Training asset maps: projecting regional workforce needs.

Author:Holland, Brian

Many phrases are used interchangeably to describe workforce development. While some are familiar with the term "training and development," others use "education and employment" to describe talent development efforts. But these abbreviated characterizations understate everything workforce development actually entails.

Workforce development has much larger implications. It involves a set of interrelated ecosystems and relationships among private employers, educational entities, and government--all of which work collaboratively to support job seekers through recruitment, assessment, training, and employment. Workforce development suggests an ongoing need for learning: helping workers adapt to evolving technologies or business operations, and ensuring that skill sets do not become obsolete.

Publicly-supported workforce development presents a different set of long-term challenges, including increased recognition of the "talent imperative" in a global economy. This talent imperative suggests that an upgrade of skills can raise the competitive advantage of a local region. In turn, this skilled workforce becomes a determining factor when firms or industries choose where to locate their site operations.

To be sure, government wants to be a catalyst for real-time job creation and retention. The public sector can make a bigger impact, though, by building the human capital infrastructure that private-sector employers use to address future labor market needs. Training asset maps are an integral component to building this human capital infrastructure.

Creating Asset Maps

Training asset maps catalog human capital investments made within a geographic region. These inventories create a "supply side" portrayal of available skilled workers in a specific labor market.

Training asset maps list programs that confer a certificate, industry-based credential, or degree upon completion by all public and private training entities, whether accredited or unaccredited. Table 1 illustrates the tabular format of a training asset map. Asset maps feature key education-related variables:

* names and contact information for post-secondary education institutions, independent training suppliers, corporate-led training universities

* course(s) of study

* duration for the course(s)

* tuition costs

* outcome for the training participant, such as an industry-recognized credential or formal degree

* number of students enrolled for each course of study.

Analyzing Asset Maps

The value-added proposition of training asset maps is that local leaders can juxtapose data against real-time and projected labor market needs, which are typically calculated by a state or local government's economic or workforce development agency.

Let's consider a regional labor market in Florida. Data from its training asset map identifies significant job growth in the healthcare sector. However, this labor market analysis can present a far more comprehensive picture than that of a single industry. The same data source also forecasts at a granular level the growth and decline of precise occupational areas, identified by Standard Occupational Codes (SOCs).

Table 2 presents an abbreviated labor market forecast in this industry for this region. In this type of labor market analysis, local regions can more precisely assess, from an economic development perspective, what it actually does rather than what it produces.

Local officials can align labor...

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