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Data Driver - Measuring and Informing Education and Workforce Development

Data provides a foundation for chambers of commerce, the business sector, and community stakeholders to evaluate key education attainment challenges and identify indicators along the cradle-to-career pipeline. The collection, evaluation and sharing of quality, actionable data is a crucial first step for understanding regional labor shortages, forecasting workforce demands, and prioritizing community education goals, system improvements, and policy agendas.

Data Collection and Measurement

Chambers are becoming increasingly proactive in gathering data in an effort to objectively evaluate the state of their workforce.

Chamber Best Practices
  • The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (La.) created a report The Regional Workforce: An Analysis of Labor Supply and Demand that explores the Baton Rouge Area’s workforce supply and demand, and identifies needs, progress, and hurdles in meeting the demand. The report seeks to provide updates on previous suggestions, while also identifying new opportunities for progress in terms of streamlining the regional workforce pipeline. Moreover, the occupations and industries selected reflect those that have a number of high-growth, high-wage jobs that require post-secondary training or certification.
  • Birmingham Business Alliance (Ala.) released an executive summary on the significance of research, detailing how the chamber derives value from research and how data powers its innovative programming and EDWD investments.
  • Charleston Metro Chamber’s (S.C.) Center for Business Research (CBR) serves as the center for compilation, interpretation and distribution of business and economic data for the metro area. The chamber uses data sourced from several research institutions to publish an annual Regional Economic Scorecard and Economic Outlook Forecast.
  • The Cobb Chamber of Commerce (Ga.), in partnership with Cobb County’s steering committee, has come together to address current and future workforce needs and concerns. Specifically, the goal of the initiative is to have industry inform the workforce educational supply chain (programs, curriculum, training, and resources) in Cobb County. The vision of the Cobb Workforce Partnership is a future in which Cobb County employers know that students educated in Cobb has the skills that they are looking to hire; and students in Cobb County know how to connect with internships, apprenticeships, and job opportunities in Cobb. Read the Cobb Workforce Partnership Report for 2015 for a roadmap of this collaborative effort.
  • The Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (Mass.) Education Committee commissioned a teacher survey aimed at assessing Fall River Public School teachers’ views on the curriculum as it relates to college and career readiness. The committee leveraged the survey findings to promote the importance of education and encourage members to join in recognizing its importance to the broader community.
  • The Greensboro Chamber of Commerce (N.C.) and High Point Chamber (N.C.), in collaboration with other community partners, conducted a Workforce Development Survey polling area businesses on metrics related to difficult-to-fill jobs, competency demands (including soft and hard skills) and subsequent desired training, wages, and employee recruitment. Findings were compiled into a 2014 Survey Report and are used to stimulate discussion among key stakeholders to determine solutions for regional skills gaps.
  • The Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce (Pa.) conducted a workforce survey of area businesses to serve as a tool for program planning at the chamber’s new Center for Workforce Excellence. The survey helped the chamber focus programming on current and future needs of the business community.
  • Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s (Tenn.) Research Center offers industry analysis and survey services that supports business needs and goals for community growth. The chamber portrays the Nashville MSA economic landscape through their visually appealing Datascape Report (2016). They also use Research Center data for their Vital Signs Report (2016) which includes community indicators to help set priorities to address regional labor changes.

Evaluating and Reporting Results

Raw data cannot merely be taken at face value. In order to effectively leverage data, chambers must dive deeper to uncover the trends and factors that feed the numbers. The true value of data lies in how chambers choose to use and communicate the results: inform community stakeholders, provide strategic direction, validate efforts, or drive new initiatives.

