Choosing amongst sources of LMI

Learning objective

  • To identify criteria that can be applied when choosing amongst sources of LMI.

LMI sources in practice

You will know from your own practice or from following other learning units on this site that finding and making sense of reliable and relevant Labour Market Information is not simple.

The following diagram attempts to capture some of the complexity related to the ways that career practitioners will require access to different types and sources of LMI, sometimes overlapping, depending on their immediate requirements.

LMI to which practitioners give clients direct access (e.g. descriptions of jobs and training / education requirements) LMI informing their practice (e.g. LMI relating to the equality of employment opportunities in different sectors / jobs) LMI interpreted by the practitioner for the client (that is: What does this particular LMI mean for the particular circumstances of the client / customer?) For example, if a client / customer wants to be a doctor, have they considered the length and / or cost of training required?)

Careers practitioners typically feel pressurised, with limited time to research information.  Consequently, LMI providers need to be aware that information: must be easily accessible; available in a simple form; and in accordance with the underpinning principles, which include:

  • Ethical: adherence to the core ethos of equality of opportunity for all and compliance with related legislation.
  • Impartial: all LMI produced for the guidance/counselling process does not promote one sector, in a competitive manner, as superior to any other, or mask an economic decline.
  • Accessible: addressing physical limitations as well as the ability to understand particular levels of complexity.
  • Robust: ensuring reliability, comprehensiveness and currency.
  • Relevant: to the needs of practitioners in their guidance work with clients.

A practitioner guide to the efficacy and quality of LMI

In the first unit, the distinction was made between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ information, as well as between labour market information and intelligence.

The following checklist provides a guide for practitioners in assessing the efficacy and quality of LMI.

Choosing between sources of LMI

Who has produced the LMI?

Think about:

  • Whether the source of LMI can be regarded as trustworthy.
  • What are the aims and objectives of the organisation producing the LMI?  Is it promotional (putting a positive spin on particular facts) or excluding facts?
  • Whether you have been able to get similar data from more than one source – as this will help you achieve a more balanced and reliable view on of a particular situation.
How was the LMI collected?

Think about:

  • How and why data were collected? (i.e. methodology)
  • What is the coverage and degree of detail available?
  • Is the data presented reliability?
  • How valid is the data?
How is the LMI data disaggregated and classified?

Think about the:

  • Relevance and appropriateness of units of measurement.
  • Disaggregation of data, particularly geographical boundaries.
  • Classification systems applied.
  • Comparability of data and consistency over time.
  • Analysis in terms of your needs; and
  • Relevance to the area in which you are operating.
Is the LMI up-to-date?

Think about:

  • When was the research carried out?
  • What period does the data relate to?
  • When was the LMI published?
  • Potential currency and usefulness of data to current situations.
  • Timeliness.
  • Frequency of update (and when the next data will be available); and
  • Where there is any more recent research that either supports or contradicts the data?
Is the LMI fit for purpose?

Think about the:

  • Relevancy to service needs.
  • Aspirational attributes of LMI.
  • Accessibility of language (i.e. jargon-free).
  • Length and presentation of data.
  • Balance of data, charts and explanatory text; and
  • Whether the data is presented in different formats (i.e. textual and graphical).

Further reading and reflection

Vector image of desk

Think about your use of LMI in practice:

  • Focusing on your most common sources of LMI, how confident are you that they comply to the underpinning principles above?
  • Use the checklist to assess the provenance and value of these data for use in your practice.

Read a GMT interview with Professor Jenny Bimrose: Labour market information: pivotal in careers advice and guidance.


Go to the next unit: Understanding replacement demand and skills shortages