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H

ave you ever experienced the feeling that you have been here before?  Back in 2008 we experienced a major financial crisis that led to a recession. The discussions at the time included, unemployment recovery, jobs changing rapidly, employers not finding the right candidates, educators not keeping up, and the ever-growing skills gap. Twelve years later, as we experience the COVID-19 crisis, the very same topics are on the table.

Kelly R. Bailey served as the Guest Editor to the third volume in "After the Pandemic" series.

Twelve years ago, I was working for EmployOn, a tech startup turned labor market analytics firm, that happened to supply the labor exchange portal to the State of New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Our client, Yustina Saleh, PhD, the Labor Market Information Director at the time and now Senior Vice President of Analytics at Emsi, had a unique approach to solving the employee/employer pipeline conundrum. “Tons of people had lost their jobs in the tri-state area and they needed to get back to work and get food on their table now, and she saw a better way. Innovations in the workforce system like effective industry partnerships to create more responsive training programs, integrated and actionable labor market information, and data driven career counseling to help job seekers make better decisions.” She took our job posting data and started creating reports for her constituents on what jobs employers were looking to fill. Most people thought it was plain crazy, but my ears perked up.  Could the information in these job postings actually be used to help people make better decisions in their lives and help the entire education to employment pipeline be more efficient?  

My passion, since college, has been to help people make better decisions to live a successful life and provide for their families. I was a traditional student in that I went right from high school to university, but non-traditional in that I worked four-five part-time jobs to help pay for my education and living expenses. A little over two years into a three-year biology degree, I realized I did not want to be a dentist. I had to figure out real fast how to make a shift and not incur any additional expenses that I could not afford. And then 9-11 happened three months before I graduated with a Business degree and there were no jobs. I spent countless hours combing through newspaper ads, calling companies, and applying online (Monster.com was in its infancy) and the result was nothing. Finally, nine months after I graduated, I was offered an inside sales job in NJ for $28,000 per year, less than what I was making working my part-time jobs.  The only way to live “the dream” was to move back home with my parents. It was definitely not the life I envisioned as a college graduate.

At the same time one of my adult colleagues at my part-time job was telling me about a job opportunity her husband had. He did not have a college degree and he was being offered a job at Nucor Steel making $80,000! He would complete a six-week certificate, on the job, and start working right away. It was confusing to me, because all I ever heard growing up was that going to college and working your way up the corporate ladder was the only way to success. How was it possible that there were alternative routes? There were so many people that could not afford to go to college the way I did, had family commitments that did not give them the time. And even if they could, how would they know they could make enough to pay off the debt they would incur?

In 2009, our firm was acquired and shortly after Yustina joined us. She had outlined her dream on a white board, and it was a world of hiring and learning based on skills. I had for the first time seen the possibilities through the lens of data and it was exciting. It was a slow start, but our circle of believers started to grow. Educators started using job data to make decisions on new programs, to build stronger industry partnerships, and to help students understand the return on investment for their education. Companies started using job data to see what their competitors were advertising in their job posts and to search for potential candidates. Regions and states were using the job data to understand the needs of their localities and make better decisions to serve their people.

In a recent interview, Elon Musk said that his vision for the electric car was a 20-year vision. The world and the technology were not ready for that vision when his first electric car came on the market. Today, there are charging stations everywhere and electric vehicles are commonplace and affordable. The world of skills-based hiring is the same.

Yustina and I both found our way to Emsi and we continue to push forward on the data infrastructure to facilitate skills-based hiring and learning with an amazing team. Innovations such as an Open Skills Library and Skill Shapes are unlocking a whole new set of possibilities for people, employers, and educators to finally speak the same language.

Over a decade ago, the first tools to analyze skills within job postings became available and there were a few of us that took the first step. In the grand scheme of things, those small, first steps led to amazing innovation in the way we make decisions.

But we have not yet addressed the major structural issues that are keeping us decades behind. How do we support personalized, lifelong learning and winding career paths? How do we support the rapid recovery efforts around unemployment and at the same time ensure those most vulnerable are not in the same place a decade from now? How do we create talent pipelines when we do not know what we will need in three years? How do we track people’s data as they move through their winding life paths without infringing on their rights, privacy, and safety? What wrap-around resources are required for people to be able to work, such as childcare? How do we support diversity and inclusion in our labor market? COVID-19 has merely shone a bright light on problems that have been lying under the surface for many years. Lucky for us, there are many organizations that have been working hard to tackle them.  

In this Bookazine edition we will share the amazing innovations in work and education that have been well underway but that COVID-19 has accelerated. We urge you to look at this moment in history not as a crisis, but a catalyst for change. And instead of back to normal, let’s go forward to better.

About
Kelly R. Bailey
:
Kelly R. Bailey is currently the Director of Open Skills at Emsi, the Founder & Host of the 'Let's Talk About Skills, Baby' Podcast, and the Director of Operations at The Scone Pony.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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Instead of Back to Normal, Forward to Better

Image by Javier Allegue via Unsplash.

