Emsi Case Study (See Full Archive)
The Washington, DC-based Graduate School USA, a one-of-a-kind institution, originally provided professional development education to only federal government employees and agencies. But recently, the School underwent a massive structural overhaul.
Armed with Emsi’s labor market data, the School has opened its academic programming to DC residents and is collaborating more with local workforce development organizations. “The School, over the last two years, has gone through this major transition—from expanding its customer base from being so centrally focused on the federal government to now encompassing the local community of DC residents,” said BP Walker, former interim provost and now project consultant at Graduate School USA.
As part of its new strategy (and because of its historical expertise in government), the School was determined to work with local government agencies and workforce organizations. In support of its efforts to help DC prosper, it received two grants with a combined value of over $1.1 million from the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE), in partnership with the Department of Employment Services (DOES).
Leading by Example
It takes a lot for a regional workforce to thrive. There needs to be solutions for adult students who have new professional goals in mind, and educational programs must lead students to real-world career opportunities. With this in mind, Graduate School USA created a fresh business plan.
Among other requirements, the School’s new plan states that Emsi’s labor market data (accessed via Analyst) must be incorporated into all program planning. This data helps the School evaluate the efficacy of new programs, verifying that they align with workforce needs and are likely to lead students to success.
Graduate School’s success with this model helped it earn two grants from OSSE in collaboration with DOES. These grants will allow the School to educate others about how to make informed decisions with labor market and education data:
- The first grant—which awarded over $500K in the past two years to the Occupational Literacy Project—allows Graduate School to provide professional development, technical assistance, and access to Analyst to 11 local Adult Education (AE) and vocational training organizations. (Ten more organizations have recently been added, bringing the total to 21).
- The second grant awarded $672K (also distributed over the past two years) to SuccessU Career Essential Bootcamp Initiative, an intensive program for unemployed and low-income District residents—designed to improve their interpersonal and professional skills so they can achieve greater success and build stronger careers.
But the subgrantee organizations and DC residents are not the only ones benefiting from these programs. “Because we’re dealing with both ends of the spectrum, the individual as well as the organizations that would normally be assisting that individual, there’s been a very interesting experience,” said Walker. “To learn from both sides of the coin has been very useful for our future academic programming.”
The Occupational Literacy Project
Graduate School USA has learned a lot about using labor market data for market research and program planning, and it is committed to using what it has learned to educate other local organizations. Some of the subgrantee organizations for the Occupational Literacy Project include YWCA National Capital Area (YWCA-NCA), So Others May Eat (SOME), the National Organization of Concerned Black Men, and the Washington English Center.
By providing the subgrantees with access to Analyst (and, by extension, giving them all access to identical datasets), the Occupational Literacy Project and the School have made communication and collaboration easier between organizations. Walker also noted that increasing access to data helps in other ways, such as by providing support to future grant applications:
These organizations wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford Emsi right away, nor would they have the time to learn [how to use data]. So the [Occupational Literacy Project] allows them to do that. Now they can do appropriate budgeting, and they can go back and prepare different and more competitive grant proposals because of the intense amount of data they can include in their applications.
In order to help the subgrantees learn how to use the data, Graduate School has hosted Emsi Certification training. Certification, a motivating capstone event for the first round of project training, gets these organizations excited about data and helps them envision its potential.
“We just finished up certification training,” Walker said. “So OSSE subgrantees can now use the data in their programming, to determine which training areas to go into, to determine which areas of the city and metro and which employer bases to target.”
The YWCA National Capital Area has been able to streamline its career readiness programming using Emsi data. “The industry tables and job posting overviews have been the most helpful for determining region-specific information about the current labor market,” said Caroline Eckert, manager of data, outcomes & evaluation at YWCA-NCA. “[That data] has helped the YWCA decide what types of certification classes and career readiness instruction to provide.”
SuccessU Career Essential Bootcamp Initiative
SuccessU is an intensive program that directly serves unemployed and low-income DC residents. This program consists of personal and academic assessments, career exploration and mapping, and professional development training and education.
“Emsi Analyst serves as a compass for adult learners in SuccessU and OSSE subgrantees in the Occupational Literacy Project,” said Michelle Johnson, State Director for Adult Education at OSSE. “These programs help individuals and local program providers determine what are the right or most effective workforce options in the District of Columbia.”
“We downloaded the occupational report [from Analyst] and literally provided it to them so they can have sort of an ‘Aha!’ moment, as in ‘I did not know there were so many different types of occupations, or so many different types of occupations in the District!’”—BP Walker, Graduate School USA
Early in the program, the School presents information on the DC economy, helping participants to develop an understanding of the opportunities available to them. “People just don’t know which jobs are available in the District,” Walker said. “And so we downloaded the occupational report [from Analyst] and literally provided it to them so they can have sort of an ‘Aha!’ moment, as in ‘I did not know there were so many different types of occupations, or so many different types of occupations in the District!’”
Walker highlighted how SuccessU helps participants think beyond minimum entry-level positions. By providing easy-to-understand data about occupations that suit their interests and desires, the program supports these individuals as they envision longer-term career pathways. And the drive to meet those goals benefits not only SuccessU participants but also the businesses they will eventually work for and the community where they live.
About Graduate School USA
Dedicated to learning that drives achievement, Graduate School USA provides education and training that supports the development of careers and occupations, addresses professional competencies, and supports the personal ambitions of adult learners. It is a nonprofit organization serving federal, state, and local governments; international organizations; the private sector; the contracting community; nonprofits; the military; and individuals seeking career change or advancement.
Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. provides comprehensive, user-friendly labor market data that helps educational institutions, workforce planners, and regional developers (such as workforce development boards and economic development organizations) build a better workforce and improve the economic conditions in their regions.