As of 2020, the youth unemployment rate in the UK sits at 12.7%. Though this is a substantial reduction from a high of 22.3% in late 2011, it is still much higher than the overall adult unemployment rate of 3.9%.
Many people of all ages, but especially young people, do not have access to all the information they need to make informed career choices. Vital information like entry routes into a chosen career, opportunities in a certain city or region, and level of competition can be difficult to find.
That’s where LMI comes in.
What is LMI and what types of LMI are there?
LMI stands for Labour Market Information. In short, it refers to any relevant information about the current state of the jobs market.
LMI can include information like:
- The industries and businesses that operate in a certain location.
- The types of jobs that exist and what they involve.
- How many of those jobs there are.
- The skills that are currently or will be in high demand.
- Commute and travel to work patterns.
- Typical rates of pay.
- Career progression opportunities.
LMI can be both quantitative (related to numbers and statistics), and qualitative (information and phenomena that can be observed but not measured). Qualitative LMI is usually based on studies and on data such as the Census, while qualitative LMI is based on interviews, anecdotes, press reports, networks, and so on.
Why is LMI useful?
The world of work is complex, even for adults who have had long professional careers. Many people feel that they fell into their career “by accident” or had to take the available opportunities rather than follow their passions.
LMI helps to demystify the jobs market. It helps to take the confusion out of career planning, job hunting, career progression, and changing career. When people have accurate and up-to-date information, they are better equipped to make an informed choice and to plan appropriately.
In other words, robust LMI makes navigating the world of work easier for everyone.
Why is LMI particularly important to young people?
As we’ve seen based on the unemployment statistics, it can be particularly challenging for young people to find work. This can be down to a variety of factors, from misconceptions about young people to the “you need to have experience to get experience” paradox. However, the challenges facing young people early in their career can also be down to a lack of readily available and useful information.
The world is moving very fast and things are changing all the time. As new technologies and industry changes create some jobs and make others obsolete, it can be hard to keep up. In addition, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has thrown another significant spanner in the works. With record levels of job losses and new school leavers and university graduates trying to launch their careers in the strange current reality, it can be hard to know where to start.
LMI does not fix all these issues by itself, of course, but it does help. Since LMI also attempts to project into the future to determine what types of skills will be most in demand, it can also be useful for young people who are not yet looking for a job, but will be in the next year or two.
Anne Milton, MP explained it like this: “It is vital, in an environment where new industries are emerging and many of the most important jobs of the future don’t yet exist, that individuals have access to high-quality labour market information and earnings data to underpin their choices”.
LMI is there to arm you with all the data you need to make informed choices about your career.
What are some ways for young people to use LMI?
If you’re job hunting or will be soon, learning about LMI will help you to understand what opportunities are available to you and how you can best take advantage of them. If you’re already in a job, LMI can give you some insight into how you might be able to grow in your career, what opportunities to advance are available to you, and how
Based on LMI, you can decide things like:
- Are there job opportunities for me where I live, or do I need to consider relocating for the career I want?
- Does the pay for my dream career align with how much I’d like to earn? If not, am I okay with that?
- How long will it take me to rise through the ranks in my career to my desired position, and am I willing to do the work to get there?
- How competitive is my industry? Do I have a backup plan if it doesn’t work out in the way I want it to?
- Is college, university, an apprenticeship, or working my way up from an entry level job the right path for me?
How to research LMI
If you’re struggling to know where to start, don’t panic! We’ve compiled some resources to help you.
Prospects.ac.uk is a career website aimed at recent graduates and current undergraduate students. If you’ve ever wondered, “what on earth can I do with my degree?” Prospects is the site for you. Take the quiz or use the Career Planner to start working out where you want to go.
LMI For All is a comprehensive portal that collates various sources of LMI to provide high-quality data.
ICould uses data from LMI For All as well as real-life personal stories from young people. It has thousands of resources including videos and a calendar of careers events across the UK.
The National Careers Service offers over 800 job profiles on its website. Under each profile you’ll learn about the average salary, working hours, typical duties, and routes into the profession. Here’s an example:
Exercise: The Careerometer
Think of two possible career paths you’re interested in. Ideally, they should be different. Without looking anything up, write down for each one:
- How much you think it pays per year.
- How many hours you think you’d work in an average week.
Whether you think demand is growing (more people will be needed to do that role in the future) or shrinking (fewer people will be needed).
Then go to Nelson & Colne College’s Careerometer, and enter your two jobs in the purple and green box. How do they compare to one another? How do the real answers compare to your estimates? You might be surprised!
I decided to have a go at it, as an example. Here’s the Careerometer’s answers for a veterinarian (the career I wanted when I was ten!) and a writer (the career I actually ended up in!)
What you do with this information is up to you, but knowing all the facts will help you make the right choice for you.