Jobs for the Future

TSTC Partners with “Credentials That Work”

Credentials that Work” is based on the premise that the value of education is enhanced if it includes the skills employers need and it is validated by credentials employers recognize. The initiative assists states and regions in aligning their education and training investments with the dynamic demands of the labor market—the skills currently in demand by employers and those projected for the near future. Texas State Technical College has joined this initiative in order to enhance the employability and quality placement of our students. The goal is to utilize innovations in the collection and use of real-time labor market information to better align investments in education and training with the needs of the economy.

The initiative is rooted in new technologies that make it possible—for the first time—to collect up-to-date labor market information. Instead of using data that may be months or years out of date, “real-time” technologies create the potential to transform how postsecondary institutions and systems align occupational training programs with the economy’s needs.

At the core of these innovations are:

  • Advanced capacities for mining data on available and projected job openings; and
  • Artificial intelligence software that aggregates this information.

These technologies make it possible to draw data from a larger and more recent pool than most traditional sources of labor market information. They can improve the understanding of hiring trends, employer demand, and skill requirements by drawing on current information and consistent signals from the labor market.

The availability of real-time labor market information is a recent development, and its use in the context of occupational training programs is just emerging. Most applications for these data remain untested—and their limitations are similarly just being studied. Nevertheless, private-sector companies providing real-time data are in demand, and increasing numbers of states, education systems and institutions, and workforce development agencies are using such information.

“Credentials that Work” is surveying and assessing the most promising applications of real-time technologies—existing and planned—in order to:

  • Determine what uses may better align postsecondary education offerings with the needs of employers;
  • Identify how these applications can augment the value of traditional sources of labor market information; and
  • Identify how state policy can encourage the wider use of these technologies.

The research and resulting publications will emphasize collaborations between traditional data producers (e.g., state agencies that collect labor market information) and data users (e.g., community colleges and other providers of occupational training).

Value-Added, Outcomes-Focused

TSTC has adopted a new performance-based funding model where state funding is be based primarily on the earnings of students rather than enrollment and contact hours. This is the primary driver for TSTC’s interest in real-time labor analytics. TSTC is currently utilizing realtime LMI tools from vendors like Wanted Analytics, EMSI, and others.

TSTC is working to refine and integrate these tools and new procedures into our operations to: a) strengthen placement; b) add fidelity to curriculum alignment; and c) forecast emerging employer demand. Real-time labor analytics can provide unique insights into which employers are actively hiring, which skills are in high demand, the location of job demand, educational requirements, associated pay, and comparisons across many additional metrics. In addition to placement, these tools can also be used to: identify and recruit employer partners for advisory committees; resource development; grants; data mining of resumes; and comparisons of skills between resumes, job postings, and curriculum.