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  • Writer's pictureBen Owen

Embedding LMI - Are Your Curriculum and Marketing Strategies Aligned?

In an election year there is always great uncertainty as to what a potential change of government means for the FE and wider skills sector. We have already seen so much change over the past few years with qualification reform, funding challenges, ongoing apprenticeship policy updates, devolution (and with that the introduction of the Accountability Statement), and the introduction of initiatives such as the Lifelong Learning Entitlement. To add to this there’s the ongoing evolution of the Education Inspection Framework (EIF), and the need for colleges and providers to be able to evidence the link between their curriculum offer and the skills needs of their regional economy.

Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) is now playing a more central role than ever, not just from a curriculum strategy and design perspective, but also in terms of how it dovetails with strategic marketing, employer engagement, school and wider outreach activities – i.e. how we prepare our students for the world of work and beyond.

As devolution gathers pace, colleges will need to flex and adapt their planning activity, particularly in the areas of Adult Education Budget (AEB), commercial, apprenticeships and Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQ). We regularly hear from colleges how it is becoming increasingly vital to be able to understand the skills need of a region. Developing new curriculum can be costly and carries significant risk, therefore the use of LMI to justify sufficient demand is vital (triangulating LMI data with stakeholder feedback and student demand). LMI can also identify where specific soft skills need adding into the curriculum, so that it meets the needs of industry and ensures that students leave college more employable.

Whilst colleges have been using LMI to inform planning for many years, a common mistake is that it doesn’t align with the wider marketing strategy. Even more problematic, marketing teams are rarely involved in those early discussions, which means they are unable to incorporate it into their strategy.

Imagine a colleges’ curriculum planning team used LMI to determine growth in employer demand for jobs connected to Advanced Manufacturing in the area. In the ideal scenario, not only does the curriculum planning team look to increase provision in courses linked to these jobs, but the marketing team is fully aware of these plans right from the start, so that they can incorporate them into their strategy, ultimately feeding into digital advertising, social media, and schools outreach to promote these courses. Unfortunately, the ideal is rare, and quite often there is a lack of joined-up strategy, positioning, and resources to effectively take these new courses to market.

The bottom line is this: the more joined up a college’s marketing activities are to its curriculum planning process, the more coherent, consistent, and ultimately successful its strategy and promotion of these courses in the community are likely to be. But we appreciate this is not easy. Lack of time, resources, and even a “departmental” mentality can all conspire to prevent these connections being made early in the process, so holding colleges back from fulfilling their potential.

This is where GMP comes in. Not only do we understand how you can make these connections in theory, but we can help you make them in practice – as we’ve shown through our work with the likes of Bournemouth & Poole, HRUC and SHCG. Why not get in contact to find out how we can help your institution exploit the sum of its parts, joining your marketing strategy to your curriculum planning via LMI, so that you can truly promote your courses to your community with a genuinely coherent strategy.

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