What is LMI and why is it important?

Learning objectives

  • To distinguish different types of labour market information (LMI).
  • To consider why LMI is important for careers education and guidance.
  • To reflect upon skill shortages.

What is LMI?

There are different types of labour market information (LMI). For example:

  • ‘Hard LMI’ typically refers to data gathered directly from the labour market and / or employer surveys on a geographic and / or sector basis to provide a statistical picture of current and likely future employment and skills trends.
  • ‘Soft LMI’, in contrast, refers to information collected from a range of other, less official sources, like meetings or conversations with employers, or the experiences of particular jobs provided by people working in those jobs.

Labour market intelligence represents a further, important distinction. It refers to the interpretation of hard labour market data for different purposes and is what career practitioners and teachers find most useful for the career guidance process.

Video: What is LMI?  

Watch this short video presentation (which explores different forms of labour market data)


Why is LMI important?

LMI is pivotal to effective careers practice because high quality, impartial, current, expert knowledge about the labour market distinguishes careers support from other types of helping.

A careers practitioner or teacher is likely to use LMI every time they interact with someone seeking help. Questions about course choice, self-employment, how much money could be earned in a particular job, where the local job vacancies can be found, what will the ‘hot jobs’ be when they leave education? None of these questions or issues could be addressed without LMI. LMI can help to demystify the world of work and can help individuals achieve their career goals.

In summary, LMI provides the knowledge and understanding of how the labour market functions and is crucial for making sense of changing economic circumstances. It can also help when thinking about what the future might hold, so can support career decision making.

Reflection and further reading

How do you make sense of labour market information?

What do your clients and / or students ask you about the labour market?

What type of LMI do you need and use the most?

From Data to Information: What LMI do career development practitioners need?, Canadian LMI Council, LMI Insights No. 20, 2019

In Conversation with Students:  The Information They Want on Wages, Canadian LMI Council, LMI Insights No. 21, 2019


Go to the next unit: Who uses LMI and what for?