It is the question bedeviling community colleges, employers and workforce development programs around the country as it struggles to emerge from an historic and persistent economic downturn: Does the training that colleges are providing actually lead to job placements and careers?
Colleges long have worked with local employers and workforce development boards, crunching numbers, identifying trends and trying to align course offerings to meet the needs of their local labor markets/
But the efforts of colleges have been hampered by a lack of detailed, up-to-date information about the occupations, skills and credentials that are in immediate and long-term demand.
Now, under an initiative being spearheaded by Jobs for the Future, a Boston-based think tank that identifies, develops and promotes education and workforce strategies, a new tool for colleges is taking shape – computer technology that can mine, aggregate, and analyze real-time job market data available on the internet to identify important employment trends.
Called “Credentials That Work,” the initiative is rooted in new technologies that make it possible, for the first time, to collect and analyze real-time labor market data. Rather than relying on data that may be out of date and inaccurate, JFF says, new artificial intelligence technologies have the potential to transform how colleges align their training programs with the needs of the economy.
The initiative comes at a time when unemployment remains stuck at more than 9 percent, even as employers say they are having trouble finding qualified workers to fill skilled positions. That trend is expected to grow. By 2018, 70 percent of all jobs will require workers with some form of postsecondary credentials, according to forecasts. Read more.