Sizing the Middle-Skill Employment Gap: Significant Opportunities in Data, Information & Computing
Author(s): Boisvert, Deborah and Stephen, Bruce.
Organizational Author(s): BATEC and Monster Government Solutions
Funding source not identified
Resource Availability: Publicly available
Analyzes labor market data to estimate the middle-skill employment gap for data and information technology (IT) occupations nationally and in four cities; provides profiles of the wage and employment outlook for four data and IT job clusters; and draws conclusions about whether community colleges should prepare more graduates in each of these clusters and cities.
This resource, a quantification analysis written by a partnership of academics and industry leaders, aims to predict the middle-skill employment gap in select data and IT fields in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, and San Francisco between 2014 and 2019. The authors note that “the motivation for [the study] is [the] desire to begin a discussion about the underlying dynamics of middle-skill employment. This inaugural research report offers a quantified analysis of regional market needs and documents the preparation that candidates require for meaningful employment. There is an opportunity for industry and academia to work collaboratively to narrow the gap” (p.i).
“IT job growth is expected to continue to outpace the average job growth, for all jobs, through 2020. IT job growth and skill requirements are so robust that there is a significant need to expand the number of workers with appropriate skills for these positions. Many employers agree that a ‘skills gap’ exists and they expect this ‘skills gap’ will widen in the short-term. This report investigates and documents the dimensions of this gap in the areas of data, information and computing. [The authors] explored the legitimacy of the common assumption that job seekers need to possess a bachelor’s degree in order to satisfy the skill requirements of jobs in the IT profession. Using modeled economic data, [the authors] sized the employment opportunity available for skilled community college graduates…The occupations studied include:
• Computer Systems Analysts
• Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
• Web Developers
• Big Data Cluster” (p.1).
The resource uses labor market data, including nearly 80,000 job postings and information from the U.S. Department of Labor, to create employment models for the four occupation groups. “[The authors] use a variety of economic data to assess the quantitative alignment of workforce demand and educational readiness….This analysis, along with additional employment and wage data, and written analysis, are included with a profile of each of the four metro areas.
[The authors] created profiles of each of the four IT occupations. [They] used advanced data mining techniques and two analytics engines to yield rich, multi-level competency profiles that produced data aligned to current nationwide employer job requirements of the occupations studied” (p.2).
(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)
Major Findings & Recommendations
The authors report several broad, overall findings from the data. They note that “The data suggests that there are specific opportunities on both a national and a regional level for job seekers to obtain middle-skill entry points into IT careers…. Nationally, more than 296,000 persons are employed in middle-skill jobs in the occupations studied” (p.1).
The authors also report details about individual career clusters and regions and find the following patterns in their analysis:
“1. Economic modeling, at the national level, is not by itself sufficient.
2. Modeling at the regional level suggests that there is wide variance among opportunities for colleges to add graduates to the workforce for specific occupations.
3. The data suggest that educational institutions are already doing an adequate job of keeping pace with the demand for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians nationally and in each of the four metropolitan areas studied.
4. The data suggest that educational institutions are not on track to keep pace with the demand for Computer Systems Analysts, Web Developers, and each of the three occupations in the Big Data Cluster. The workforce demands in these field will be significantly underserved if the status quo is maintained.
5. The data suggest that the workforce demands for Computer Systems Analysts in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco will significantly outpace the rate of new graduates seeking employment in these same regional markets.
6. The data suggest that workforce demands for Web Developers in Boston, Las Vegas and San Francisco will outpace the rate of new graduates seeking employment in these same regional markets.
7. San Francisco and Boston are forecasted to have middle-skill employment gaps (workforce demands which are unsatisfied by the forecasted quantity of new graduates) in three of the occupations studied.
Use of the data in this study can help identify and address state and regional market needs, test the feasibility of new academic programs and prepare students for high-paying, high-demand jobs in IT and other sectors. [The authors] recommend using this report as a baseline for…convening key employers and regional educators to discuss entry level hiring needs and building the case for community colleges as a…talent pipeline for middle-skill talent” (p.2-3).
(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)