Using data to get workers on pathways to in-demand careers

To effectively accelerate workforce development initiatives, funding must target the areas of largest possible impact. Whether its students investing in their own education or the millions in stimulus dollars supporting reskilling programs, the key to maximizing the value of those dollars is data.

Enter: Data’s central problem.  

Data is often thrown around as a cure-all, that business and policy problems are simply one data point away from a clearly defined solution. Reality is often less glamorous. Data is ugly, it comes in a wide range of formats, file types, and schemas. We are swimming in oceans of data and need to be careful not to be “boil the ocean” to get quick, broad results, rather than precise ones. Organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies all have access to billions of data points but can’t effectively translate them into to meaningful insights. To get efficiently get workers on pathways to in-demand careers, that needs to change.

Before we dive in – let’s take a quick run through 5 of the biggest impacts data can have on workforce development.
  • 1. Accurately forecasting job demand
  • The more data points – the more accurate the forecast
  • 2. Efficiently allocating funds to programs
  • When demand is accurately forecasted, funds can be distributed in the places they can make the most impact.
  • 3. Optimize job applicant and program participant matching
  • Centralizing data bridges the gap between those seeking reskilling and employers looking for those new skills.
  • 4. Addressing the skills gap
  • The sum of these efforts means that workers find pathways to in-demand careers, accelerating placement in positions that are heavily impacted by the skills gap.
  • 5. Establishing clear pathways to learn and improve programs and infrastructure.
  • More useful data means more opportunities to measure success, learn, and adjust.

Now that we’ve established the value of data – here’s how we can maximize that value and use it to get workers on pathways to in-demand careers.

Build Data Infrastructure

The first step to maximizing the value of data is to ensure that effective infrastructure exists to store it. Creating a centralized data warehouse to store and share data across all parties involved in workforce efforts provides each party access to data they specifically need to inform their decision-making process. Building good infrastructure offers even more value than that – effectively designed data warehouses allow organizations and programs to manage inputs and outputs. New inputs provide each stakeholder the ability to add new data sources over time. Another key focus for data infrastructure is security and anonymity – avoiding privacy concerns for jobseekers, complying with existing regulations, and protecting trade and market information is absolutely crucial towards maximizing participation in large data projects.

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Collaborate & Standardize

Workforce data comes from countless sources and in countless formats. Central to fivestar*’s work  developing systems to coordinate and centralize workforce data - getting it right takes effort but the benefits are clear. More collaboration means everyone gets access to more data, which directly leads to better decision making.

Get buy in and participation from all parties invested in getting workers on pathways to in-demand careers. More collaboration means more data points, which means more accurate job forecasting that leads to data informed decision making.


Data informed decision-making benefits everyone

Data is the central ingredient to creating a virtuous cycle to support jobseekers. Data can be used to forecast demand to shape policy and program decisions. Programs are built around those decisions, and from there, jobseekers can be given a clear path to an in-demand career. It doesn’t end there, by sharing data organizations looking for workers can shape how resources are allocated in the future and ensure that their future applicant pool has the skills they need to fill positions.

The opportunity extends beyond the long-term. Positions with large gaps between openings and applicant pool can make use of alternative forms of skills development to get workers in the door now or easily adjust requirements based on knowledge of the specific skills required to get started.

Data is already showing us that more and more organizations are preferring a skills based approach to hiring, but that infrastructure to evaluate fit based on those skills is lacking. The more knowledge and insights all parties have into the process, the better programs can be constructed to support reskilling efforts to match current jobseekers with open positions.

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The Future of Data in Workforce Development

Data in its current form is not the singular solution to the problems our workforce faces. For data to provide all of the benefits we know it can, we need to build a better data infrastructure to place collaboration at the forefront. To get workers on pathways to in-demand careers, systems need to be established that make it easy to anonymize, share, and use data to make better decisions. Access to centralized data can optimize the skills gap solution from identification through placement and ongoing skills development. With effective systems in place, programs can be tailored to forecasted need and the skills gap can be addressed.


fivestar* and workforce development

With 20+ years of experience, fivestar* develops custom web and software solutions that centralize workflows, optimize processes, and enable decision-making through real-time data and business intelligence for clients in a wide range of industries. fivestar* is heavily involved in Industry 4.0 workforce development and education initiatives that help prepare individuals and organizations for the future of work through the intelligent use of technology. Working with regional and national partners, fivestar* has developed solutions that connect students, workers, adult learners, and veterans with re-skilling and career pathway opportunities.

Interested in working with us on a project? Let's chat.