This July 2017 report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce highlights the ideal “Learning and Earning Exchange” or smart education and career guidance system to translate the wealth of existing data into useful information for student, worker, and business leader decision making. 

Pioneering states have assembled labor market and occupational information, employment projections, wage, and other data to connect college with careers in nascent smart systems. The report describes the types of data in - and the audiences for - the five types of web-based tools and provides examples of how each tool supports policy and decision making.  

The tools discussed are:

1. Education Projections, Business Expansion, and Workforce Quality tools help state economic development leaders attract and retain new employers with data demonstrating that the state postsecondary education and training systems can provide workers with the needed skills;

2. Program Alignment with Labor Market Demand tools help college administrators, faculty, and deans make program-related decisions that address labor market needs, while college and system administrators can demonstrate return on investment to state leaders;

3. Curriculum Alignment with Workforce Requirements tools helps faculty members create curricula aligned with the applied skills and abilities that learners will need to succeed in their careers;

4. Counseling and Career Pathways tools help advisors support students in their educational and career decisions, as well as identify and reach out to the learners who need additional support; and

5. Job Placement and Skills Gap Analysis tools help workers determine if and how the knowledge, skills, abilities, interests, and work values they possess are transferable to new jobs. These tools also help workers assess skill gaps and provide connections to postsecondary education and training options that can prepare them for a career change.

Major Findings & Recommendations

A coordinated statewide process to bridge the gulf between postsecondary education and workforce industry sectors is the key to revitalizing the education system as the gateway to economic opportunity.  The five tools form the beginning of a smart education and career guidance system that can:

  • help economic and workforce developers, businesses, and colleges reduce the high costs resulting from uninformed education and workforce decisions,
  • assist college leaders in making program-related decisions that take into account labor market needs;
  • ensure that postsecondary education and training programs strike a balance between learners' foundational knowledge and what they need to know and be able to do in the workplace,
  • enhance high school counseling and college advising to make the process of exploring, entering, and finishing college easier for learners, and
  • support workers’ understanding of how to take advantage of postsecondary education and training options as they change jobs and navigate their careers.