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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.