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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.3 Skills forecasting

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 25/11/2020 - 10:57

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  1. Forecasting system(s)
  2. Skills development

Forecasting system(s)

The UKCES Working Futures report series, published in 2016 before UKCES closed in 2017 (see below), presents official labour market projections for the UK 2014-2024. The series projected the future size and shape of the labour market by considering employment prospects by industry, occupation, qualification level, gender and employment status. The Working Futures model focused on sectoral and occupational employment structures, qualifications, and general workforce trends (including replacement demand). The approach exploited existing official data, including the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The full methodology used is set out in the 2016 Technical Report.  

A suite of data workbooks complement the Working Futures reports. Each workbook contains analysis of projected employment and replacement demand by occupation and qualification level. Workbooks are available at varying levels of sectoral detail for the UK.

The Employer Skills Survey (ESS) and Employer Perspective Survey (EPS) also contribute to the UK’s labour marketing forecasting. Both are biennial surveys, carried out in alternate years. The ESS provides insight into the skills issues employers face and the action they are taking to address them. The EPS provides data on the views and actions of 18,000 employers across the UK as they make decisions about how to engage with training providers, schools, colleges and individuals in the wider skills system, to get the skills they need.

Working Futures, the Employer Skills Survey and Employer Perspectives were produced by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). Management of the Employer Skills Survey and the Employer Perspectives Survey was moved to the UK Government's Department for Education when UKCES closed in early 2017.

The Northern Ireland Skills Barometer is a forecasting tool developed by the Department for Employment and Learning (now part of the Department for the Economy) used to estimate the future skills needs across a range of economic scenarios (e.g. a reduction in Corporation Tax, or the impact of austerity). It provides clear indications of current, emerging and future skills gaps. It is also expected to act as a driver for the further development of careers education, information, advice and guidance. The Skills Barometer report published in 2019 provides a detailed understanding of the skill requirements for the Northern Ireland economy up to 2028 with the aim of ensuring that any skills gaps are identified and addressed. The research analyses where the skills gaps are currently, where they are emerging and where they are likely to emerge over the longer term.

Skills development

Success through Skills: Transforming Futures, published by the Department for  Economy in 2011, provides a framework of the development of skills in Northern Ireland up to 2020. The Strategic Integration of Skills and Innovation Policy in Northern Ireland identifies high priority skill and innovation policy implications in Northern Ireland. 

Success through Skills: Structured to Deliver Success, published in 2015, illustrates how the work and strategies undertaken by DEL in relation to further education, higher education, training, the Careers Service, the Employment Service and employment law, dovetail to provide one overall Skills Implementation Plan and deliver the goals set out in the Skills Strategy. The actions addressed in the many strategies outlined in the plan, include:

  • understanding the demand for skills
  • improving the quality and relevance of education and training
  • improving productivity by increasing the skill levels of the workforce
  • tackling skills barriers to employment and employability
  • engaging stakeholders. 

Note: DEL was dissolved in May 2016. Most of its responsibilities, including skills, were transferred into the new Department for the Economy.

Generating our Success: the Northern Ireland strategy for Youth Training, was published in June 2015. It sets out the future direction for youth training in Northern Ireland, including new policy commitments and an implementation plan. It builds on the Interim Report of the review of youth training, published in November 2014, and complements Securing our Success: the Northern Ireland Strategy on Apprenticeships, published in June 2014. It sets out 22 policy commitments, summarised in four themes, for youth training:

  • Theme 1 outlines the core features of the new youth training system, highlighting how young people can access a new baccalaureate-style curriculum that delivers a breadth of skills and knowledge at Level 2 (qualifications at this Level are generally taken at age 16) and integrates structured work-based learning.
  • Theme 2 highlights support measures to help young people successfully complete their training and progress into employment or professional and technical training at a higher level.
  • Theme 3 sets out proposals for the delivering the new youth training system, including new structures to allow employers to information curriculum content for their sector.
  • Theme 4 sets out a range of measures designed to ensure that the highest standards of quality are maintained.

The new system replaces the previous options for training at Level 2. The Youth Training Pilot in Northern Ireland in 2015/16 and 2016/17 reported a success rate of 69.4% and 59.2% respectively with over 750 students taking part.

Both general and vocational qualifications are grouped into levels within the Regulated Qualifications Framework(RQF), from entry level to level 8. The levels are mapped to the European Qualifications Framework.

Figure E1.1. of Generating our Success) shows how the new youth training system can be accessed and outlines the two routes for participation.