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Perkins V: Labor Market Information Suggests Winning Pathways

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

One of the goals of the Strengthening CTE for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) is to ensure that local decisions about CTE programs align with labor market needs. As a state, we want to invest in quality CTE pathways that are most likely to lead to family-sustaining careers for our students. This is why analyzing labor market information (LMI) is critical in conducting your comprehensive local needs assessment (CLNA), which must be done prior to starting the Perkins application.

Local pathways need to reflect in-demand industries, in other words industries that will provide more than the average number of jobs in the future. In addition, these industries should have job opportunities at multiple skill levels, or careers that span entry level through professional level jobs. After all, a pathway that only offers low-paying, low-skill, entry-level jobs will not offer the career advancement that students need.

Let’s look at the first question you need to consider in addressing this topic:

What industry sectors are projected to grow the most in our local area as well as in the state?

When we look at labor market information, such as employment projections and emerging occupations, we can evaluate which CTE program areas in our state and in your local region are projected to offer the most career opportunities.

The good news is that as a state, we’ve already dissected labor market information. The Department of Workforce Development has provided data on the following industries in order to create State Endorsed Regional Career Pathways:

  • Healthcare - specifically in therapeutic and diagnostic services
  • Construction
  • Advanced manufacturing, and
  • Information technology

Therefore, you are not required to review labor market information for any of these industries, even if you are not in an area of the state that is offering these State Endorsed Regional Career Pathways quite yet. We know these pathways are in demand and will have good job opportunities at multiple skill levels.

For other industries, when we look at projected industry growth, it is crucial to consider both new jobs and jobs that will be unfilled because people are retiring or moving to different industries. We can see, for example, that manufacturing will produce relatively few new jobs, but a large percentage of their workforce is retiring over the next 5 to 10 years and will create huge job demand.

In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, DPI has created state and regional reports that will provide industry projections for each of the 16 career clusters. These reports will tell you if growth in the cluster is increasing or decreasing relative to other clusters. It will also highlight top job categories, such as those that:

  • are projected to have the most newly created jobs,
  • are the fastest growing,
  • have the most annual job openings, and
  • have the top annual median wages.

The reports are posted on the DPI Labor Market Information page.

What are the emerging jobs for which we should be preparing students? What skills will they need in the future?

While traditional labor market information has its limitations in predicting the future, there are many reports out there that discuss future trends in specific industries. Some of these even predict how trends may impact the types of jobs available to students in the future and the skills they will need.

Trending information has already been collected for the State Endorsed Regional Career Pathways and can be accessed (by industry) from the Regional Career Pathways webpage. The Building Blocks highlight the academic and technical skills that employers report they will need for projected and emerging occupations.

In addition, our CTE consultants at the DPI are curating a list of industry reports for each CTE program area. Like the LMI reports we are creating, you will be able to find these on DPI’s Labor Market Information webpage.

Industry reports on emerging occupations can also be found on the websites for your local:

  • Regional Economic Development Organizations,
  • Workforce Development Boards,
  • Chambers of Commerce, and
  • Industry or trade associations

In particular, look for reports that discuss the skills that employers will need most. While future job titles can be hard to predict, employers can identify the skills needed for success. It’s critical to align CTE programs with these skills.

Answering the previous questions ahead of time will prepare your key stakeholder group to answer these key questions:

  • How do our CTE programs align with these industry projections and emerging occupations?
  • Are we teaching students the right skills?
  • Where are the biggest gaps?
  • How can we work with employers, postsecondary, and community partners in our region to fill these gaps?

For more information and resources on LMI, go the DPI’s Labor Market Information webpage, or refer to DPI’s Perkins V webpage for links to the Wisconsin Guide for Conducting the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment as well as a webcast series on various Perkins V topics.