Foresight Contributions

The Opportunity for Education and Training Providers to Drive Recovery in Their Area

Rob Slain, Director of Marketing UK, Emsi

After more than a year of extraordinary disruption, the shape of the world of work emerging from the turbulence is still far from certain. Take the hospitality industry, for instance. In Britain, an exodus of foreign workers post-Brexit is being blamed on the fact that hospitality businesses are really struggling to find workers. Yet as the Washington Post reports, the same situation is being played out across Europe and the US. It appears that the effects of the Covid crisis are playing a big part not only in the restructuring of businesses, but also in changing the attitudes of job seekers in terms of the type of work they are prepared to undertake.

For Technical and Vocational Education and Training providers (TVETs), it is both an unnerving time and also a time of exciting opportunities. Unnerving, because 18 months of uncertainty has undoubtedly left its mark, and setting out a curriculum to meet employer demand in a very changed labour market is somewhat daunting. Yet also exciting, because education and training providers really are at the forefront of driving recovery in their region. For this opportunity to be grasped, however, providers will need to be well acquainted with emerging employer demand.

We don’t have a crystal ball to forecast what things are going to look like in the coming years, but we can look at the growth in employer demand for jobs and skills over the last year, to identify emerging trends. In the charts and analysis below, we use our Job Posting Analytics data to highlight some of these, and although it is UK-specific, many of the trends will no doubt be taking place in other developed economies.

We’ve split the data into three different categories:

  • High skilled (typically graduate level and above)
  • Middle skilled (those which generally require a Level 2-3 vocational certificate)
  • Low skilled (those which usually require a Level 1-2 certificate).

High Skilled Jobs

Although most vocational training leads to jobs in low to middle skilled jobs, it is worth beginning by looking at the high skilled, as there are some particularly interesting trends that have emerged over the last year, which will inevitably effect the economy as a whole. The interactive chart below shows the Top 25 fastest growing job titles and hard skills in terms of employer job postings over the past year (note: we have only used those jobs and skills where the growth in postings exceeds 500 in the 12 month period, to avoid elevating low-volume cases).

Looking at job titles first, we can see some positions that have grown out of the Covid crisis. For example, demand for Online English Tutors has seen a rise of 542%, whilst Cybersecurity Engineers has risen by 138%, much of which has been driven by organisations needing to bolster their online presence. We can also see a number of emerging jobs connected with the Green Economy, such as Geotechnical Engineers (130% increase) and Energy Advisors (118%).

Looking at in-demand hard skills, we can really begin to see a number of growth skills coming through, which tie in with what we hear in the media and anecdotally about the future of work. For instance, the second fastest growth skill being demanded by employers is Sustainability (110%), whilst Artificial Intelligence (80%), and Automation (64%) have also seen a big jump in demand.

Middle Skilled Jobs

Looking at middle skilled jobs, there has been big growth in demand for jobs connected with hospitality, such as Wait Staff (398% increase in demand), Line Chefs (375%), and Chef Apprenticeships (285%). Much of this growth will be down to the rebound after the hospitality sector was closed for so long, but the large volume of postings for these positions may also be an indicator of what we mentioned above, namely that employers in the sector are really struggling to find staff since reopening. Another point of interesting is the growth in demand for Gas Engineers (224%) and Installation Engineers (95%). Reports in recent years have suggested that a lot of the Gas-Safe workforce is coming up to retirement age, and this increase in demand could well reflect their being a real scarcity of such people in the workforce. This is therefore something education and training providers should be looking to focus on training in the coming years, and really shows the value in interrogating the data.

As for demand for hard skills within middle skilled jobs, a lot of the skills clearly relate to some of the jobs we’ve just looked at. For instance, in the Hospitality sector, Food Safety (130%), Restaurant Operation (95%), and Food Preparation (88%), have all seen significant growth, as have skills connected with Gas and Installation Engineers, such as Boilers (109%), Pumps (101%), and Oil and Gas (97%). There are also a number of skills showing through which are either directly connected to the Covid crisis – for instance, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (86%) – or more indirectly – such as Warehousing (75%).

Low Skilled Jobs

Finally, looking at the low skilled jobs, we can again see a large number of hospitality jobs being demanded by employers, including Kitchen Team Members (420%), Baristas (269%), and Bartenders (182%), as well as a number connected with the shift to online shopping, which has seen a boom in demand for Van Drivers (115%), and HGV Drivers (95%).

There is less of an obvious trend in the skills data, although once again skills connected with hospitality are showing through, such as Food Services (179%), Restaurant Operation (124%) and Food Safety (107%).

Summary

What this brief look at employer demand data shows, is that there is significant growth in a number of different type of jobs and skills, particularly including the following:

  • Those which saw an initial collapse in demand during the Covid crisis (eg. Hospitality)
  • Those that are directly connected with the health aspects of the crisis (eg. PPE)
  • Those which have emerged more indirectly as a consequence of the crisis (eg. Online Tutors)
  • Those which are connected with emerging sectors (eg. “Green Economy” and Automation).

The emerging data should give TVETs much food for thought, not only in terms of the ability to track demand into the future, but also in terms of how some of the emerging skills needs can be incorporated into courses and course modules. If TVETs can really get to grips with emerging job and skills demand, there is every reason to believe that they can indeed place themselves at the forefront of helping their local economies and communities recover.

X