Using Data to Drive Employability

Over the past several years, there has been increasing pressure on higher education to prove that their students are employable that their college degree, and their investment in that degree has real-world value. Both government and students want to see a tangible result from their educational pursuits; namely a well-paying career.

At the same time, industry is crying for a better skilled workforce, one that has the skills that they need in order for industry to be productive and successful. With the rapid pace of change in the employment landscape – largely brought on by technology – educators have a constant struggle to keep their programs current and relevant to what the market needs.

At Pearson, we build our Employability Programs on four major constructs:

  1. Core academic competencies (reading, writing, mathematics and digital literacy)
  2. Occupational competencies
  3. Personal and social capabilities (interpersonal skills and qualities)
  4. Career knowledge and transition skills (ability to manage one’s career)

Industry is the driving force in determining the specific occupational competencies as well as the relevant personal and social capabilities for a given occupation. Why? They are the ones that hire the individuals. They know from first-hand experience what makes a successful employee in a given occupation better than anyone else. The struggle is where to find the data without surveying thousands of employers on a continual basis.

For this, Pearson uses Labor Market Information from Burning Glass. Burning Glass provides real-time labor market information directly from job postings from employers. What skills are they seeking? What certifications? What personal and social capabilities are employers looking for in the ideal candidate? Burning Glass scans over 20,000 job posting sites on a daily basis to analyze such data, and provides the information back in aggregate form. This enables educators to see exactly what employers are asking for in the job candidate, and thus to tailor their programs to develop these skills and competencies within their students.

By using data in this way – either from Burning Glass or from Wanted Analytics – educators can ensure that their students are learning and gaining mastery of the skills that employers are specifically requesting in job candidates. And Pearson, the world’s largest learning company, leverages this information in the development of its instructional and learning materials that colleges use. When everyone is operating from the same mindset of data-driven programs, the student is the primary winner.

I am excited to present this topic, along with Kelley Bailey from Burning Glass, during the session Where Industry Meets Academics: Using Real-Time Labor Data to Prepare Students for Success at the upcoming 2015 APSCU Annual Convention in Denver, CO on Thursday June 4, from 9:00-10 A.M. I invite you to share your perspectives on this engaging topic in the comment section below.


About the Author
Tom Darling

Tom Darling

Tom Darling, National Director of Workforce Education for Pearson, is responsible for developing the digital product strategy and development to meet the needs of the workforce both in North America and globally. Prior to joining Pearson, Tom served as the Executive Director of Workforce, Economic, and Community Development for Ivy Tech Community College – Central Indiana. Workforce and Economic Development provides services to employers on behalf of the College. These services include customized training, certification-based training, community education, career services, career counseling, internships, workforce certification testing center, and host for the Central Indiana Small Business Development Corporation.