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HPOG Blog: Job-Driven Training Checklist: Smart Choices

Published: June 11, 2015
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This blog post was published in the original HPOG Blog on October 22, 2014.

Data-Driven Tools Align Training With Market Demands

Using labor market data to strengthen training programs will ensure that job programs are more responsive to the needs of employers. The Smart Choices element of the Job-Driven Training Checklist calls for training providers to use labor market data to better align training programs to future job opportunities. The smart choices element also calls for providing labor market data to job seekers that includes the number and types of jobs available, the projected regional growth, specific job characteristics, skill requirements and career opportunities. Overall, smart choices works to incorporate promising strategies that are beneficial to students and job seekers, education and training providers, and area employers.

In-demand skills and job opportunities evolve as our economy and technology changes. Making labor market data available at all levels allows individuals, employers, and taxpayers to realize higher returns on training investments. Thus, participants have information readily available to make a smart choice in selecting training programs.

The Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Development Consortium in New York, an HPOG grantee, applies smart choice practices to be responsive to the needs of employers and local economic conditions. Prior to applying for the grant, the consortium surveyed local healthcare employers to determine its workforce needs. Based on the results of the survey, it offered training programs for six occupations.

Later the consortium reduced some occupations while adding some new ones because of information learned at local roundtable meetings with employers. These meetings provided an opportunity to learn not only what occupations were in demand, but also what expectations employers had for workers in those positions. By having labor market information for the specific geographical area, the consortium was able to tailor programs to prepare students for jobs that are in demand.

Other HPOG grantees have employed similar strategies. The Full Employment Council (FEC), is a business-led, private nonprofit organization that provides skills training and employment services to the unemployed and underemployed residents of the Greater Kansas City area. FEC uses real-time information from local employers to help participants make informed choices about choosing education and training programs.

FEC calls its training strategy the "Just-In-Time" approach, which refers to how the training is customized to meet an employer's immediate workforce needs. FEC uses labor market information and real-time workforce intelligence drawn from surveys of local employers to identify the most appropriate training courses to enroll clients in or to develop.

A panel of employers then creates a menu of training options for program participants that are most likely to meet real-time job openings. This training menu covers a wide variety of healthcare occupations by utilizing all local community colleges, vocational schools, and 4-year institutions. Programs on the menu have lengths ranging from 6 weeks to 24 months and lead to a variety of credentials. The strategy is designed to be as market sensitive as possible to ensure high rates of rapid successful job placements. Participants are able to make smart choices for their next career step taking into account their own interests, the length of training and the characteristics of the job.

If you are looking for resources on labor market data, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program and Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) contain commonly used labor market indicators. If you would like to learn more about the Buffalo and Eric County Workforce Development Consortium, The Full Employment Council and other HPOG grantees, please visit our Map of HPOG Grantees.

Last Reviewed: May 14, 2019