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A range of LMI perspectives

An employer's view

A manager at Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for the creative industries

LMI is being provided by industries to support practitioners, employees, representatives of working people and students. More developed Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) produce a vast amount of LMI, whilst those that are less developed are not able to produce such data regularly. At present Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) provision by SSCs is inconsistent, with some SSCs having dedicated teams and others with a few employees who are partly responsible for IAG.

Skillset is the Sector Skills Council for the creative industries. Jointly funded by those industries and the Government, to make sure that the UK audio visual industries have the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time, to ensure competitiveness.

The LMI produced by Skillset includes an annual census of the workforce and 400 plus job profiles which are available online. Further LMI produced by SSCs include information on skill gaps and shortages and data on the different entry routes into the sector. However, it is recognised that some of the LMI produced by SSCs is not digestible. It is the aim of SSCs to use the National Guidance Research Forum (NGRF) website to present distilled and edited sector information which links to the original sources so that users get more detailed sector information if required.

Although there is still some uncertainty in the SSCs about what LMI practitioners want, practitioners seem content with what is being provided. Currently, there is a concern that some duplication of the sector information is being produced by other agencies which is not up-to-date with current industry changes. The LMI produced by Skillset is aimed at all in the industry plus the potential workforce, but recognises that it is weak in dealing with information for young people. However, there is a lot of information for those wishing to enter the industry or change careers in order to work in the industry.

A guidance manager's perspective

A guidance manager from Chester University College

The use of LMI in guidance is essential in that it can: improve employability (including help with job search skills); raise business awareness; provide workplace learning; and alleviate concerns of both students and their parents about what graduates will do after their degree. In practice this means that:

Practitioners need:

  • access to high quality, up-to-date LMI for clients;
  • knowledge to deal with queries and concerns of both students and their parents;
  • skill to mediate LMI appropriately and effectively;
  • to encourage clients to go directly to the original source of LMI whether it is a website, an individual or an event.

One useful method being used at Chester University College involves inviting employers in to talk to students in particular departments. This brings employers and students into direct contact with one another, thereby students find out about the graduate labour market, and employers gain an understanding of new graduates.

A trainer's view

A senior lecturer on a guidance course at the University of East London

The use of LMI in guidance is a key element of the Qualification in Careers Guidance at the University of East London. The training helps students develop the skill to “…record, research, interpret and evaluate information in a range of media, and enable clients and others to act upon appropriate information in the context of local and national opportunity structures…”. The key learning objectives include being able to:

  • identify information needs accurately;
  • interpret information and tailor it to the needs of the client;
  • critical evaluate the range, sources and types of information available; and
  • research, access and obtain information.

The LMI used has to be up-to-date and relevant. Where possible the original source of the data should be accessed. Visits to employers are a central element of training and highly valued.

Commonly it is found that whilst students are able to amass vast quantities of data, the challenge is to assess and interpret it for clients. The LMI section of the NGRF website has been used extensively by students, and has proved invaluable in helping to develop these skills.

A researcher's perspective

A researcher’s view at the Warwick Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick

Four key issues emerge when when researching LMI:

  • Sources: LMI is produced by different organisations. Consequently there are often inconsistencies in the type of information collected (e.g. dimensions of equal opportunities).
  • Presentation: practitioners work with diverse client groups with needs that vary according to age, ability and stage of career. This is further complicated by the different approaches to information giving, with the evidence-base regarding the 'best method' being inconclusive.
  • Impartiality: the impartiality of LMI is sometimes questionable, since it is collected by various stake holders for different purposes. Facts partly determine and partly constrain the interpretation that can be placed on them. (e.g. the same facts could be used to demonstrate that the proportion of women recruited into a non-traditional occupational area has increased and that women are seriously under-represented in the same non-traditional occupational area.
  • Local labour market information: this is the type of LMI cited as most useful by practitioners yet is the most difficult to collect, maintain and update.