Labour Market Information/Intelligence (LMI) are terms that can sound a little dry. You might think that they involve detailed data around employment rates, salaries and industry demand. Which of course they do. But it’s also a lot more. If you’re wondering how to use LMI in your job search and/or career planning, then read on!
First let’s think about the distinction between information and intelligence. Information is the raw data, gathered from original sources, for example the Office of National Statistics (ONS). You can trust that this information is reliable. You can’t however trust that it will be in the most user –friendly format. Which brings us onto labour market intelligence. Thankfully there are kindly people out there who will take the raw data, analyse it and quite often summarise their relevant findings. And how could this benefit you? It could give you an insight into new and emerging industries and an idea of employment numbers in established fields. It may even show you where the gaps in the market might lie; now and in the future.
Chances are you’ve used your own LMI to make career and work decisions in the past, even if you haven’t heard the term before. As well as raw and analysed data, LMI refers to any knowledge you may have about how the labour market works; its structure and your place within it. How did you find your last or current job, course or PhD? Did you search online or was it through word of mouth? Where do you think the next opportunities might arise? Consider how you answered the last question – what information and experience did you draw on.
Using an LMI focused approach can enable you to get a clear picture of how your chosen field lives, breathes and grows. Once you gain and maintain this knowledge you will be in the best position when it comes to making choices and moving on.
It’s a useful reflective exercise to do even if you’re not thinking about making any changes. Mapping your industry can be done in your mind or physically on paper. You could start by researching a variety of sources, such as recruitment agencies, the job centre (and other centralised services), newspapers, potential employers and industry organisations/publications. Then add to this your own anecdotal knowledge. Speak to colleagues and anyone else who works in the field.
This will be guess work to an extent; LMI won’t predict your future, or the future of your industry. But it will be educated guess work, helping you hone your intuition and encourage a little planned happenstance. It’s worth considering the reliability of your source when you’re researching. How recent is the information? Who published it? Reflect on the motive of the author – do they want to inform, or persuade? Not all sources are impartial.
There’s nothing definitive about LMI and it may take a little digging around to get the information or opinion that you want. But by drawing on a variety of sources you should be able to create an LMI map of your industry and plot your path within it. And who knows where that could lead you!