Who Cares About Workforce Data?
What Is Workforce Data?
There are several types of data that are important for understanding workforce development policies and programs. All individual-level data is kept in secure systems that protect privacy and limit access. It can be combined to create aggregate data that does not disclose details about individuals, but is useful in assessing program performance.
- Education data. Schools at all levels, from preschool to college, keep records about individual students to track enrollment and student progress.
- Workforce program data. There are many programs to help workers find employment or build skills. They include career and technical education, adult education, Workforce Investment Act programs for adults, youth and dislocated workers, Employment Service, and Trade Adjustment Assistance. These programs collect data on individual participants.
- Public benefits data. Several programs provide both income support and training assistance to people who are unemployed or earn low incomes. These include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) which is commonly known as food stamps. Providers maintain data systems about individuals to measure program eligibility, the duration and amount of benefits, and types of services received.
- Employment data. Basic information on the employment status and earnings of individuals is contained in wage records. Quarterly wage records maintained by state unemployment agencies are a common source of this data.
- Labor Market Information. Statistics about workers, employment, industry, and occupational projections describe labor markets at the local, state, and national levels, providing a picture of current and future job openings and their skill requirements.
Why Workforce Data Matters
We all care about putting our nation on a path toward economic growth and shared prosperity. A brighter future requires education and training policies that prepare all Americans for a skilled workforce and help our industries compete in a changing economy.
Inclusive, aligned and market-relevant education and workforce data systems are the foundation for determining if our human capital strategy is up to that challenge.
We need federal and state sponsored data systems that will provide useful information to:
- Students and workers trying to figure out which colleges and training programs are best at helping people land a job, continue their studies, or advance in the labor market.
- Policymakers who need to know whether education and workforce programs are preparing people for good jobs.
- Business leaders struggling to find skilled workers and wondering whether education and training programs are preparing enough prospective employees to meet their companies' needs.
- Educators at schools, training programs, adult literacy organizations, or career and technical education programs who want to know the long-term education and employment outcomes of their graduates so they can continually improve courses and curricula.