The [JFF] typology is a useful start. … It’s clear enough that it could actually influence policy.

“Jobs, and Jobs”

Published feb. 18, 2021

Inside Higher Ed gave JFF Director Sara Lamback a rave review for her presentation at the Achieving the Dream (ATD) conference.

In a February 18 blog post, IHE columnist Matt Reed said Lamback’s presentation, “Locally Relevant Pathways,” discussed JFF research that “offered a really helpful way to make distinctions among jobs.”

The JFF project that Lamback discussed examined millions of resumes and traced the occupational paths of the people those resumes belonged to. The goal, as Reed explained it was to determine which skills and credentials correlated with which jobs, with a focus on “middle-skills” jobs, meaning jobs that require more than a high school diploma but don’t require a four-year degree.

He said “the real breakthrough” for him was that the research looked at occupational paths, as opposed to merely first jobs, and that it sorted middle-skill jobs into one of three categories: lifetime, springboard, or static.

He said creating a typology featuring multiple types of jobs is more helpful than simply reporting whether someone got a job—any job. A typology helps community colleges with limited resources make informed decisions when it comes to creating career-preparation programs.

“The typology is a useful start,” Reed wrote. “As simple as it is, it’s fairly easy to communicate. It’s clear enough that it could actually influence policy, and it’s empirically grounded enough that a serious person could use it in good faith.”