Labor Insight Case Study: Slippery Rock University

Real-Time Labor Market Data Creates Clear Paths to Career Success for Students

“Labor Insight provided us with some powerful data; data that makes parents, prospective students, and even matriculating students sit up and take notice.” John Rindy

Director, Office of Career Education and Development, Slippery Rock University

The Client

Slippery Rock University (SRU), located in western Pennsylvania, is a public, master’s-level university offering over 150 majors and minors at the undergraduate level, and more than 40 masters and doctoral degree programs to its nearly, 9,000 students.  The western Pennsylvania region is home to a large number of institutions of higher education and, in recent years, SRU leaders began to explore methods for emphasizing career development and readiness in their message to prospective and enrolled students; a powerful strategy that has continued to make them stand out against their competition, keeping enrollment rates high and ensuring career-ready graduates. Recognizing the importance of career outcomes to potential students and their parents, SRU positioned their Office of Career Education & Development to take an active role in the recruitment and orientation process of new students. This emphasized the importance of connecting academic goals to career outcomes while establishing a relationship with the school’s career coaches throughout the matriculation process.

The Challenge

Since the university’s career coaches played an active role throughout the student life cycle, they needed a way to understand and analyze the job market at a deeper level. Career coaches needed a real-time view of the specific jobs and skills that were in demand in their region, and how these changed over time. This view would help students discover local and national career options while helping them understand how to bridge their programs of study to hirable skills when they begin to look beyond graduation.

The Solution

SRU administrators decided to partner with Burning Glass Technologies who collects the most up-to-date resume and job description data from local and regional sources. Using their Labor Insight platform, SRU’s career coaches are provided with a user-friendly, real-time view of which jobs and skills are the most in demand in today’s labor market. The university had already involved career professionals in recruitment and orientation. With the addition of Labor Insight, career coaches could now make convincing, data-driven cases to students and parents on why and how SRU programs and career education team would confidently match students to the world of work. SRU improved student enrollment and career education engagement in part, by using Burning Glass’ labor market data throughout all three phases of a student’s learning cycle.

“These data also allow us to make a strong case for why we use a four-year-and-beyond ‘career education and development’ model and not an end-of-game ‘career service’ model. We use Labor Insight data to say to our prospects and new students: ‘Here is proof of what needs to go on, besides just going to class and doing well in your studies.” John Rindy

Director, Office of Career Education and Development, Slippery Rock University

Enrolling Prospective Students

High school students often have a difficult time deciding which career path to pursue. So SRU’s Office of Career Education and Development began accepting appointments with local high school students and their parents to discuss their future career paths. The coaches used Labor Insight’s data to educate students and their parents on the variety of career path opportunities available in today’s labor market based on the student’s interests, values, skills, personality, and the courses they could take at SRU.

Guiding Existing Students

Once a student gets to college, they need help understanding why certain skills are important to their eventual career success. SRU’s career coaches would sit with students to walk them through the local and regional job market to find potential career paths that were relevant to the student’s major and interests. Then, they went a layer deeper to understand which specific programs at SRU would give the students the right set of skills to set them up for long-term career success. For example, if a student wanted to know if they should minor in Information Science or Finance, Labor Insight could show them which specialized skills in those fields were in high demand among employers, as well as identify new and emerging skills. The student could then discuss specific courses with their academic advisor, and engage in an array of co-curricular opportunities to build the skill set they needed for their future career.

Preparing Graduating Students

When students begin their job search, Labor Insight’s data not only tells them which employers are hiring, but also what those employers are looking for in a candidate. This allows students to tailor their resume to the language of the employer and to include the specific skills that the employer is looking for. Moreover, Labor Insight data are also used by career coaches to analyze those areas of the country where certain majors are most in demand.

“In my estimation, geography is one of the main determining factors of career success. If there are few or no jobs of the sort you are seeking, you need to look elsewhere or choose to modify what you are willing to do. Labor Insight provides cut-and-dry evidence that we can show to students; powerfully convincing evidence that compels them to either broaden the geography of their job search or search for related work. Also, once we know which companies tend to hire for certain roles, we can use this information to precisely inform our students where they should be applying their networking efforts through other tools, such as LinkedIn.” John Rindy

Director, Office of Career Education and Development, Slippery Rock University

SRU maintained strong retention rates (82%) over the past few years, expanded the number of articulation agreements with community colleges and high schools, rewrote its university-wide student learning outcomes, updated its general education curriculum and expanded its professional school, master’s degree and doctoral programs, among other accomplishments.  In terms of program development, Rindy added, “We also used Labor Insight and other key tools to inform our decisions about moving forward with new degree programs at the bachelor’s, masters and doctoral levels.”  
Real-Time Job Market Analysis

Labor Insight is used by hundreds of educational institutions to stay up-to-date on the latest job market trends, including top skills and jobs that are needed most. This in-depth, localized labor market data allows educators to increase enrollment while fostering student success.

Key Takeaways

  • Real-time labor market data created clearer paths to career success for prospective, existing, and graduating students
  • Career coaches gained greater insights into the labor market to better advise students on their job opportunities and course choices
  • SRU has a record high amount of student enrollments and career education activity in part because of the in-depth information that the career coaches can now provide
  • Labor Insight’s data helped students customize their resumes with relevant skills to appear more attractive to employers