No academic discipline is more centered around a student’s future career prospects than CTE, so labor market data is essential to a CTE educator’s success. One cannot help a student pick the right career without first knowing the shape of the workforce that student will enter. Yet the world of labor data is confusing. Numbers are presented without context, and few guides exist that help use this information to shape their classrooms and schools.
Here are three key ways that labor market data can help your students:
First, labor data can help your course offerings and career paths remain relevant. Any CTE program must prepare students for careers where consistent employment will be available. Good labor data projects the number of jobs in specific occupations that will be available when your students graduate high school. When you advise your students, you can use that data to help them choose paths that will lead to future success. You can also evaluate how well your programs match the future demand for workers when you make decisions about whether to add, expand, or eliminate a program.
Second, labor data can help you introduce a new skill to your students. Chmura’s JobsEQ software pulls in and deduplicates jobs postings data from over 4,000 sources each day so you can discover which certifications, hard skills, and soft skills are most in demand in today’s labor market. In Chmura’s home state of Virginia, one of the ten most in-demand hard skills is Agile project management. Some educators are already providing a blueprint for how to take Agile out of software development and into the classroom, and the type of project-based work that most CTE disciplines tackle is ideal for Agile’s practices. Of course, the skills that employers require in your region are different. When you see job postings data from your region, you can identify the skills your students need and design classroom activities that incorporate them.
Third, wage data can help your students live “the good life.” The New Horizons Regional Education Centers in Hampton, Virginia has done admirable work to understand what students want out of a career so that it can match them with a good fit for a first job. Executive Director Casey Roberts says that most students want to know whether a job can provide them “the good life,” whether a career can lead to, say, a nicer car, a good home, or a higher overall quality of life. When Roberts’ students perceive that a job offers them such opportunities, they are more likely to stay in that job long after graduation. To help your students lead “the good life,” wage data is essential. You should be able to show your students how much they will make in different careers whether they stay in your region or work anywhere in the United States. Detailed wage data can show your students what they can expect to make both in their first job out of school and in the middle of their careers.
Dr. Bryan Shelly is the Senior Strategist for Talent & Education for Chmura Economics and Analytics, a company that assists schools with labor market data, Perkins V, and other research-related services. Prior to joining Chmura, Bryan was an administrator for Chesterfield County Public School and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and an assistant professor at Wake Forest University.