How Higher Education can use Job Market Insights

January 28, 2022 by Remie Verougstraete

How Higher Education can use Job Market Insights

Lightcast recently released the 2022 Talent Playbook. It’s written to help employers understand growing occupations, in-demand skills, and other emerging trends in the labor market (like the rise of remote work and social impact roles). 

But it’s relevant for educators as well. As we’ve observed before, the labor market trends of today often shape the enrollment trends of tomorrow. By paying attention to the challenges employers are facing, and how they plan to adapt, you can help your institution stay ahead of the curve when it comes to building programs that attract learners and prepare them for the future of work.

To help you leverage this report, we’ve put together a brief “reader’s guide” that highlights three ways your institution can apply these insights (and labor market data in general).

3 ways to use the Playbook

1) Inform curriculum

The Playbook pulls back the curtain on national hiring trends and spotlights growing occupations and in-demand skills. With this data in hand, you can start asking (and answering) critical, strategic questions:

Graduates with road sign
  • “Are we teaching these in-demand skills? If not, should we be? Are they in-demand in our region and would teaching them align with our mission?”

  • “Are we preparing our graduates for emerging, high-growth occupations? Which local employers are hiring for those kinds of roles?”

  • “Which jobs offer the remote-friendly lifestyle many students and working adults are looking for? Are we equipping our learners to succeed in those jobs?”

Even for the non-degree occupations listed on page 7, consider if you can offer short-term, skill-specific credentials that help working adults reskill for those jobs. Aligning the skills you already teach with the skills employers seek can help you repurpose existing course content to meet demand for education in these emerging areas, as well as those where a full degree is a more common requirement.

2) Share with students

Many students lack the time and resources to do thorough career research on their own.  As we pointed out in “Educate to Enroll,” one way institutions can attract and serve learners, even at the earliest stages of engagement, is to help them clarify career goals first and then connect those goals to the right programs and courses. 

There are several ways you can approach this:

The University of Idaho uses an API to pipe career data directly into program pages
The University of Idaho uses an API to pipe career data directly into program pages

Speaking of career services — advisors and faculty may also want to check out the section on remote work (pages 9 – 13). It highlights the meteoric-if-unsurprising increase in postings for remote roles, but also shows that those opportunities are not evenly distributed across the economy. Some industries and occupations lend themselves to remote work more than others (and note the chart on page 11 which shows that the percentage of remote roles is significantly higher for jobs requiring a college degree than for those that do not). 

Given the preference many students and working adults have for remote work, this data can help advisors and faculty provide more holistic guidance, ensuring that students’ education and career goals align with their lifestyle preferences as well as their salary expectations.

If the flexibility of remote work is important to the populations you serve (either for health and safety reasons or simply as a lifestyle choice) career services professionals can use these insights to offer more holistic guidance that accounts for students’ goals in terms of quality of life, not just earnings.

3) Engage employers

In a tight labor market like the one we have now, it’s sometimes better for employers to train their existing workforce versus trying to hire (i.e. “buy”) talent from somewhere else (see tip on page 6). And when it comes to retaining current employees, providing growth and development opportunities is becoming a key strategy (see page 18).

It’s not surprising then to see the rise in postings that advertise a tuition-assistance benefit, especially in roles that do not require a degree (meaning these jobs could become a pathway to higher education for the individuals that take advantage of that benefit!)

Percentage of national job postings that advertise a tuition assistance benefit

As we highlighted in a recent article on employer engagement, agile institutions can use market data to position themselves as an education partner of choice. Employers get to lean on the institution’s expertise in areas like curriculum design, instructional technology, pedagogy, and assessment, while the institution gets a source of steady enrollment and a partner in ensuring positive career outcomes for graduates. Everybody wins!

See the whole iceberg

While the Talent Playbook is intended for employers, the data-rich insights it offers are just as valuable for educators interested in closing the gap between education and work. At the same time, national trends only represent the tip of the iceberg.


Go beneath the surface by requesting data specific to your region or institution with one of our free sample reports. Or, explore our guides and resources created for education professionals. As always, drop us a line if you have any questions or want to see more. We’re here to help!