Using Labor Market Data to Select a Target Pathway

18 A first step in developing a pathway model is selecting a target pathway. To select pathways that are in fields with sufficient demand, family-supporting wages, and room for advancement, the design team needs to conduct an analysis of labor market trends, including the identification or confirmation of the growth industries and occupations in the state that pay a family-supporting wage and that have career advancement ladders that start with less than a two-year degree.

This analysis must include occupational growth projections, demographics, and other dynamic data, including data on credential completion. It is important to validate this analysis with employers to ensure true alignment with labor market needs.

Using the data garnered through this process, identify at least two career pathways to build out. Determine whether health care, advanced manufacturing, construction, wind energy, or other sectors are most important locally or are projected to grow significantly and create opportunities for family-supporting careers.

Possible approaches

Real Time Market Information | EMSI or similar labor market information software systems
State Bureau of Labor Market Information Employer Validation 

There are at least four ways to conduct the labor market analysis. We recommend using multiple approaches to get a more accurate sense of state trends. We also highly recommend employer validation (#4) to ensure your pathway designs truly meet the demands of the local labor market.

Use of Real Time Market Information

There are exciting and innovative developments underway in the availability and uses of labor market information to guide career and employment decisions, program development at community colleges, and curricula development for workforce development programs. CareerBuilder, a well-established and respected Internet jobs portal has joined a growing list of providers of real time labor market information with its new Supply and Demand Portal. CareerBuilder joins Burning Glass/EmployON, Monster, Wanted Technologies, HelpWanted Analytics and Geosol as a provider on real time labor market information drawing on the vast volumes of Internet job postings to provide a current picture of occupational and skill demands. CareerBuilder has released a list of hot areas where workers are in demand. CareerBuilder’s Supply & Demand portal is a tool that pulls data from national employment resources such as CareerBuilder.com, Wanted Analytics and EMSI (Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.), accessing more than 45 million jobs, 40 million resumes and 140 million worker profiles. Based on the number of available jobs and candidates, the portal identifies occupations and corresponding markets with the greatest supply and under-supply of candidates. The state may choose to invest in this approach and provide a summary for each of their selected pilot colleges.

Real-Time LMI Vendors

Use of EMSI or similar labor market information software systems

A state may choose to invest in EMSI or similar software and provide the analysis to the colleges, or if the colleges have the EMSI software or a similar software system, can feed that to the state to assemble in order to identify potential career pathways.

Use of State Bureau of Labor Market Information (LMI)

State higher education agencies could request modifications to standard LMI reports by providing the LMI staff with an example of a report generated by EMSI called Rank Career Clusters and Career Clusters. The data and information included in these reports is what the state and local areas really need to generate in order to validate the selection of viable career pathways.

Employer Validation

While the above three data approaches are needed and recommended, they are still considered secondary data sources. A primary data source is to go to the local employers directly. One of the best ways to ensure that growth industries are selected, and that specific occupations and the appropriate corresponding credentials are being attached to the education and training plan, is to validate the above career cluster reports with local employers. The state could assist each of the college campuses to convene a panel of employers to ensure the industry and occupations are in demand (no matter which software or LMI report a state uses, there is still significant lag time, which is the benefit of Career Builder or other real time systems). Online or phone surveys and/or collaboration with local WIBs or Chambers of Commerce can also provide the assistance to draw information from employers.