July 30, 2020

H

ave you ever experienced the feeling that you have been here before?  Back in 2008 we experienced a major financial crisis that led to a recession. The discussions at the time included, unemployment recovery, jobs changing rapidly, employers not finding the right candidates, educators not keeping up, and the ever-growing skills gap. Twelve years later, as we experience the COVID-19 crisis, the very same topics are on the table.

Kelly R. Bailey served as the Guest Editor to the third volume in "After the Pandemic" series.

Twelve years ago, I was working for EmployOn, a tech startup turned labor market analytics firm, that happened to supply the labor exchange portal to the State of New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Our client, Yustina Saleh, PhD, the Labor Market Information Director at the time and now Senior Vice President of Analytics at Emsi, had a unique approach to solving the employee/employer pipeline conundrum. “Tons of people had lost their jobs in the tri-state area and they needed to get back to work and get food on their table now, and she saw a better way. Innovations in the workforce system like effective industry partnerships to create more responsive training programs, integrated and actionable labor market information, and data driven career counseling to help job seekers make better decisions.” She took our job posting data and started creating reports for her constituents on what jobs employers were looking to fill. Most people thought it was plain crazy, but my ears perked up.  Could the information in these job postings actually be used to help people make better decisions in their lives and help the entire education to employment pipeline be more efficient?  

My passion, since college, has been to help people make better decisions to live a successful life and provide for their families. I was a traditional student in that I went right from high school to university, but non-traditional in that I worked four-five part-time jobs to help pay for my education and living expenses. A little over two years into a three-year biology degree, I realized I did not want to be a dentist. I had to figure out real fast how to make a shift and not incur any additional expenses that I could not afford. And then 9-11 happened three months before I graduated with a Business degree and there were no jobs. I spent countless hours combing through newspaper ads, calling companies, and applying online (Monster.com was in its infancy) and the result was nothing. Finally, nine months after I graduated, I was offered an inside sales job in NJ for $28,000 per year, less than what I was making working my part-time jobs.  The only way to live “the dream” was to move back home with my parents. It was definitely not the life I envisioned as a college graduate.

At the same time one of my adult colleagues at my part-time job was telling me about a job opportunity her husband had. He did not have a college degree and he was being offered a job at Nucor Steel making $80,000! He would complete a six-week certificate, on the job, and start working right away. It was confusing to me, because all I ever heard growing up was that going to college and working your way up the corporate ladder was the only way to success. How was it possible that there were alternative routes? There were so many people that could not afford to go to college the way I did, had family commitments that did not give them the time. And even if they could, how would they know they could make enough to pay off the debt they would incur?

In 2009, our firm was acquired and shortly after Yustina joined us. She had outlined her dream on a white board, and it was a world of hiring and learning based on skills. I had for the first time seen the possibilities through the lens of data and it was exciting. It was a slow start, but our circle of believers started to grow. Educators started using job data to make decisions on new programs, to build stronger industry partnerships, and to help students understand the return on investment for their education. Companies started using job data to see what their competitors were advertising in their job posts and to search for potential candidates. Regions and states were using the job data to understand the needs of their localities and make better decisions to serve their people.

In a recent interview, Elon Musk said that his vision for the electric car was a 20-year vision. The world and the technology were not ready for that vision when his first electric car came on the market. Today, there are charging stations everywhere and electric vehicles are commonplace and affordable. The world of skills-based hiring is the same.

Yustina and I both found our way to Emsi and we continue to push forward on the data infrastructure to facilitate skills-based hiring and learning with an amazing team. Innovations such as an Open Skills Library and Skill Shapes are unlocking a whole new set of possibilities for people, employers, and educators to finally speak the same language.

Over a decade ago, the first tools to analyze skills within job postings became available and there were a few of us that took the first step. In the grand scheme of things, those small, first steps led to amazing innovation in the way we make decisions.

But we have not yet addressed the major structural issues that are keeping us decades behind. How do we support personalized, lifelong learning and winding career paths? How do we support the rapid recovery efforts around unemployment and at the same time ensure those most vulnerable are not in the same place a decade from now? How do we create talent pipelines when we do not know what we will need in three years? How do we track people’s data as they move through their winding life paths without infringing on their rights, privacy, and safety? What wrap-around resources are required for people to be able to work, such as childcare? How do we support diversity and inclusion in our labor market? COVID-19 has merely shone a bright light on problems that have been lying under the surface for many years. Lucky for us, there are many organizations that have been working hard to tackle them.  

In this Bookazine edition we will share the amazing innovations in work and education that have been well underway but that COVID-19 has accelerated. We urge you to look at this moment in history not as a crisis, but a catalyst for change. And instead of back to normal, let’s go forward to better.

About
Kelly R. Bailey
:
Kelly R. Bailey is currently the Director of Open Skills at Emsi, the Founder & Host of the 'Let's Talk About Skills, Baby' Podcast, and the Director of Operations at The Scone Pony.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.