Through the Lens of Skills

Seeing a Regional Economy Differently

Published on Jun 21, 2022

Updated on Jun 16, 2023

Written by Drew Repp

woman photographer skills

A perspective is one point of view. A valley looks one way when standing on its floor; much different when standing on a nearby mountain top. Most often our perspective of a regional economy is formed by its industry and occupation mix, the wages of each, GDP, and other standard economic metrics. But one of the great powers of data is that it unlocks different ways of seeing things.

When it comes to the labor market and workforce development, the emergence of skills data provides another perspective. This different perspective is centered on the reality that a person’s skills can be used in multiple industries and various roles. Especially with reskilling or additional training. Thus, when we conduct regional skills analysis, our career area of Business and Finance represents not the employment within industries such as banking and financial advising, but all the different types of jobs requiring business and finance skills—financial accountants, logistics analysts, and human resource representatives to name a few—irrespective of industry.

But this isn’t to say NAICS and other traditional labor market information (LMI) is no longer useful. If LMI is the valley floor, when such data is overlaid with skills, it’s then like seeing that same valley from the mountaintop. In the below table, median salary and jobs (LMI), along with demographic information, is categorized by skill career areas in the Tampa Bay MSA.

A step further. What is the true nature of our regional talent? Because skills are transferable across industries and roles, only looking at workers within industries (NAICS) or occupations (SOCs) doesn’t capture a region’s talent makeup. By looking from a skills perspective, talent gaps and surpluses emerge that likely look different from a purely LMI view. 

Another view of the above career areas in Tampa Bay, this time again incorporating median salary information.

In order to meet workforce challenges, particularly the unique challenges of technology disruption, globalization, and the impacts of COVID, new approaches are needed. But new approaches start with first examining and understanding a region’s labor market in a different way. A regional skills analysis provides this new way. Since industries are driven by the talent that fuels them, a skills analysis tells a community what is actually going into the fuel tank.

Interested in examining your region through the lens of skills?