Defining the UK information worker: the CILIP/ARA Workforce Mapping Project #lib_research17

Senator William McMaster, founder of McMaster University

William McMaster

Yesterday I delivered a presentation about social media research undertaken by staff and students within the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University (slides available on SildeShare) at McMaster University.

Today I am returning to campus to contribute to the McMaster Library Research Symposium 2017.

At this event I will be relating the main findings of the CILIP/ARA Workforce Mapping Project completed in 2014/15, and the impact of the work to date. The slides for my presentation are available on SlideShare, and below.

In the presentation I will first explain the purpose of the research: to enhance the understanding of the UK’s workforce in Library, Archives, Records, Information, Knowledge Management, and related professional roles. Then I will introduce the project team – myself, Christine Irving and Dr Bruce Ryan of the Centre for Social Informatics, and Professor Robert Raeside, Dr Matthew Dutton and Dr Tao Chen of Edinburgh Napier’s Employment Research Institute – and outline the two main project phases of this ‘ambitious project’.

I will then draw attention to some of the main findings from the analysis of data supplied in 9,103 usable survey returns:

  • The estimated population of information workers is 86,376 people, 21.6% of whom work in higher education, and 12.6% in public libraries, and 59.4% in libraries
  • The majority of the workforce works in England, with high proportion in London (22.6%) and the south east (19.4%)
  • The nation with the highest proportion of senior roles is England (8%, as opposed to 7.5% in Wales, 7.3%, and 3% in Northern Ireland)
  • The workforce is well qualified: 61.4% hold postgraduate qualifications (and 57.2% hold professional qualifications, and 53.6% hold professional memberships)
  • When compared with the general working population information workers appear to be well paid – but this conclusion need to be treated with caution given that this workforce is highly qualified, and there is evidence of long service and low pay
  • The highest earners are professionally qualified men, who hold professional memberships, work in Records, Information and Knowledge Management, and are based in commerce, business, higher education, national libraries, and law
  • The workforce is dominated by women (78.1%) – yet women earn less than men, and are less likely to hold senior roles
  • There is low ethnic diversity in the workforce: 96.7% identified as ‘white’ (the UK figure as a whole at the time of the study was 87.5%)
  • The workforce is ageing: 55.3% is over 45 years of age (the UK figure as a whole at the time of the study was 41.1%)

In the second part of the presentation I will consider the impact of the project. Initial press interest in the findings focussed on the issues of (1) low ethnic diversity and (2) the gender pay gap. The media also noted CILIP’s call for a National Library and Skills Strategy, which was made at the time of the project launch.

Not long after the completion of the project, in March 2016, its findings contributed to a Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) consultation on the future of public libraries, with a commitment to a Public Library Skills Strategy. Such a strategy was published last month in July 2017. A further ‘external’ impact of the work has been the impetus for additional research in the domain, such as a Masters study on the reception of the project findings related to diversity.

CILIP has used the project findings internally for a number of purposes:

  1. Policy development, for example to inform its business plan and targets for growth, its Workforce Development Strategy, and its Equalities and Diversity Action Plan
  2. Marketing in general, for example some project data is now included in the standard slide deck that CILIP staff use in presentations
  3. Marketing of membership and qualifications, for example the project data has informed decisions on regions and sectors to target

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