John Gray is Director of Further Education for Emsi

How important is Labour Market Insight in developing a curriculum that meets Ofsted's requirements?

I think it's absolutely critical and I think it's become even more important in the minds of some senior managers since the introduction of the new Ofsted framework. Without using labour market data, talking to employers, getting a really good understanding of local stakeholders, I think it's going to be really difficult to show the intent of the curriculum.

So I say to colleges, you need to get a really good benchmark, you need to understand where you are now and where you're moving to. By doing that, you can show the distance travelled, and you can actually use data to show that you're meeting the skills needs of the economy.

What are the most important things colleges need to consider in planning a curriculum that reflects their local and regional context?

I think there are a number of things, really. The most fundamental thing is to make sure that the curriculum is aligned with the needs of the local, regional and national economy. To do that, you've got to get a good baseline, and a good starting point.

Using labour market data as part of the planning processes is critical to getting that initial understanding of what's happening within the economy. Often from experience, what colleges will do is they will focus either quite narrowly on their very local area, or they'll look too broad a more regional area. By doing that they miss key issues and opportunities. So what we always say is to start off quite broad, and then work your way into to quite a level of detail.

So what I always say to colleges is to make sure that they're using that labour market information, that they're talking to employers, that they understand the needs of key stakeholders. Then from that, they get a really good baseline in which to move forward and start their curriculum planning.

How can Emsi data help colleges develop the kind of ambitious, intentional curriculum that Ofsted is looking for?

Emsi helps colleges with curriculum intent in a number of ways. Our data is is very sophisticated, we can drill down to very localised data on very particular industries and occupations in very specific geographic locations. But we can also take the much broader regional view, and national view.

We can make sure that colleges have a really holistic look at the skills needs of the local and broader economy. Historically, whereas Emsi data is focused on occupations, and on long term projections, we still have that data which is vital. But we're now augmenting that with really rich data on job posting analytics, so we can see real time what's happening in the local economy.

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That's critical to making sure that colleges can build in those skills needs, and knowledge needs into their curriculum. So they get a really robust data set which allows them to track progress, they can see where they started off initially, in terms of their curriculum planning journey, and how they're making those changes over time.

They'll be able to talk to Ofsted and other stakeholders about how they're reacting to that intelligence, and making changes to inform their curriculum, making sure that they're meeting the regional and local skills needs.

John Gray is Director of Further Education for Emsi, the Labour Market Insight specialists.

Emsi is running a free webinar series - Using LMI for Ambitious Curriculum Intent and Impact - which you can find out more about here.

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