In parts one and two of this case study, we saw how Fayetteville Technical Community College has achieved success by using Emsi products to make data-driven decisions. But the college’s use of labor market data has extended beyond the educational sphere. In the final part, we see how it has brought data to bear on its county’s workforce and economic development efforts, and look at what its plans for the future look like. Download the complete study in PDF form here.
Reaching Out: FTCC and Workforce and Economic Development
FTCC is now the program and fiscal agent for its county’s workforce development board, providing the board with labor market data as the board works to retrain laid-off workers and find gainful employment for jobseekers. Three years ago, the county commissioners approached FTCC President Larry Keen about transferring the workforce board function from the county government to FTCC. “They were trying to figure out how to make it better and they came to us to ask if we’d take it on. I agreed, after we’d discussed what it would and wouldn’t be. We made the transition and performance went through the roof. Our team did a great job of serving the needs of our community and our county.”
It wasn’t a small transition. All of the county’s employees that were involved in the workforce development function became college employees, so that while all the same people were involved in the day-to-day workforce functions, the delivery agent directly responsible for them was now the college. But the new approach has helped with increased board-member engagement, both within FTCC and across the community. And according to Keen, that success has come because the college has been able to provide board members with Emsi data as they work on each issue that’s confronted the board. “We’ve used Emsi data to help us make our decisions about where to put our priorities. It’s worked out extremely well.”
“They are, I think, sold on Emsi data; not only on how it is affecting the data decisions at the college and in the workforce development decisions, but just how such decisions are going to affect businesses and jobseekers across the county.” – Carl Mitchell
The data that FTCC has used to demonstrate its claims has also been well received by the business leaders and public agency leaders on the workforce board. FTCC Vice President of Human Resources/Workforce Development and Institutional Effectiveness Carl Mitchell told Emsi how two FTCC staffers had provided a demonstration of Analyst and Career Coach to members of the workforce board, who were so impressed with what they saw that they immediately asked FTCC to generate additional Analyst report—and to send them the data as soon as possible. “They are, I think, sold on Emsi data; not only on how it is affecting the data decisions at the college and in the workforce development decisions, but on how such decisions are going to affect businesses and jobseekers across the county,” said Mitchell.
The advantage that Emsi data offers to FTCC’s role with the workforce board is similar to what it adds to the college’s grant application process: access to specific knowledge about the economy’s needs and strengths, and insight into the resources available to meet those needs. It’s also proven helpful that both the workforce board and the college itself work with the same data tools and see the same picture of the regional economy. As Mitchell stated: “Our workforce board is getting their data from the same source FTCC is getting their data, the same source our grant staff are getting their data. It really makes for some good conversations when everyone is talking from the same data source.”
Of course, the standards to which workforce boards are held evolve constantly, but as the college and its workforce department adapt to the new standards, labor market data will remain essential. Keen praised the way Analyst and Career Coach enable the college to react to shifts judiciously. “The new WIA Act will force us to make more changes, and obtaining data to inform all those decisions will be our continued data research because it gives us better information. At one time, so much of the employment information was hidden and you weren’t sure you had the real information from the communities you were serving for judgments related to program offerings or jobs. Now we don’t suffer from that. We have a clear picture of where we are and where we are going and we don’t have to go ask anybody for it.”
Moving Forward: A New Job Assistance Center and Auto Collision/Repair Program
FTCC continues to integrate labor market data into its work, which includes training more faculty and staff in Analyst and Career Coach. “FTCC has realized that being comfortable with the data software is just as important as analyzing data output from the various Emsi products,” Mitchell said. He even mentioned an occasion when one staff member, participating in a remote meeting, needed to answer a job specific question quickly. “He didn’t have the password to get into Analyst from that meeting site, but realized he could still get to the data by pulling out his laptop and accessing the same data in Career Coach. He was able to get the data on the spot, allowing decision-makers to have the data in just a few minutes. The other people attending the meeting were surprised at how easy it was to obtain the needed data and that such data was always open to the public.”
Speaking of Career Coach and its public availability, another of FTCC’s ongoing projects is the development of a new job assistance center to help students, graduates, and potential students discover the jobs and programs available. The key tool behind this center? Career Coach. “We’re opening up a new job assistance center where Career Coach will be loaded on each and every one of the computers,” said Dr. Rosemary Kelly, Associate Vice President for Student Services. “We’ll have work-study students in the Center to assist other students, as well as a job placement assistant that will help with job postings, looking at résumé writing and résumé reviews.”
The college is also opening a new facility for an advanced auto collision and repair program, funded by grant money won through an application undergirded by Emsi data. The program is designed to train auto collision mechanics to work with the many new technologies in car design that have created a real shortage in repair technicians. “We’re making a system that will bring all of the certifications together, and we’ll offer nine different certifications that can serve people over multiple industry sectors and that, as a result, will get students into gainful employment opportunities that start at about $45K a year,” said Keen.
The data FTCC drew from Analyst was central to obtaining funding for the new building to support this new program. “This is a world-class facility, one that the industry is proud to call their own, in concert with us, reflecting a partnership of the highest order,” said Keen. “And of course Emsi was involved, giving us good data on that as well. The Economic Impact Study, Career Coach, and Analyst have helped us make need-based arguments and provide rationale for us and the county to make the investment in the program. The county made an investment in us, and we’re going to pay that money back over five years, but without our ability to tell our story using reliable industry data, we would never have gotten to where we are now.”
That’s the common thread throughout FTCC’s many triumphs—the prime role that access to good data has played. Keen summed it up like this: “Emsi has put another arrow in our quiver that allowed us to go out and do a better job of what we do. As a result of that, people have an even higher degree of respect for what we do than ever before. We’ll continue to do things that’ll take us to a higher level. Emsi has allowed us to use data to make informed decisions.”
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.