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How to use labour market information (LMI) to help make career decisions

18th June 2019

Author: icould.com

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using labour market information to make career decisions

Looking at data might not be top of your list when thinking about future, but it can open up how you think about work and careers. This guide explains where to find job data, how to use it, and what it can tell you.

What is labour market information?

Labour Market Information (LMI) is the name for facts and figures about jobs and employment. The information is used to give an overall picture of the past, present and future of work. The labour market is the term used to describe the amount of people working and looking for work, and the amount of jobs.

How can labour market information (LMI) help me with career decisions?

Here on icould.com, we’ve selected a few different types of LMI to help you think about career decisions.

LMI can help you understand:

  • what a job involves on a day-to-day basis
  • which jobs are growing or declining – for example, it is predicted that the amount of nurses will rise, but the amount of printers will fall
  • what qualifications or skills you might need to do a job
  • how much you might earn
  • how your interests and skills are relevant to particular jobs
  • what jobs there are in your region

You can find LMI below each icould video. So you can see real people talking about their careers and then scroll down to see LMI which relates to that job type.

You might find it helpful to have a quick look at a video page before reading on. So below this video about a train driver you can see data about the job of train and tram drivers. You can also click on the question mark symbol in the corner of each dataset for more information about what the data shows.

What do I need to consider when looking at labour market information (LMI)?

As with most statistics, LMI looks at trends and averages. It provides a general guide to jobs and the job market. LMI can help you:

  • look at careers in different ways
  • consider aspects of jobs which you may not have thought about before
  • ask questions

You can use LMI as a tool to help you make decisions about your future (but remember, there are lots of other factors to think about too).

LMI does not tell you what to do. It is not designed to give you a complete picture or a personal view. Remember, there will always be people with different experiences to what the data shows. And a job that is right for you may not work for someone else.

Other things to consider when looking at LMI:

  • The labour market changes. This is the most recent data available, but there is a delay between information being collected and processed. Jobs such as social media manager, drone operator or app developer simply did not exist several years ago. New jobs won’t always be reflected in LMI (and future jobs won’t be there at all)
  • Numbers are often rounded up or down and are not meant to be precise
  • Think about exploring jobs with similar words in the title. You may also want to look at a job family or sector to find similar job roles. This is because the same job can have different names. The official occupational title (which is how the job is categorised) may be different too

Looking at data sets

Average salary

This is the average salary people are paid for this job. There will be people with this job who are paid much more, and people who are paid much less.

Factors such as local area, industry and employer, as well as qualifications, skills and experience, all affect pay levels. Even in the same company, two people with same job can have very different pay.

Comparing the average salary for the job type with the UK average salary (which on icould.com is listed just beneath the job type average) will give you an idea if the job type has a low, average or high salary.

The figure for average salary is based on full-time employees and does not include overtime.

Also think about…

The cost of living. There can be a huge difference in your outgoings in different parts of the country. This applies to key costs, such as rent or mortgage payments, through to smaller buys, like a pint of beer.

As a general rule, living costs tend to be higher in London and the south east. But there are expensive places to live elsewhere in the UK. Pay levels for the same job can vary on location, but often don’t change much at all.

Average weekly hours

This figure indicates how many hours you can expect to work in your job.  In some jobs, it is common to work long-hours. In other jobs it is rare to work above the average.

Your career stage can also affect your average weekly hours. Junior doctors, for example, are known for working long hours. Senior doctors often work more regular hours.  So again, the figures you see here don’t tell the full story.

The figure here is for full-time workers and doesn’t include overtime.

Is time outside of work important to you? Looking at average weekly hours can help you think about whether a job may be a good fit.

Also think about…

When you work. Some jobs involve shift work or irregular hours. This can make a big difference to how you feel about your job. It’s worth thinking about how the hours you work will affect you now and in the future.

Gender split

This tells you what proportion of men and women do this job. Some job types have more male workers. Other job types have more women. Some are more evenly split.

Remember that companies and organisations are usually made up of people with different types of job, so even if you choose a job with more women or more men, you may not stand out in the workplace because of your gender.

Equally, you could choose a job with an average gender split, yet find yourself as the only man or women in your department.

Future employment

No one can predict the future so the figures in this section are a best guess. Experts consider whether the need for a job is likely to increase, stay around the same or reduce. Factors such as technology and jobs moving overseas (think self-service checkouts or call centres outside the UK) will affect certain job types.

Experts also look at how many people are expected to start and leave work in an industry. Industries with large numbers of workers due to retire may have a greater need for new starters.

If a job is in decline, there may still be opportunities available. But it could be harder to find a job, or the jobs available could become more specialist or need new skills.

This information could be useful if you’re trying to decide between two different career paths and want the best possible chance of getting a job.

Description, Qualifications and Tasks

This section gives a general picture of what a job involves and what qualifications people starting the job type are likely to have.

Things aren’t always what you think. Does a job title sound exciting? Taking a closer look at the Description and Tasks can help you understand what’s really involved.

Want to get into a certain role but not sure how to get there? The Qualifications section lists the most common qualifications needed for a job, but remember there may be other routes to get there too.

Employment by region

Your local area may be different to the region.  This is often the case with cities and rural areas. For example, opportunities in the city of Leeds will be different to those in the Yorkshire Dales, but figures for the region of Yorkshire will include both places.

Also think about…
Population levels. There may be more opportunities in London, but a more crowded and competitive job market. Your chance of getting a job could be greater in a region where there are fewer jobs, but less competition. More jobs, however, could increase your chances of success, so it can work both ways.

Top ten industries for this job

This helps show the different industries where people with this job work.

It is more relevant for some jobs than others. For example, project managers work in a wide range of industries, so it might be helpful to have an idea of which industries have the most jobs.

You might also find there are lots of opportunities in an industry which you didn’t associate with a job type.

Employment status

This shows the percentage of people in this job who work part-time, full-time or who are self-employed.

In some jobs, it is common to work part-time; in others it is still quite unusual.

Sometimes there is a link between gender and the number of part-time workers. For example, more women than men try to balance work with childcare or other family commitments:

  • 36 per cent of nurses are part-time; 86 per cent of nurses are female
  • Less than three per cent of electricians are part-time; one percent of electricians are female

In general, levels of part-time and flexible working are expected to increase in the future.

The data does not show if self-employed people work full or part-time.

More about LMI

Where does LMI come from and why is it collected?

Labour market information comes from a range of official surveys and sources. It is used by the government, education providers and businesses to help make future plans.

About LMI for All

The LMI data on icould.com is supplied by LMI for All, a project designed to make labour market information more easily available to inform career decisions.

LMI for All is an open data project funded by the Department for Education and run by a consortium led by the Institute of Employment Research at the University of Warwick.