £2,700 more at age 30, than those with a degree (level 6).”

Efforts to ensure that supply for these skills are meeting demand, will require good data to understand what it is that employers are looking for. In the charts below, we take a brief look at how this can be done, with data on jobs and skills that require these higher technical level qualifications.

The first chart looks at the Top 20 job titles requiring these qualifications, according to employer demand over the last year throughout the UK. For this, we have used our Job Posting Analytics data, which harvests data from employer job postings across the country to help us understand which positions are being sought after (the numbers at the end of each bar represents the number of unique job postings per month). There are a number of points of interest in the data:

  • The most in-demand jobs requiring higher technical qualifications are Science Teachers, Lecturers, and Nursing Home Administrators, each of which had over 3,000 unique postings in January 2021.
  • The biggest growth in demand over the last year has been for Mental Health Case Managers (118.6% growth); Home Care Social Workers (47.2%); and Rehabilitation Managers (43.5%).
  • There has been a general decline in demand for Architectural roles, with Architectural Technologists, Architects, and Architectural Technicians seeing declines in postings of 11.5%, 8.4% and 8.3% respectively.

We can also look at the actual technical skills that employers are demanding when looking to hire for jobs requiring level 4 and 5 qualifications. The chart below looks at the Top 20 in-demand skills throughout the last year, and there are a number of points to note:

  • Nursing is not only by far the biggest in-demand skill, with an average of more than 4,000 postings each month, but it has also seen growth over the period, with almost 900 more postings in January 2021 than the previous January.
  • The biggest growth in demand for skills at the higher and technical levels have been in Child Protection (64.3% growth); Risk Analysis (42.1%); and Mental Health (41.3%).
  • Dentistry, by contrast, has seen a decline in demand of 12.7%.

If you would like to find out more about employer demand for higher and technical skills in your area, contact Emsi.

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