Employment (current, past, future) and replacement demand


Data source: Working Futures

Provision: Econometric modelling using Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) data

Update: approx. 3 years

Questions you can ask of the data:

  • How many people are employed in a particular occupation?
  • What is the future demand for an occupation?

Example of visualised data:

Image of forecast data from RCU Ltd.

Source: RCU Ltd

Description of the dataset and provenance

Historical and projected estimates of employment levels by detailed 4 digit occupational category also covering highest qualification held, industry, region, gender and employment status as published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and more recently by the Department for Education.

Details of the owner / curator

The 2017-2027 data were commissioned by the Department for Education and prepared by the Warwick Institute for Employment Research in collaboration with Cambridge Econometrics. Data are now owned by the Department for Education. The Working Futures database draws on official data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), including the BRES and the LFS. Details can be found in the Technical Report.

Known quality issues with data

The Working Futures employment database provides the most detailed and consistent picture of employment structure available in the UK. It covers the period 1980-2024. It is based on a combination of official sources. The detailed numbers are constructed estimates based on econometric and other techniques rather than simple survey estimates. Values for 2014-2024 are projections based on a detailed macroeconomic forecast and a set of assumptions about employment prospects as set out in the report.

Please note that these projections are based on employment estimates derived from published labour market data. They are not precise predictions of future employment levels, but represent the most likely trajectory of labour market change, given long-term trends in the economy and explicit assumptions about likely future economic change. The projections were created when it was expected there would be a negotiated Brexit and before the Covid-19 pandemic, which may result in considerable disruption to the UK and world economic system. These projections indicate what the labour market might have looked like before the pandemic. They, therefore, can be used to provide a measure of how the labour market has changed and the implications of the pandemic.

Quality control processes

The employment results in Working Futures are subject to a detailed peer review process by the Department for Education and other stakeholders and users. The results have previously been made freely available to users by the Department for Education via the Institute for Employment Research website, but subject to obtaining a Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Notice to avoid problems of disclosure. The current data set has been aggregated across industries to avoid problems of disclosure

Accuracy of data

Because the employment estimates are a complex combination of information from a number of different sources it is not possible to put precise confidence intervals around the point estimates. Based on guidelines produced by ONS for general use of LFS data (which lie at the heart of the database) the following “rules of thumb” are suggested for users of the data:

  1. If the numbers employed in a particular category / cell (defined by the 12 regions, gender, status, occupation, qualification and industry (75 categories)) are below 1,000 then a query will return “no reliable data available” and offer to go up a level of aggregation across one or more of the main dimensions (e.g. UK rather than region, some aggregation of industries rather than the 75 level, or SOC 2 digit rather than 4 digit).
  2. If the numbers employed in a particular category / cell (defined as in 1.) are between 1,000 and 10,000 then a query will return the number but with a flag to say that this estimate is based on a relatively small sample size and if the user requires more robust estimates they should go up a level of aggregation across one or more of the main dimensions (as in 1).
  3. Rounding of estimates – in order to avoid false impressions of precision the API rounds up the estimates before delivering the answer to any query. In the case of the Working Futures employment estimates any numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand.

Frequency of update

Does the data underlying the API change over time?

The Working Futures series of labour market assessments have been conducted once every 2-3 years since 2002. The next full update was published in early 2020. The underlying data sources (BRES, LFS) are updated on a more frequent basis, but individually cannot provide the level of detail available in Working Futures.

Will the data go out of date?

The Working Futures data are as accurate as they can be at the time they are produced. As time goes by they become more out of date but they are still likely to produce a good broad brush picture of employment opportunities available.

Does the data you capture change on at least a daily basis?

No – see above.

What type of dataset series is this?

Constructed data set based on time series information from various sources including BRES and the LFS.

Is a feed of changes made available?

No see above.

How frequently do you create a new release?

When Working Futures is updated (every 2-3 years, see above).

What is the delay between creating a dataset and publishing it?

Once the Working Futures database has been updated and published it can be uploaded to the LMI for All database in a few weeks.

Do you also provide dumps of the dataset?

The Department for Education currently provide access to the main Working Futures database in the form of Excel Workbooks. This only goes down to the 2 digit SOC 2010 level. In the future the data may be made available in other ways.

Will the data be corrected if they contain errors?


Disclosure and confidentiality

The Department for Education complies with all applicable Data Protection laws in the UK.

The Working Futures data included in this database are non-disclosive.