An OECD (the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) study found that online job posting data answers key questions for higher education stakeholders as they align educational offerings with today’s fast-shifting workplace demand, positioning students for greater success as they enter the worst job market in a generation.
Drawing on 9.3 million job postings from four states in the Burning Glass Technologies database, the OECD paper uses job postings data to address three dilemmas confronting higher education today:
- What certifications and skills are in highest demand in local metropolitan areas where college graduates are most likely to seek work?
- How can students whose majors do not provide clear career tracks position themselves for success? For example, the report analyzes which job opportunities are most readily available to recent sociology graduates.
- Can non-ICT (also known as IT) graduates find jobs in the fast-growing, underpopulated ICT market? If so, which graduates, and how?
The report finds compelling answers in Burning Glass’ data for all three dilemmas. A careful parsing of the job postings from specific metropolitan areas demonstrates how geography shapes the skills graduates need to succeed locally. In some cases, there are important differences between locations. For example, the computer and mathematical occupation clusters comprise 30% of job postings in Virginia, but only between 17% and 20% of postings in Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
For those who hold sociology degrees, the data shows that 60% of the postings in these four states that ask for a sociology degree are for jobs in the community and social service (27%), management (18%), and education, training, and library (15%) occupations. By adding job-specific skills, sociology graduates are particularly well-positioned to seek jobs in these occupations.
Finally, using a deep dive into the dataset, the paper finds that graduates from non-ICT programs can effectively position themselves for ICT jobs. In particular, graduates from engineering, business management, marketing, and related support services who acquire advanced ICT skills have the best chances of filling ICT positions.
According to the report, online job postings data can answer these questions better than traditional sources, for several reasons:
- Job postings data is extremely broad in scope, with the Burning Glass database consisting of more than a billion job postings.
- The data is updated in real time, with 3.5 million unique active postings analyzed and incorporated into the system each day.
- The information is highly granular. Each posting can be broken down into roughly seventy variables, including occupation, industry, job tasks, and employer location, as well as the educational levels, credentials, and skills requested of job applicants.