Apr 4, 2017

Student Employability: How To Align Skills With Job Market Needs

by Digital Marketing Institute

By 2020, nearly two-thirds of jobs created in the U.S. will require some form of post-secondary education. This demand for skilled professionals means that individuals need to nurture existing skills and learn new ones to compete in a job economy that expects a certain level of education and expertise.

The issue for many educational institutions is that more often than not, the labor market moves faster than the post-secondary space, particularly when it comes to digital know-how. This mismatch means that educators are often behind the curve when it comes to providing the training that people need.

For those in continuing education, the key to succeeding in this new landscape is to tap into the needs of the marketplace and align the training they offer with the knowledge that today’s professionals need. So, how can you do that?

Know where to look

Out of 37,000 employers around the world, over a third said they could not find the talent they needed – Manpower

Today’s professionals want skills that prepare them for the fast moving world of IoT, cloud computing and VR, many of which are not included in the syllabus of programs. In order to combat this, universities, colleges and training providers need to access and understand market data that can help them offer and tailor programs that add value.

The good news is that there are an array of resources out there to do just that...

Real-time employer demand data

Burning Glass and Monster.com sell aggregated information on the number of job postings within a given geographic area by occupation and industry along with the foundational and specialized skills and certifications employers are seeking.

Through its acquisition of job search site Trovix, Monster uses AI tools to compare skills listed in job ads against those outlines in CVs uploaded to job boards. While Burning Glass has tools that help jobseekers describe their skills and experience effectively and to identify skill gaps in their desired career paths.

Unemployment Insurance Data

In the US unemployment insurance can provide insight into employment data and wages. As the data is collected each quarter by states there is a huge amount of information available as to what company’s people work for, the length of employment and average current earnings.

In most states, educators can request employment and wage data about graduates which are provided as averages. So, a college can send the state a list of students that graduates with a particular qualification in a certain year and receive information on the number that are employed and average wages. As this database is updated regularly and a government led initiative it is more accurate than most other resources.


Payscale.com links individuals and business to the largest salary profile database in the world. This enables users to research and compare average salaries and get a snapshot of current market wages to employees and employers through online tools and software.

With 54 million salary profiles and 2,300 skills across 350 industries, Payscale provides real-time data to provide insight into the talent market that can prove useful to educators in streamlining and boosting their portfolio.

Job adverts

Research found that between 60-70% of job openings are now posted on the internet. This provides educators with insight into the labour market and the skills that employers are looking for. Along with being easy to analyze at a low cost, looking at millions of online job ads can provide broad, detailed and timely information along with revealing specific skills and certifications that organizations want their employees to possess.

Such websites include:

  1. Indeed
  2. Simply Hired
  3. Monster
  4. Burning Glass
  5. Geographic Solutions
  6. LinkedIn
  7. CareerBuilder
  8. Vault
  9. JobCase
  10. The Ladders
  11. Upwork

Bureau of Labour Statistics Data

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data on a regular basis on employment and earnings. Their Occupational Outlook Handbook is a web-based tool that provides information about hundreds of roles including project growth up to 2020, number of jobs and media income. While the Overview of Wage Data and Occupation reveals detailed salary data that can be viewed by occupation and area.


The digital revolution has innovated the way companies hire. New digital technologies have enabled an array of apps on the market that can help employers find the right candidate and help jobseekers research companies and compare salary information.

JobMo enables users to search by location through Google maps in over 20 countries while SWITCH app allows individuals to search jobs quickly through a swiping action and an online chat function that can help jobseekers set up an interview.

These apps are not only invaluable to students but can provide educational institutions with a quick and easy way to keep track of job opportunities.

By 2025, 540 million around the world could benefit from online talent platforms and raise global GDP by $2.7 trillion – McKinsey & Co


The OECD provide an iLibrary that is a valuable resource for a range of insights on the labor market and employment figures across a number of countries from Europe to Australia and Canada. Along with data tables, they also provide research, ebooks, articles and publications that provide insights that educators can use to gauge global demand for certain skills or occupations.

This can prove particularly useful for training providers that are not targeting a particular geographical area and instead provide online certifications that can be taken anywhere at any time.


With the world now only a click away, media can prove a great resource for tracking what skills employers are looking for. Online publications such as Harvard Business Review, the New York Times, Guardian, BBC and Forbes report on skills and the economy on a regular basis and can help provide educators with insight into the programs individuals are seeking to boost or advance their careers.

Specialist publications also offer insights into a particular field such as digital marketing while setting up an alert on Google alerts or subscribing to newsletters can provide insights right to your inbox, Talent management and HR sites such as the Association for Talent Development and publications can also prove useful to learn about the needs of the workplace and the emerging skills that need filling.

Educators have a unique and invaluable role in the economy and job market – to provide tomorrow’s talent. By tapping into the needs of the marketplace and professionals, universities, colleges and training providers can provide students with the skills they need to thrive across industries.

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