Skills to pay the bills


Data visualisation: What skills are most frequently sought by UK employers? How has that changed? This skills chart sheds light on these questions by using data from online job adverts

16th February 2016
By Cath Sleeman

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The skills chart above is based on data from Burning Glass, a job market analytics company that collates job advertisement from over 40,000 websites daily. Specifically, we worked with data from adverts collected during the first four months of 2015, extracting any skills and software programs mentioned in each advert and the corresponding occupation category for the job advertised, amassing more than 8,000 unique skills and programs in total.

Official skills statistics come from the Employer Skills Survey but the survey is only conducted every two years, and asks employers about a small number of broad skill groups, classified into predefined and potentially ill-suited categories. As such, scraping data from job adverts in the way Burning Glass have done may provide a richer, more up-to-date picture of skill demands in the UK job market. By including software skills, the data also sheds light on the relative popularity of these programs and computing languages.

It's worth noting some limitations of this approach, however. The chart shows skills that employers demand, but not skill shortages. Second, skills are not necessarily independent of each other – so a decline in one sort of management, for example, may be matched by the rise of another sort, and is not an indication of a decline in demand for management skills in general. Lastly, of course, the chart's underlying dataset only captures jobs advertised online.

Still, the chart is a useful complement to the Employer Skills Survey. There's more that could be drawn out of the same dataset, too, such as combining skills and salary data to determine the marginal value of each skill. Tracking these values over time could provide an alternative measure of skill shortages. You could also use the data to identify new occupations and industries by looking for new skills, or new combinations of skills.

A version of this story was originally published on the Nesta website


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