Press Release: Real-Time Labor Market Data To Help Colleges Align Curriculum to Needs of Regional Economies

Published sep. 19, 2011

BOSTON, MA (September 19, 2011) — Using new technologies that make it possible—for the first time—to collect up-to-date labor market information, JFF has launched a new initiative that will create the potential to transform how postsecondary institutions and systems align occupational training programs with the economy’s needs. The initiative—Credentials that Work—is funded by the Joyce Foundation and Lumina Foundation.

The availability of real-time labor market information is a recent development, and its use in the context of occupational training programs is just emerging. Credentials that Work is surveying and assessing the most promising applications of real-time technologies—existing and planned—in order to:

  • Determine what uses may better align postsecondary education offerings with the needs of employers;
  • Identify how these applications can augment the value of traditional sources of labor market information; and
  • Identify how state policy can encourage the wider use of these technologies.

The new intelligence technology being used by colleges, developed by Burning Glass Technologies, can aggregate and analyze online job ads and provide a more comprehensive, “real-time” source of information about the hiring and skill needs of local employers. These technologies make it possible to draw data from a larger and more recent pool than most traditional sources of labor market information. They can improve the understanding of hiring trends, employer demand, and skill requirements by drawing on current information and consistent signals from the labor market.

“If colleges expect to attract more students and graduate them prepared for sustainable careers, they must better align program offerings and course curricula to the needs of their local labor markets,” said John Dorrer, program director at JFF. “Decisions on which programs to offer and what to teach in class should correspond to employers’ immediate and ongoing demand for workers in a particular occupation or with a specific set of skills.”

The colleges in the Credentials that Work network began using the new technology this month. They are:

A thorough examination of the emerging role of real-time labor market data is presented in a new publication just released by JFF called, Aligning Community Colleges to their Local Labor Markets. Also, a Users Guide to Real-Time LMI is planned that will:

  • Review how early implementers are using real-time labor market data and systems;
  • Provide a systematic review of real-time LMI vendors and products most active in the market place; and
  • Review real-time LMI and its emerging role in complementing traditional federal economic and labor statistical systems.

Credentials that Work (CTW) incorporates innovations in real-time labor market data in guiding institutions to better align education and training investments with the needs of regional economies. Real-time data can help improve the understanding of hiring trends, employer demand, including certifications and skill requirements by drawing on current information and consistent signals from the labor market.

The Joyce Foundation supports efforts to protect the Great Lakes, to reduce poverty and violence in the region, and to ensure its residents have access to good schools, decent jobs, a strong democracy, and a diverse and thriving culture. Joyce’s Employment Program is supporting innovations in the region’s education and training system so that more adult workers get the skills they need to compete in the changing labor market.

Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based private foundation, is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college—especially 21st century students: low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners. Lumina’s goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina pursues this goal in three ways: by identifying and supporting effective practice, through public policy advocacy, and by using our communications and convening power to build public will for change.


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