This week we’re going to focus on Birmingham and give you some insight into what is changing in terms of jobs, work and skills.
Birmingham is the second largest city in the UK in terms of population. Its residents are young (it is the youngest major city in Europe), and there is a split in education between its huge student population (it is home to five universities, and the largest UK research contingent outside London) and those who have very few qualifications at all. It faces a number of economic challenges, but also has some factors that make it appealing to companies both large and small.
On the surface, Birmingham has a large number of economically inactive residents. The culturally diverse population, as noted by the Birmingham Economic Review, has led to statistics such as a low percentage of Pakistani and Bangladeshi women in work (28.5%), relative to women as a whole in the area; in addition to people who stay at home instead of working, there is a far larger than average student population, categorised as ‘economically inactive’ despite its future potential. Both of these groups have the opportunity to convert into employed workers, which would raise employment numbers significantly – and the city has recognised this, including both women’s outreach and retention of graduating students in its review suggestions.
There is a big start-up industry in Birmingham, with over 33,000 ‘micro enterprises’ (businesses with fewer than 10 employees) as compared to Leeds at just under 25,000 and Aberdeen at around 7,500.
There is, to quote Professor Anne Green of the University of Birmingham, a ‘long tail of low skills more pronounced than nationally’. This need for less qualified and untrained workers, if it continues, will temper any educational and economic growth. However, there are highly skilled sectors that having been growing, and will probably continue to do so. The lack of workers who are aged 30-44 in the city means that while there is a big graduate/entry-level market in terms of both demand and supply, there is a real need for those with significantly more experience and higher level qualifications.
Science and Technology
Technology has now permeated most of our jobs, whether that’s overseeing the self-service checkouts at a supermarket or setting up Amazon Alexa to help new mothers with breastfeeding support through Breastfeeding Friend. In Birmingham, with its high proportion of financial, scientific and human health roles, STEM areas play a huge role in business, and it’s wise to consider them as a viable option for your career. Here are some roles you could consider that are currently available for graduates, and here is the kind of thing you might be suitable for if you aren’t degree-educated.
With a young population, large teaching hospitals, and universities providing excellent training grounds, it’s no wonder that human health is a growing industry in the Birmingham area. The Skills Investment Plan 2016–2026 suggests that there will be 42,000 jobs available in the industry by 2022. As the graduate population gets older, if it stays in the region, the demand for health-related consultants may be filled, but if not, there’s a real gap in the market if you might be interested in that kind of work.
Construction as a whole, and with the impact of the HS2 project in particular, means Birmingham will have a decent share of these jobs available. The good news is that it’s the kind of industry where you can get in on the ground floor, for example with an apprenticeship, a general college course, or entry-level employment. If you’re already beyond that level, the University of Birmingham offers several types of postgraduate degree in civil engineering and construction management, so you can really stand out to future employers.
According to the aforementioned Skills Investment Plan, recruiters in Birmingham not only had trouble finding people with the right academic qualifications, they had to work harder to find people who were adept at communication, basic digital literacy, organisational skills and foreign languages. These are things you can build up with practice, so it’s difficult to know how to get going if you don’t have any work experience, but you can try to draw from your own life to assess and improve these. For example, volunteering with these specific self-improvements in mind will make you feel more accomplished than just volunteering because you don’t have anything else to do. And remember, if digital literacy is an issue, your local library can often help with free lessons, or at least the use of a computer to play around with.
At Stay Nimble. we work with one of the biggest job market data companies (Burning Glass) to analyse and help people understand how work is changing, and what skills are growing in demand.
For Birmingham during the last 90 days the top 9 in demand occupations in the last three months represented 30% of all advertised jobs and were:
- Sales related
- Programmers and software development professionals
- Marketing and sales directors
- Human resources and industrial relations officers
- IT business analysts, architects and systems designers
- Secondary education teaching professionals
- Customer service occupations
When analysing the skills in demand according to advertised job postings, the following skills are most frequently occurring across all advertised jobs:
Focusing your effort on identifying the skills you have, the skills in demand and then understanding how to close notable gaps is a key activity to ensure you are able to move between new types of work. So if you don’t know how to use Excel, jump onto Udemy and for £20, you can take a great course to improve your skills. Or maybe you want to take part in the 10% of jobs that require project management.
Whatever you choose, creating a clear pathway is a key activity to moving toward something new, and we’re here to make that as easy as possible for you.
Grab your free profile on Stay Nimble today, and we will help match you to the new types of work being created in the Birmingham area. And if new types of work appear that you have never done before, but you could be great at, we’ll be the first to tell you about it and help you learn the skills you need to succeed.
Author: Katherine Stephen
Katherine is a qualified careers advisor and a member of the Career Development Institute. She has just begun a PhD programme to research meta-skill development in the workplace, and is a fiction editor and publisher in her spare time. You can find her on Twitter at @katobell.