Volume 8, Number 11
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Palm Beach Community College’s Data-Driven Approach to
Regional Development and Effective Program Planning
If the global economy has taught us anything, it has been that the constant development of human capital is fundamental to regional economic success and vitality. Many businesses are good at innovating and competing, but without access to the workforce they need, they can’t put their ideas into practice. As a result, community and technical colleges have become essential to the development of the nation’s economy.
For colleges to play a beneficial role in developing the local workforce, they must constantly scan the local and state labor markets for industry, occupation, demographic, and educational trends, as well as dislocation events, business activities, and any other conditions that affect the way people live and work. With this knowledge, colleges can create programs to train and retrain the local workforce according to local economic needs. This helps area businesses be more successful and profitable, and could help attract businesses to the area. Regrettably, there is no standardized approach to using data more effectively, so colleges often just do what they can with available data, resources, and employees. To deal with this issue, many innovative, entrepreneurial community colleges are taking advantage of a wide range of products and services that can supercharge the data collection and analysis process.
In the past three years at Palm Beach Community College, Ginger Pedersen, Dean of Curriculum, Planning and Research, and Jennifer Campbell, Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, have used a wide range of products and services and have become successful at providing programs and curriculum in response to the needs of the local economy and workforce. Recently, PBCC purchased Strategic Advantage from Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. (EMSI). Strategic Advantage is a web-based data integration and analysis tool that offers efficient access to detailed, integrated industry, occupation, demographic, and education-related data for any county or ZIP-based region. The tool includes multiple data crosswalks to help analysts perform tasks such as estimating the labor market outlook for jobs that are trained for by specific postsecondary programs of study.
Over the past year, Palm Beach Community College (PBCC) has successfully implemented Strategic Advantage to (a) scan environmental factors and describe trends likely to affect the College for their “Blueprint for Program Planning” report; (b) produce a comprehensive, detailed “Campus Demographic Profiles” report; and (c) aid in the development of a career pathways initiative that has become a nationally recognized, award-winning model.
PBCC’s Blueprint for Program Planning. PBCC used Strategic Advantage, data from the state LMI site, and a research consultant to produce a comprehensive program planning report. Specifically, Strategic Advantage was used to provide educational attainment projections for the service area and to produce occupational projections in the fields of health care, business management, computers, trade and industrial, public safety, creative arts and communication, landscape and horticulture, and education. Click here to see a PDF of the report.
Campus Demographic Profiles. In this report, PBCC used Strategic Advantage to quickly compile 2005-2015 demographic projections (population growth, gender, ethnicity, and age) for its local campuses. Knowing the population of each service area is a crucial component for environmental scanning and SWOT analysis and for better serving each community. Click here to see a PDF of the report.
Award-Winning Career Pathways Model. PBCC is now using Strategic Advantage as part of its career pathways model for guiding students into higher-wage, higher-skill programs—a model that recently won a Bellwether Award for instructional innovation. Strategic Advantage, with its integration of occupational outlooks with the career clusters and pathways framework of the States’ Career Clusters Initiative, will be used to monitor demand and add additional pathways to the system. Click here to read a press release and here to read an article describing the initiative.
Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc., (EMSI) is a professional services firm that offers integrated regional data, web-based analysis tools, data-driven reports, and custom consulting services. EMSI has served thousands of workforce, education, economic development, and other policy professionals in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and the company’s web-based Strategic Advantage research and analysis suite is used by over 2,500 professionals across the United States For more information, call (866) 999-3674 or visit www.economicmodeling.com.