Emsi economist Dr. Aaron Olanie recently hosted a webinar with Alex Lowrie, senior director for program innovation at UC Davis Extension.
Lowrie gave a valuable behind-the-scenes look at how he uses labor market data to evaluate program proposals aimed at career advancers. In particular, he highlighted the importance of going beyond job postings by looking at alumni profiles to understand skill gaps in the current workforce. He finished by demonstrating how he uses Emsi’s Analyst and Profile Analytics to do this research efficiently, using a Data Visualization program proposal as an example.
This was the second presentation in Emsi’s UPCEA webinar series. See the full recording below and check out a recap of the first UPCEA webinar with Adam Fein of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Job postings are a good way to gauge potential demand for programs aimed at career changers. But for programs aimed at workers that want to upskill so they can progress in their current career, you should also look at the number of people currently in a given occupation who would benefit from a targeted skills increase. This population is a better proxy for career advancer program demand.
When conducting labor market research, toggle your search area to compare and contrast regional and national data. A national scale can provide a larger sample size and help you identify key trends and terms. But it’s good to then take those insights and search a more restricted geography to get the most relevant data for your service area.
Think critically and stay flexible with your search terms. During the Data Visualization program example, Lowrie discovered that “Tableau” was a more effective search term than the actual phrase “data visualization” when it came to researching job posting demand and alumni profile supply for that skill.
Lowrie, commenting on the biggest difference Emsi data has made in UC Davis’s work, said: “It’s made us a lot more efficient. We used to spend a lot of time slicing and dicing data to try and get at some of the findings that are presented in one report now.”
On the importance of having alumni profile data in addition to job postings, Lowrie said: “We were missing a whole view of the market that we just weren’t studying.” Lowrie said his team used to “agonize over jobs data” only to discover that job postings represented a mere fraction of the total market for their continuing and professional education programs. Now, they analyze alumni profiles as well to get a more complete picture.