EMSI CASE STUDY (See Full Archive)
When assessing the market demand and viability of potential new programs, Lakeshore Technical College in Wisconsin goes through a careful, data-driven process. That includes hard data and analysis from EMSI, as research for one recently proposed program illustrates.
The institutional research office at Lakeshore Technical College, located in Cleveland, Wisconsin, handles all new educational program research for the college and regularly assesses the health of existing programs in light of the regional economy. The objective (and challenge) for LTC is to ensure the college offers education and training programs that are in demand locally. Or, as analyst Jason Vander Weele says, “that we are matching the needs of the community to the needs of students.”
Vander Weele and the IR office had that same goal in mind in mid-2013 when they set out to analyze a proposed new program in applied engineering technology.
The Analysis: What Was Included?
Vander Weele used Analyst, EMSI’s labor market research tool, to analyze four engineering technician job titles that the proposed program trains for. He focused on five metrics, looking specifically at data for the region LTC serves. The five metrics are:
- Projected number of jobs from present to the year 2018 and historical employment from 2010 to present;
- Regional concentration (using location quotient) of the occupations compared to the state and nation;
- Wages, both entry level (10th to 25th percentile) and median;
- The age of the area’s engineering-related workforce (to provide an estimate of expected retirements in the next decade); and
- Estimated job openings during the next 10 years (factoring new job growth and attrition) to gauge future demand.
After providing the regional labor market perspective, the analysis assessed related education completions by program and institution in the LTC district. As with the other data components, Analyst quickly gave Vander Weele valuable information: In 2011, nine institutions (plus LTC) handed out 300 degrees in programs related to applied engineering technology. A majority of those degrees (82%) were in associate’s degrees programs or certificates, the level of education that the college is focused on.
“[Analyst] is an important tool because we want to provide programs that both produce graduates in high-demand fields and help students earn good jobs. … We want to be sure that the programs we offer have been thoroughly researched and are going to support the local economy, appeal to students, and be an asset to the community.” — Jason Vander Weele, Lakeshore Technical College
Vander Weele weighed those 300 completions against the 74 job openings projected each year through 2023 for the region. The bottom line from his report: “If this completion rate continues unchanged over the next 10 years, 3,000 graduates will be produced, more than four times the projected market demand for engineering-related workers during that same period.”
The analysis also provided data for two counties LTC serves: Sheboygan and Manitowoc. The two counties are heavily concentrated with industrial engineering technicians (one of the four job titles analyzed), and overall engineering tech employment is projected to decline 11%. Many of the engineering-related jobs that are expected to come open, Vander Weele found, will be replacement jobs (because of retirements, etc.) and not from new job growth.
Deploying an Employer Survey and Where EMSI’s Analyst Helped
As of late summer 2013, LTC was deploying a survey to local employers as the next step in its program development process – a natural and helpful complement to the labor market information the college has gathered. While determining which programs to offer is a multifaceted process, Vander Weele said the economic and labor market data analysis was an important step. Rather than relying on anecdotal information, the data research provided the college’s leadership with an additional method of understanding how the program would fit into the region’s economy.
And EMSI was a key resource in providing those hard numbers.
“[Analyst] is an important tool because we want to provide programs that both produce graduates in high-demand fields and help students earn good jobs,” he noted. “A student may see one particular aspect of a program and say, ‘Hey, that’s the program for me,’ without understanding the full scope of the economy regarding that career. This is why we want to be sure that the programs we offer have been thoroughly researched and are going to support the local economy, appeal to students, and be an asset to the community.”
Emsi 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.