Regional workshop agrees priorities for graduate labour market analysis

Marina Tapley, YU Policy and Research Officer

In May 2024, Yorkshire Universities (YU) held a workshop to agree priorities for graduate labour market analysis with participants from across Higher Education, including YU group members from the Graduate Implementation Group (GIG) and Graduate Data group (GDG), as well as partners working across sub-regional governance structures on data, policy and programmes related to skills and employment.

This session formed part of Yorkshire Universities’ ongoing graduate talent workstream and particularly supports work to implement the priority area of “Data sharing & analysis for effective strategy and action” as identified in the collaborative report on Supporting Graduate Employment and Employability in Yorkshire.

The workshop built on many conversations with stakeholders about existing analysis, including a recent webinar on higher-level skills in Yorkshire and Humber Labour Markets with Peter Glover, Economic Evidence Manager at West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA). Many conversations with stakeholders ahead of the workshop also helped to identify areas of interest to form the start of the discussion.

Ahead of the session YU Policy and Research Officer compiled key existing resources (data, briefings, articles and reports) under the areas of interest raised as a starting point for the discussion. An updated version of compiled resources has now been published on the YU website to serve as a tool for those looking to conduct analysis of regional labour markets. We hope that this may support further work by partners in the areas they identified being of use to their work, but that were not selected for YU to progress.  

To open the session context Chris Millward, Professor of Practice in Education Policy, University of Birmingham, gave an insightful scene-setting presentation on how the use of higher-level skills in Yorkshire fits into the national picture and opportunities for coordination, data and alignment. The presentation set the context and set the participants up with key considerations to bring into the interactive sections of the session.


Through exploratory conversations with members and partners we established key topic areas that there was common interest in examining: overall numbers of students and graduates; supply and demand of graduate talent in key sectors; international students and graduates; graduate mobility, retention and mobilisation; graduates own views of success; enterprise, start-ups and freelance.  

A key outcome of the workshop was to identify the top three priority areas for our members and partners, where YU was best placed to lead activity and could feasibly provide insights to support action. The top three topics selected by order of popularity were:

  1. Supply and Demand of graduate talent in key sectors
  2. Graduate mobility, retention, and utilisation
  3. Graduates’ own views of success

Development of priority topics

The second section of discussions in the session was to further develop a focus and approach for each of the identified areas. An overview of the key points put forward in the session and initial follow up conversations are outlined below.

Topic one, supply and demand in key sectors, has been selected by the YU team to be the focus on the upcoming data session at the YU 11th July Conference. We welcome ideas from members or partners who are interested to lead work in one of the other topic areas and build on the priorities identified though work for their organisation or in collaboration with partners.

Supply and Demand in key sectors

  • There is an opportunity to build on existing analysis and think about how we communicate key messages to bring out the narrative and provide broader insights that account for the nuances of this complex topic.
  • We can build on analysis prepared by Peter Glover, Economic Evidence Manager for West Yorkshire Combined Authority, for the YU webinar on Higher-Level Skills.
  • This topic should include a consideration of flexibility in the ideas of supply and demand. It is important to emphasis transferable skills and non-linear career paths, as well as opportunities for development in understanding of and interest in different sectors throughout time at university.
  • To emphasise this flexibility in student’s career thinking and the benefits to employers of engaging with students we can draw on the key messages from the YU career readiness pilot around the high proportions of students at the early stages of their career thinking and the high levels of demand for experience.
  • It is also important to cover some of the challenges for matching up supply and demand, including considering the opportunities available to students facing additional barriers to employment.
  • Graduate mobility and how Yorkshire fits into the national picture in relation to supply and demand of graduates can provide important context for this work.

Graduate mobility, retention and utilisation

  • There are recognised challenges around underemployment and underutilisation of graduates who stay in the region.
  • It is important to think about opportunities for graduates in the region alongside other economic development factors and interventions, such investment, transport and enterprise.
  • This requires a nuanced approach that recognises the variation in geography within Yorkshire and its sub-regions, the different contexts of mobility and migration.
  • There is the possibility to build on work to communicate the benefits to employers of working with graduates.  

Graduates’ own views of success

  • The connection with employer perceptions was raised and how employers see their contribution compared to how graduates view the opportunities available.
  • The graduate voice questions of the Graduate Outcomes survey is a good source of information on this and can confidently be used with some caveats. This could be supported by ONS data from the annual population survey with regional breakdowns.
  • The Mayor’s SME Graduate Scheme in West Yorkshire could provide an opportunity to explore graduate and employer experiences and perceptions of success through the evaluation processes for the pilot cohort on this scheme.
  • There is also a potential overlap with topic 2 in relation to graduates’ motivations to stay in the region.

Next steps

Based on consultations and engagement with members and partners to date, the YU Executive Team have decided to focus the next stage of YU-led work on the most popular topic chosen by the workshop group; i.e. the supply and demand of graduate talent in key sectors of importance to Yorkshire and the Humber. Further preparatory work on this will be led by the YU team, supported by the data group and key partners, to prepare some initial analysis and insights for further discussions with partners at the data breakout sessions at the 11th July conference. The aim of the preparatory work will be to inform and shape a focused output or deliverable.

Related resources

Yorkshire Universities supporting graduates and the region: co-ordination, data and alignment by Professor Chris Millward

Another key output from this workshop is the collated resources for regional analysis of graduate labour markets on our Padlet. We hope this will enable and encourage partners to use and build on the information generated to support further analysis by their organisation and with partners. Please note that we’re working on updating this Padlet with the latest data releases, please check back or flag if you spotted something that is missing. 

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