Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC), in Fayetteville, North Carolina, is one of the strongest examples of just how powerful labor market data can be. FTCC has been working with Emsi for several years and currently employs the complete suite of Emsi products to inform decisions throughout the institution—from program review to grant writing, from marketing to workforce development.
We recently had a detailed conversation with a number of the college’s staff to learn more about the way FTCC uses Emsi data to benefit its students and promote the economic health of its region. In this three-part case study, we present the results of that conversation. Download the complete study in PDF form here.
Using Emsi’s Economic Impact Study to Prove FTCC’s Value
The impetus for integrating labor market data into FTCC’s practices—and the ensuing success—began with college president Dr. Larry Keen. While FTCC now uses the full spectrum of Emsi’s data products, Keen told us a story that begins more modestly: with his confidence in Emsi data’s ability to inform and quantify the college’s economic impact for its students, taxpayers, and community.
When he arrived at FTCC eight years ago, Keen (along with, in his words, “all of the educational world”) already knew that making the right decisions required using up-to-date data. Keen began by purchasing an Economic Impact Study (EIS) for the college. “I had been exposed to Emsi prior to the time that I came to FTCC,” he said. “So before I arrived, I had already made the decision to get an EIS, to give the college’s team a picture of where we were in the community, with analysis of how significantly we contributed to the economic vitality of the community.” The data in that first impact study was so helpful that the school commissioned another study a couple of years later, and now intends to commission future impact studies every other year.
One of the EIS’s key values was its legitimacy as an independent testimonial to the benefits the school provided. “It’s not something that can be seen as self-serving,” Keen said. “There are legitimate economic models used to analyze, review, and report on the collected data.” Having that yardstick remains helpful to faculty, staff, and even students. “It means something to them, because they have a metric bringing Emsi’s expertise to demonstrate the net result of all college faculty, staff, and administrator’s efforts.”
The EIS has also proved useful in maintaining funding for the college in a tough economic environment. In fact, Keen reports that in the years that FTCC has used the impact study to present its impact to county officials, the college has seen steady increases each time every year. “We can report to our county, ‘This is the economic impact that we have. This is what it means to our students and this is what it means to the community at large.’ While others have experienced reductions in their funding from local sources, each year we’ve had at least a slight increase.”
Expanding Data’s Role By Implementing Career Coach
With the Economic Impact Study helping FTCC demonstrate its value to local government officials, the college needed a way to show its value to individual students, and to the community at large. To do that, the school began using Career Coach.
Originally, FTCC subscribed to Career Coach as part of a group of institutions that received a grant for a data tools application that included the tool, but Keen quickly recognized the potential that Career Coach offered. “I learned more about it and saw what it could do. And I immediately started querying our people, asking ‘How are we using it? How can this help us more? Are you using the real-time data to inform your recommendations or decisions?’”
Career Coach let the college demonstrate to both current and potential students—in a credible way—the value of a degree in the real world. “We needed a better way to communicate the availability of the education and career opportunities to the local public and our students,” Keen said. “It’s one thing for us to talk about it and to use whatever promotional materials we have to tell the story. But at the end of the day, we needed something more convincing and more accurate from an independent source.”
FTCC highlights Career Coach by placing a link to the tool right on the website’s homepage, and promotes it throughout the admissions process. Bill Griffin, FTCC’s associate vice president of curriculum programs, said: “In my welcome letter, I encourage new students to take a look at it, so they have an idea of what they want to do before they start interacting with admissions counselors or faculty advisors. Hopefully, they’ll have a better idea of where they want to go, how to get there, and the need to remain focused as they participate in their programs of study.”
Emsi’s career exploration tool has become a vital step in helping new students. “When students first come to the school, a lot of them don’t know what they want to do, they just know they want to come back to school, so we use it as part of our intake process,” said Associate Vice President of Student Services Dr. Rosemary Kelly. “When they meet with their counselor, they’re actually able to talk with the student and bring up 10-year projections, and the whole concept of what salary the student is likely to make, how many job openings there are, or the projected job openings in this area. So we are actually able to give them concrete data—real things as opposed to pie in the sky.”
Perhaps even more exciting is that Career Coach has found a wide range of uses beyond student recruitment. As FTCC’s vice president of human resources/workforce development and institutional effectiveness Carl Mitchell explained it: “We’ve moved Career Coach into the decision-making processes throughout the college. It’s regularly used by people in student services, academics, workforce development, marketing, public relations, human resources, and by faculty and staff working at our various campuses. It’s not isolated and available in just one area.”
Just as the EIS led to Career Coach, the success of Career Coach soon triggered a desire for even more data. Keen explained: “We started saying, ‘Okay, if Career Coach is good for what it does, the question is are we doing the right things? Is there more we could do if we had additional data? Are we choosing the best programs to serve our community?’ That led to learning more about the different products that Emsi had to offer.”
In part two, we’ll explain how Fayetteville Tech has implemented Analyst to answer pivotal questions throughout the institution (including academic program reviews and strategic planning), and has used both Analyst and the Gap Analysis Report to optimize its resources for the specific needs of its region. And in part three, we’ll see how FTCC’s use of data has given it an off-campus impact, and learn about their plans for the future.
For more on FTCC’s economic impact study, see this landing page the college created that includes report links and a press conference featuring Keen.
Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., a CareerBuilder company, turns labor market data into useful information that helps organizations understand the connection between economies, people, and work. Using sound economic principles and good data, we build user-friendly services that help educational institutions, workforce planners, and regional developers (such as WIBs, EDOs, chambers, utilities) build a better workforce and improve the economic conditions in their regions. For more information, email Josh Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit www.economicmodeling.com.