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Aligning Community Colleges to Their Local Labor Markets

David Altstadt

The U.S. economy will emerge from the Great Recession radically transformed from what it was a generation ago. Changes are afoot affecting which occupations and industry sectors will produce employment growth, as well as what education credentials, competencies, and skills will be required to do those jobs.

Community colleges already take steps to address the workforce needs of local employers, but their efforts often are hampered by a lack of detailed, up-to-date information about occupations and skills in demand. A promising, yet still-evolving solution to that problem can be found within the large pool of job openings posted on the Internet.

This paper discusses new sophisticated “spidering” and artificial intelligence technologies that can aggregate and analyze these online job ads and provide a more comprehensive, “real-time” source of information about the hiring and skill needs of local employers. If proven accurate and reliable, analyses of online job ads could complement traditional ways that community colleges determine labor market demand for program and course offerings.