In our previous piece, we demonstrated the research we have undertaken to identify all occupations in the labour market that have “apprenticeship potential”, and then went on to show how these occupations could be mapped to the national labour market to establish demand. The purpose was to demonstrate how to quickly and simply identify the industries, occupations and – by implication – the employers that could be targeted for apprenticeships, but which are not necessarily part of the traditional apprenticeship pool.
Where the insight really comes alive is when we map these apprenticeship-relevant occupations to a local or regional labour market. By doing this we can identify the local demand for apprenticeship-relevant occupations – something which has the potential to give education providers a far greater sense of direction in terms of where they should be targeting their attempts to expand their apprenticeship offer.
A Comparison of Two Areas
To move from the national to the local picture, we can look at two very different areas with very different economies. For instance, we might pick a largely rural area in the South of England – Hampshire – and compare it to a city in the North of England – Manchester. If we compare which industries in these areas have the greatest number of apprenticeship-relevant occupations, are there any differences?
The answer is a resounding yes. Although many of the same industries appear in these Top 10s, there are also a number of variations. For instance, Hampshire has significant numbers of people employed in apprenticeship-relevant occupations in the computer programming, consultancy and related activities sector. Manchester, on the other hand, has a significant number employed in the financial service activities, except insurance and pension funding sector.
It is also worth noting that whilst some of the industries on these charts are what might be seen as traditional apprenticeship sectors, there are others that are not. The numbers of apprenticeship-relevant occupations employed in them suggests that there may well be potential here for providers in these areas.
Whilst the data in these graphs shows current levels of apprenticeship-relevant occupations within the industries mentioned, it is also useful to look at the apprenticeship-relevant occupations themselves to see which are expected to grow over the next few years. The graphs below show the Top 10 in terms of expected growth between 2016-2019, firstly for Hampshire and then for Manchester:
Once again, there are a number of apprenticeship-relevant occupations that appear in the graphs for both areas, but there are also some interesting variations. For example, the Top 10 for Hampshire features marketing associate professionals; business sales executives; and financial administrative occupations n.e.c. none of which show up in the chart for Manchester. On the other hand, the Top 10 for Manchester features property, housing and estate managers; human resources and industrial relations officers; and national government administrative occupations, none of which show up in the data for Hampshire.
The need to identify new employers for apprenticeships is going to be crucial for education providers over the coming months and years. Achieving this effectively will require a new, systematic approach – one which can firstly identify occupations that aren’t traditionally associated with apprenticeships, but which have apprenticeship potential, and one which can then go on to identify which industries these occupations are in, and whether they are expected to grow over the next few years. But most crucially, for this insight to be useful it must be tied not just to the national economy, but rather to local economies, which each have their own distinctive needs. What we have shown in this and our previous piece, is that this methodical, data-driven, and above all localised approach is indeed a real possibility.
Doug Heckman, Head of Further Education for Labour Market Insight specialists, Emsi.