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Labour market and skills demand horizon scanning and qualitative scenarios

The Department for Education (DfE) commissioned IER, with RAND Europe's Centre for Futures and Foresight Studies (CFFS), to undertake research to scan the horizon of the labour market over the next 15 to 20 years to identify the drivers and emerging trends to create several possible labour market scenarios and to assess the broad implications of these scenarios for the jobs, skills, and qualifications that will be needed in adult and technical education.

Building on the Working Futures 2017-2027 study, the research will take a qualitative approach using horizon scanning and futures methodologies to explore a wide range of potential drivers of change in the UK labour market; uncertainties in how these drivers of change and the market may change; and how different sectors may be impacted upon by future changes. In addition, the research will critically assess the role of quantitative techniques versus qualitative evidence. The quantitative evidence will also be used to inform the qualitative scenario development.

    The research will generate new empirical evidence addressing the following key research questions:

    • What are the global drivers and key trends of the labour market? How might these evolve over the next 15-20 years? Which of these are likely to be most important in defining the future of UK jobs and skills?
    • How do global and local trends interact in the UK labour market?
    • Given the key global and local trends, what are the different possible scenarios about how the labour market might develop over the next 15-20 years? What would have happened anyway? What is the impact on different sectors likely to be?
    • What are the implications of these scenarios for jobs, skills, and qualifications? How might the jobs, skills, and qualifications needed now change over the short term (0-5 years), medium term (5-15 years) and long term (15-20 years)?

    The results will help shape the DfE's assessment of what mix of qualifications the Department should fund to meet the demands of the future labour market. It will also help to inform what the DfE's ambitions for the future should look like for technical and adult education.

    The final report, published in May 2022, is found here.


    Project Team:

    Sally Wright (Principal Investigator)

    Terence Hogarth

    Chris Warhurst

    Project Duration:

    March 2021 - July 2021