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Connecting the Fuzzy Dots

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

Yustina Saleh, Ph.D - Chief Scientist

September 8, 2021

Connecting the Fuzzy Dots – Getting People Back to Work

In my past, I have gone from state level workforce agencies to working for the leading Labor Market Information (LMI) firms to the most advanced talent analytics firms. Along the way, I have been able to survey the labor data, skills data, and talent schemes, as well as college career and technical offerings. Yet, I know something is missing in how we source employees, how individuals find work, and how employers build strong enterprises. What follows are a few reflections on the past and thoughts about the future of linking people, training, and jobs.

Addressing “Employee Dropouts”

Dropout culture appears to have jumped the education-employment barrier.

The pandemic led to the worst U.S. recession in history; today millions of people are unemployed. At the same time, millions of people are quitting their jobs, making the labor shortage crisis more acute than ever. In April alone, a record 4 million people quit their jobs according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. But instead of finding ways to retain and up/re-skill their own staff, these employers continue to look outside their four walls for talent that are lower in terms of talent, credentials, and experience than their own, but are ready to offer them significant premiums.

Paradoxically, we all know someone, or actually many, who lost their job due to COVID19.

Education Technology has been booming, but skepticism about the value of learning and education have also been on the rise, along with lower enrollments and retention rates.

Likewise, employers are now more than ever emphasizing employee preferences and exceptional employee experience, however, the tools implemented on those fronts only do lip service to connecting the skills and preferences of the employee to the overall mission of the strategy of the enterprise, and the learning journey is completely divorced from both. From a policy perspective, most of the training programs sponsored by workforce development resources are focused on occupations that were most impacted by the pandemic, or occupations that have completely changed. There has got to be another way. In fact, I have touched on this other way with my own “data fingers.”

Changing the Unit from Occupations to Skill Shapes

Over the last two decades, I have been on a quest for the building blocks for a whole new work paradigm. We need to have a continuous and synthesized dialogue between external labor market information in all its forms (unemployment, employment, employment projections, labor turnover, separations, job demand, labor supply, education, and training) at the skill level.

Employers will need to benchmark their own performance and talent against the industry and quickly detect emerging skills, opportunities, and risks as they are evolving.

They also need to be able to run informed simulation analyses for capitalizing on these risks and opportunities, be able to quickly do scenario analyses, and then operationalize the strategy and plan into transparent options that are visible to the opportunity seeker in a completely connected, social, and optimized opportunity landscape.

Too Many Tools, Too Few Solutions

Throughout my career, I have seen so many tools built claiming to put the opportunity seeker at the center, but these tools were very often akin to blind shooting. I also saw companies spend millions of dollars on consulting enterprises to build strategic workforce plans, but these often turned out to be pretty charts that do not result in concrete changes on the ground. There has got to be another way. The data infrastructure for a new work paradigm already exists, we need to connect the dots and make it happen.

Up Next: Where It All Began. I will share with you the beginning of my journey into workforce development, and how the sheer size and impact of the Great Recession pushed me to put aside all conventional wisdom in labor market information and explore a new, perhaps a little blasphemous, route.

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