Chamber Best Practices
  • Austin Chamber of Commerce’s (Texas) Education Progress Reports - Data collected in partnership with neighboring suburban school districts and economic development corporations helps profile the needs of school districts in terms of leadership, board policy, and budgetary decisions. Districts then establish goals based on those needs.
  • Jobs Outlook 2020 ( Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber & Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce) - A regional indicator report used to forecast the region’s job outlook: where jobs will be in 2020 and what education is needed. The report attributes data as being the directional guide that businesses and community partners use in targeting job creation and workforce preparation efforts.
  • Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce (N.C.) released Assessing a Demand-Driven Durham Workforce, a report that looks at the local workforce landscape from the employers’ point of view. Qualitative data derived through interviews, focus groups, and surveying of local business leaders, woven with national research, allowed the chamber to provide the workforce system with a straightforward assessment of the skill needs of employers.
  • Greater Pensacola Chamber (Fla.) published an in-depth Workforce GAP Analysis on the labor market for the region’s information technology and advanced manufacturing sectors. The study was based on the breakdown of two critical data sequences: 1) current occupational employment statistics, which indicate the current skills base of the workforce and 2) workforce/training outcomes data, which indicate who is being trained with what skills for which occupations. This study led to specific action items in curriculum development and training programs needed to grow the labor market in these industries.

Data and Advocacy

Use data as a tool to inform policy positions and communicate the value of your legislative efforts.

Chamber Best Practices
  • The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce (Alaska) used the results from a statewide teacher and household survey to inform their education policy agenda. The purpose of the survey was to provide the information necessary to advance statewide conversations on education policy and programs in a way that supports student learning and performance. The findings have led to key action items and position stances, including their commitment to include all community stakeholders in their effort to drive education reform.
  • Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce compiles K-12 education policy research reports to advocate, educate, and promote important legislation within the community. These reports use data to provide a factual foundation from which the chamber can make informed policy recommendations regarding education and workforce development.

Data Collection, Measurement, Communication Resources

National Data Sources

It is imperative that chambers consult data sources that are credible, reliable, and available on a consistent basis.

Labor Market Data:
  • The American Community Survey (ACS) is a popular, statistical survey that samples a small percentage of the population every year, giving communities the information they need to plan investments and services. ACS’s education data, which tracks school enrollment and education attainment, is widely utilized by educators, academic institutions, and civic organizations. ACS provides a number of tools to help guide users in how to use the data presented.
  • Burning Glass is a national consulting agency that provides national data available for free download and reports on a number of topics related to workforce development and the skills gap, including credentials, internships, and STEM.
  • The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce is a research entity headed by economist Anthony Carnevale that publishes numerous reports on the labor market, including industry, skills, post-secondary education, and the current workforce.
  • The National Association of Workforce Board’s Labor Market Information page provides reports on a variety of metrics related to employment levels, industry employment, and state rankings.
  • The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides various data tools including databases, calculators, and maps that pertain to numerous labor categories, such as unemployment, industry trends, and regional indicators.
Higher Education Data:
  • The College and Career Readiness of U.S. High School Graduates Report by Achieve lists state profiles, as well as a K-12 summary report, represent the first time that indicators of college and career readiness, from publicly available sources, have been compiled to paint a picture of college and career readiness in every state in this way. The report and accompanying state profiles illustrate that too few high school graduates are prepared to succeed in postsecondary education, the military, and careers.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, better known as IPEDS, is the core postsecondary education data collection program for NCES. IPEDS collects data in seven areas: institutional characteristics, institutional prices, enrollment, student financial aid, degrees and certificates conferred, student persistence and success, and institutional human and fiscal resources.
  • The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center nationally tracks postsecondary student enrollment and educational pathways data.
  • Postsecondary Analytics, an education-focused research firm, offers a free online tool that breaks down educational attainment by state, race, and age group from 2006-2013.
K-12 Data:
  • The Education Week Research Center, an entity of the publisher of Education Week, provides comprehensive data and reports on a spectrum of topics related to K-12 Education, including student success, graduation rates, redistricting, teacher support, common core, and more.

Convention & Seminar Resources

Please email Alysia Bell at abell@acce.org or Michelle Vegliante at mvegliante@acce.org to learn more about our developing EDWD portfolio.

To highlight your organization's work, please submit a sample here. For more information about the Education Attainment Division, visit www.acce.org/ead or email ead@acce.org.


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Last updated: 10/07/2017

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