Looking to bring the benefits of big data to the apprenticeships sector, MWS has taken Department for Education data and transformed it into an interactive map designed to help providers plan their offering.
Increasingly, businesses are using the power of big data to improve business performance. Vast amounts of data are being generated by online analytics, particularly as consumers spend more time browsing and buying online. People also interact with brands on social media, and business can use analytics to work out which marketing strategies produce the most engagement.
Using this data, companies deploy algorithms to micro-target customers with anticipatory purchasing – products that they might like based on what they already buy.
While the business sector has been quick to jump on the power of big data to deliver results, the education sector has been less sure of its benefits. Yet big data is already being used in some institutions to identify patterns around, for example, efficiency, retention and completion rates. Data can be used to target students with courses, career options and deliver personalised learning. And big data can help to maximise administrative, procurement and planning efficiencies.
The reluctance to engage with big data may be about capacity – the already overstretched public sector can’t necessarily devote the resources to making sense of the sheer amount of raw data out there.
But we have.
Every year, the Department for Education releases 50Mb+ raw statistical data files on apprenticeships. The data has information on the number and types of apprenticeships delivered in each local authority district, separate files relating to the locations of provider delivery and rounded learner counts, and data on working age populations. This is information that could significantly help providers plan their service delivery and offerings.
Led by Mark Abrahams, Head of Research at MWS Technology, we combined these multiple data files and summarised them for each local authority district area. We then created a Power BI report which included a choropleth map of local district authorities in England, with each area shaded according to apprenticeship population and performance metrics.
“Power BI,” says Abrahams, “is an impressive tool for readily visualising and simplifying a high volume of (complex) data into dashboards that can be more easily digested by people who are not expert users of statistics software.”
The result is an interactive map – the Aptem Area Analysis Tool – that apprenticeship providers can access. It can be used to:
- Identify the number of learners and providers operating within a selected local authority district. Simply click on the map of England (page four of the report) to zoom into a specific location and see the results. You can select multiple locations.
- Identify in which areas across the country a training provider delivers learning to apprentices. Using page three of the Power BI report, you can choose a training provider from the list and see how many learners they have across each region.
- Learn which apprenticeship programmes are delivered in your local area. Simply click on the map of England (page five of the report) to zoom into a specific location to see how many learners have started apprenticeships split by subject and level.
Richard Alberg, CEO of MWS, says: “This data, presented simply and visually, can help providers learn what are the growth areas and who the major competitors are in a specific area – meaning that it is significantly easier to understand demand and market gaps.”
“It really shows the potential of big data to help the training and apprenticeship sector learn about national and regional trends and sharpen their business planning.”
“We look forward to releasing more big data projects soon.”
You can find the Aptem Area Analysis Tool on this link.