Labor Market Information Gaps


Fixing an Imperfect Labor Market Information System

In “Fixing an Imperfect Labor Market Information System(Issues, Fall 2018), Sanjay E. Sarma and William B. Bonvillian offer a compelling argument and get right that the US labor market is one of the most decentralized and dynamic labor markets in the world. This is a strength, not a weakness.

However, even so, it does pose significant challenges for all major stakeholders, including employers trying to signal changing job requirements, credentialing organizations seeking to align to those changing requirements, and learners trying to connect what they know and are able to do to career opportunity. Although these problems may have seemed daunting in the past, there are new advancements under way that will help us sync our signals, even in a dynamic and changing labor market.

Take the Job Data Exchange (JDX) as an example. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is working with partners to transform how employers signal changing competency, skill, and credentialing requirements direct from the hiring systems themselves. If successful, the JDX will provide employers with open data tools that enable them and their human resource technology partners to send better, faster, clearer signals to preferred and trusted education and workforce partners. This dynamic labor market system was unthinkable not long ago, but recent advancements in data standards, linked data on the web, and artificial intelligence allow us to now address this challenge.

All the while, we must keep in mind that though technology can solve many problems, it is a tool, not a silver bullet. Even with a tool such as the JDX, it is still up to the human users to adopt and utilize these tools properly lest we be sharing bad data in new ways.

Therefore, we need a twofold solution. The tools are one solution, but we also must cultivate new skills, practices, and behaviors in our human resource and talent management systems to organize hiring requirements at the competency and skill level, and we must update them frequently based on best-in-class job analysis. Only then will these new data and technology tools be effective in helping employers more clearly and effectively signal their need.

The article also lays out a vision for a new job navigator that will make use of all the data on skills, job opportunities, and learning to empower individuals in a complex labor market.

For this, something we need to keep in mind is that the navigator of the future will not likely come as a single product or service, but instead will be made up of hundreds of new tools, applications, innovations, and digital solutions. The promise of a job navigator requires a new kind of data ecosystem that is open, decentralized, distributed, and public-private. This ecosystem is eminently achievable, but it will require new rules of the road that will challenge business models and mindsets. The T3 Innovation Network was recently formed as a partnership of over 150 public and private organizations to do just that, and it is actively working toward developing the open data infrastructure of the future for a more equitable talent marketplace.

Vice President
Center for Education and Workforce
US Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Cite this Article

“Labor Market Information Gaps.” Issues in Science and Technology 35, no. 2 (Winter 2019).

Vol. XXXV, No. 2, Winter 2019