The RLSO exists to improve the collection, sharing and analysis of key data across sectors and stakeholders in south west and central Wales to support evidence-based policy. As part of this it produces an interactive online system providing local data and intelligence for Local Authorities (LAs) in the region (the homepage is here). This covers a wide range of topics and datasets with a focus on skills, employment and economic development.
As well as providing data, the site has an interactive online mapping system allowing users to compare and contrast LMI. It also produces reports providing an overview of changes to the economy at LA and regional level. The Observatory provides assistance to individuals and organisations wanting to use LMI both to identify appropriate datasets to answer user’s enquiries, and provide training and support in how to use the data it publishes.
To date, the LMI gathered has been used to support economic development activities, including informing the region’s official Economic Regeneration Strategies and supporting the development of curriculum planning. In particular, the Observatory was approached by the Institute of Life Sciences at Swansea University to identify the skills demands of this sector. This was done through employer interviews, focusing on the skills and qualifications the sector expected workers to have, difficulties in recruitment, skill gaps and any instances of over skilling. From this it was realised that there was an issue with retaining lab technicians in this sector, as workers tended to be degree holders who wanted to gain a range of experience by moving onto other roles. The University wanted to establish some stability in the role to avoid constant recruitment rounds, so RLSO used its local connections to arrange meetings between the University and local colleges to discuss the skills and knowledge the University would like to see in applicants for these roles. These discussions led to the development of level 2 and level 3 apprenticeship qualifications specific to this role, providing a direct route into this occupation without the need for a degree, and setting people up for a long-term career.