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Why we should use Labour Market Information during Subject Selection

We’re coming back around to Subject Selection time again and I’ve been asked quite a few questions lately about how we can integrate Labour Market Information (LMI) into the guidance we give young people around choosing senior subjects.

So this year we’re going to be doing things a little differently for Subject Selection. We’re unpacking two things:

  1. The pathways each subject can lead to, and
  2. LMI for those pathways

This is a big job, and it’s still underway, but the aim is to give students accurate data around where each subject could lead so they can make informed decisions.

I’ve been examining some of the data that’s been coming in from the Career Journey survey we’ve been running with the Career Clusters, which is helping us understand where people have taken their senior subjects, and that data will be out soon, but for today I just wanted to take a quick look at a snapshot of some of the LMI data as an example of what we’re trying to achieve.

An example – Dance vs. Digital Skills

Despite knowing that digital workers are in demand, we’re seeing persistently low numbers of enrolments in software and digital senior subjects. For example, only 5% of NSW senior students took either Software Design and Development or Information Processes and Technology in 2021, (the latest data we have). And this is replicated elsewhere; around 7% of Queensland QCE students took Digital Solutions in Year 11 and 12.

But we need more digital workers – the Digital Skills Organisation predicts we will need around 60,000 additional digital workers each year to meet demand. If we do the maths, in 2021 there were 234k Year 12 students, and around 5% to 7% of them study digital skills, we only have around 14k students studying digital skills in high school, which isn’t enough.

According to Labour Market Insights, we can see that there are a range of jobs for digital workers, all with great growth prospects and impressive salaries, which means students who do choose to study digital skills in Year 11 and 12 are well placed to find a career.

We should also be looking at this in context; other subjects attract similar numbers of students but have significantly different Labour Market implications.

Dance, for example, which attracts about two thirds of the number of students as Digital Skills (3550 for Digital Skills vs. 2317 for Dance in Queensland in 2022), is a field that only employs a fraction of the number of people; around 1,000 people work as Dancers or Choreographers in Australia, with another 6,700 working as Dance Teachers, and the majority of the work for both is part time.

Students select senior subjects for a whole range of reasons, and LMI is just one of the considerations in their choices, but at least if they know the facts then they can make informed decisions.

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