We need open data on jobs and skills
To help workers at risk navigate their way to better jobs, it’s crucial we open up and share relevant data to help cities and regions to develop solutions for addressing local skills challenges.
A mismatch between the skills that people have and the skills that the economy needs is a major issue in the UK. Without guidance on which skills are going to be needed, many workers face stagnant pay and low social mobility. Meanwhile, businesses are unable to find workers with the right skills. The Open University estimates that skill shortages cost the UK £2 billion a year in higher salaries, recruitment costs and temporary staffing bills.
Big data and machine learning can offer timely, granular and accurate insights on jobs and skills, as demonstrated by Nesta’s first data-driven taxonomy of skills. This taxonomy used over 40 million UK online job adverts to help people learn more about the skills that they need, and how much those skills are valued by employers. However, even more relevant information and data is privately owned and not accessible to people and organisations (like career advice providers) who could use it to better understand how to navigate from one job to another.
To make sure more people can benefit from new data on jobs and skills, we are calling for action at a national and local level. We want:
- The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation to lead on creating a national jobs and skills data commons: a framework that would include, for example, shared language on occupations and skills, as well as ways of linking and accessing data. We’ve seen this work already when the Swedish Public Employment Service launched Jobtech, a platform that provides access to datasets such as occupation forecasts, current and historical job adverts, and a data-driven dynamic competence map. A similar platform would allow and encourage the UK Government, the employment industry and the education sector to share data and use it to inform skills solutions, helping current and future workers plan their careers.
- The UK Government to fund the development of a standardised taxonomy of skills to be used by national and local services, building on Nesta’s own taxonomy of skills. This would allow workers at risk to search and understand the available data at a local level, and to develop realistic plans for transitioning between occupations.
- Career advice providers to use the most accurate and relevant data to inform their services, giving people better tools for navigating their careers, taking inspiration from Bob (an open-source platform that provides jobseekers with personalised career advice, based on data from France’s Public Employment Service).