Strategic Responses to Layoffs for Re-employment: Analyzing the Workforce

December 19, 2008 by Emsi Burning Glass

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3. Analyzing the Workforce and Re-employment

Now we’ll walk through how you can use data to transition workers into other compatible occupations.  For the sake of simplicity, we will use job losses recorded under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications (WARNs) issued for north central Ohio since 2006.  Some WARN notices list specific job titles, and many give the total number of workers being laid off.  However, in many cases WARN notices and other layoff announcements do not identify specific occupation data.  In order to get around this you can use regionalized staffing patterns.  In this case we used the Economic Forecaster module to quickly derive staffing patterns, which are used to understand what jobs might be lost.

Once the occupations have been identified we can use O*NET occupation definitions  to determine how workers can switch to new careers while carrying over the maximum amount of their current skills.  In this case we used EMSI’s Career Pathways module, which blends O*NET data with labor market data to rank the relative compatibility of occupations. The goal is to pinpoint the top occupations that have similar knowledge, skills, and abilities, and are therefore the best candidates for career transition.

A Quick Word About O*NET

The value of the O*NET data, as it is implemented in EMSI’s Career Pathways tool, is that you can:

1.    Quickly see compatible knowledge and skill sets (competencies) for the top occupations most impacted by job losses,
2.    Generate suggested transition areas based on the availability of work in other industries employing workers in the same occupational category (e.g. a team assembler moving from the household appliance industry to the wood product industry),
3.    Understand if the wages of the compatible occupations are competitive,
4.    Understand if the educational attainment of the compatible occupations are above, below, or equal to the occupation they currently have. This will indicate what training would be needed to take on the new occupation.

The following example illustrates how this works.

Example of Worker Transition Analysis

In this example we look at how Team assemblers are projected to change in north central Ohio and where potential dislocated workers can be re-employed.

Occupation: Team assemblers (SOC 51-2092)

O*Net definition: Work as part of a team having responsibility for assembling an entire product or component of a product. Team assemblers can perform all tasks conducted by the team in the assembly process and rotate through all or most of them rather than being assigned to a specific task on a permanent basis. May participate in making management decisions affecting the work. Team leaders who work as part of the team should be included.

Alternative Job Titles: Assembler, Assembly Line Machine Operator, Assembly Operator, Assembly Line Worker, Assembly Associate, Certified Composites Technician (CCT), Operator Technician, Production Line Worker, Assembly Inspector, Assembly Technician

Overview

According to WARN notices, 110 Team assemblers were laid off in this region from 2006 and 2007. Prior to notification, the Team assembler occupation had been projected to need 51 new and 721 replacement positions between 2007 and 2012, which indicates there may be other potential employment opportunities within this occupation. (Note the tremendous need for replacements over the new job creation.)

1. Industry Transitions

When trying to find new employment, the best place to start is to see if another industry has demand for the occupation.  Regional staffing patterns and industry projections show that other regional industries not only employ team assemblers, but they are also projected to add new positions. The following industries provide potential employment opportunities based on the fact that they also employ a lot of Team assemblers:

  • Agriculture, construction, and mining machinery manufacturing, NAICS 333100 (327 positions in 2007, projected to add 49 new positions by 2012);

  • Household appliance manufacturing, NAICS 335200 (1,111 positions in 2007, projected to add 116 new positions by 2012)

  • Other wood product manufacturing, NAICS 321900 (163 positions in 2007, projected to add 5 new positions by 2012).

2. Career Transitions

If none of the previous options work, or if more options are needed, you can look at different industries where team assemblers can be re-employed based on compatibility, demand, and earnings.

Option 1: Solderers and Brazers (51-4121.07)

This occupation employs 1,328 workers and is projected to require 223 new and replacement workers by 2012.  It also has an average wage of $18.32/hour, which is higher than team assemblers.  Employment in this occupation is projected to increase 6% by 2012, which is higher than the state average for this occupation.

Key knowledge and skill similarities include:
•    Intermediate levels of mechanical knowledge and production & processing knowledge
•    Intermediate levels of monitoring, quality control analysis and learning strategies and manual dexterity skills

The focus occupation may require additional training in these key knowledge and skill areas in order to make the transition:
•    Knowledge of computers & electronics, and English
•    Skills in reading comprehension and time management

Top host industries for this occupation are:
•    Agriculture, construction, and mining machinery manufacturing (NAICS 333100),
•    Motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing (NAICS 336200), and
•    Motor vehicle parts manufacturing (NAICS 336300).

Summary

This example immediately presents itself as a very viable option. The demand for more workers exists (223 new workers), the wages are better, and the jobs are very compatible.

Option 2: Sawing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Wood (51-7041.00)

This occupation employs 142 workers and will require up to 24 new and replacement workers by 2012.  It also has an average wage of $15.41/hour which is slightly less than team assemblers.  Employment in this occupation is projected to increase 7% by 2012, which is almost the same rate as the state.

Key knowledge and skill similarities include:
•    Intermediate levels of mathematics knowledge and production & processing knowledge.
•    Intermediate and advanced levels of quality control analysis skills, operation monitoring skills, and equipment selection skills.

The focus occupation may require additional training in these key knowledge and skill areas in order to make the transition:
•    mechanical knowledge,
•    repairing skills, and
•    equipment maintenance.

The top host industries for this occupation based on employment size and growth include
•    Other wood product manufacturing (321900),
•    Veneer, plywood, and engineered wood product manufacturing (321200), and
•    Household and institutional furniture manufacturing (337120).

Summary

Based on the wages, this option is not as good as the previous example. However, regionally wages can fluctuate quite a bit, so it would be good to run this analysis more locally to find how much these workers could actually make.

Option 3: Helpers—Production Workers (51-9198.00)

This occupation employs 1,964 workers and will require up to 283 new and replacement workers by 2012.  It also has an average wage of $14.38/hour, which is lower than team assemblers.  Employment in this occupation is projected to outpace the state, growing 2% by 2012.

Key knowledge and skill similarities include:
•    Intermediate levels of public safety & security, and English language knowledge.
•    Intermediate and advanced levels of equipment selection skills, learning strategy skills, and quality control analysis skills.

The top host industries for this occupation are:
•    Motor vehicle parts manufacturing (336300),
•    Converted paper product manufacturing (322200), and
•    Bakeries and tortilla manufacturing (311800).

Summary

This option is also not as good based on the wages, but could still provide good employment to interested workers.

More Resources

Read about how others are using this data in their own communities:

1. Dave Morris, Michigan Economic Development Corp.
2. Jeremy Minikel, Michican Works!