Investigating the supply and demand relationship in a profession: the English and Welsh schools of librarianship and information Studies and the Higher Education Library and Information Services employment sector in England and Wales.
Concern has been expressed in the professional literature - borne out by professional experience and observation - that the supply and demand relationship existing between the 13 English and Welsh Library and Information Studies (LIS) Schools (as providers of `First Professional' staff) and the Higher Education Library and Information Services (HE LIS) sector of England and Wales (as one group of employers of such staff) is unsatisfactory and needs attention. An appropriate methodology to investigate this problem was devised. A basic content analysis of Schools' curricular and recruitment material intended for public consumption was undertaken to establish an overview of the LIS initial professional education system in England and Wales, and to identify and analyse any covert messages imparted to readers. This was followed by a mix of Main Questionnaires and Semi-Structured Interviews with appropriate populations. The investigation revealed some serious areas of dissatisfaction by the HE LIS Chiefs with the role and function of the Schools. Considerable divergence of views emerged on the state of the working relationships between the two sectors and on the Schools' successes in meeting the needs of the HE LIS sector and on CPD provision. There were, however, areas of substantial and consistent agreement between the two sectors. The main implications of the findings were that those areas encompassing divergence of views were worrying and needed addressing by both sides. Possible ways forward included recommendations on improving the image of the profession purveyed by the Schools; the forming of closer and more effective inter-sectoral relationships; recognising fully the importance of `practicum' and increasing and sustaining the network of `practicum' providers.