I understand how important labour market information is: Where are the jobs? Where are the jobs going to be? What are the jobs? What are the jobs going to be? What does that job entail? What will I have to do? What skills will I need to have? What subjects should I study? What level of qualification should I be aiming for?
All of them are very important and relevant questions. And the careers industry as a whole provides the answers to these questions.
And yet we don’t.
We don’t provide answers to the questions, instead we provide the data and expect our users to be able to interpret that data and derive their own answers. We expect a 14 year old to be able to analyse, understand and critique data and its presentation.
Take a look at the job prospects for these 3 careers:
At first glance, the prospects for these careers look exactly the same, a nice upwards line meaning more opportunities! However, while the trend is the same, the starting points are completely different, and that matters just as much as the direction of travel:
- The opportunities for Career 1 have increased by 50%! Does that mean it will be easy to get into that career? No, emphatically not, it’s only increased by 100 to 300. Unless a young person has a real hankering, relevant work experience and loads of contacts (realistically, a parent in the career already) then the chances of landing a job in Career 1 is tiny.
- The opportunities for Career 2 have increased by 50%! But its only increased from 2,000 to 3,000 opportunities, meaning it will still be difficult to get into.
- The opportunities for Career 3 have increased by 50%! And they’ve increased from 2,000,000 to 3,000,000! This means there’s a real chance of a job in this career.
A young person could easily misinterpret these graphs and start down the wrong track, deciding to take the wrong subjects for instance.
Expecting your customers to have to do the heavy lifting themselves is wrong; don’t do it. I understand why its done, its done like this because its easier for the company, plain and simple.
We believe that we, as a responsible careers guidance company, should bear the cost of answering the question and not just provide the data and hope that our users have the nous to be able to interpret the data correctly.