Collecting & Assessing Community Information/Needs Assessment

Labor Market Information and Career Decision Making

Accurate information about occupational opportunities is one of the essential ingredients of sound career decision making. Teachers and counselors both play an influential role in helping Youth and adults gather, analyze and use this information. One important source of Occupational information is the labor market. Following a definition of Labor Market information(LMI), this section highlights some sources of LMI, describes major LMI classification systems, suggest some criteria for selecting LMI, and list sources for career decision making.

What is labor market information?

The labor market is the interaction of individuals competing for jobs (occupations) and employers (industries) competing for workers, usually in a particular geographic area. Although for some occupations there is a National Labor Market, foremost the applicable labor market area is local. Because it is affected by economic and human factors, any labor market is in a constant state of flux.

Labor market information (lMI) is the description of the interactions between occupations, and employers. It is information that describes and interprets how a labor market is functioning, and identifies available labor resources and employment opportunities. Three major components make up LMI: Economic or labor force information (the number of people employed and unemployed), occupational information (descriptions of occupations), a demographic information (characteristics of the general population related to employment and workers). (iowa occupational information Coordinating Committee 1985). Although money and better LMI will not in itself solve career decision-making problems of Youth and adults, it is important to understand how to use it in career decision making.

Sources of Labor Market information

Labor market information is compiled by a variety of agencies, among them divisions of the U.S. Department of Labor; the Departments of Commerce, defense, and education; in state employment security agencies. One guide through this Maze of information is the network of the National Occupational information Coordinating Committee (NOICC) and the state occupational information coordinating committees (SOICCs). This network supports the development of Statewide Career Information Delivery Systems(CIDS) that are now available in most States. The association of computers for Career Information in Eugene, oregon, provides a directory of state-based CIDS.

LMI classification systems

Using LMI effectively requires understanding how the information is organized. Following are the three most common types of classification and the major federal Publications that use them.

By Occupation

Dictionary of Occupational titles (DOT) contains detailed definitions of occupations, including titles, description of tasks performed, and related occupations.

Standard occupational classification (SOC) manual categorizes occupations in the DOT, focusing primarily on titles and descriptions of Occupational groups.

Guide for occupational exploration (GOE) describes elementary through post secondary program in 31 areas, subdivided into 50 categories. The CIP includes coded classifications and definitions of program purpose.

By Industry

Standard Indsustrial Classification (SIC) Manual categorizes and describes industries. The numerical SIC codes are also used to tabulate data on industries and to access many databases of industrial information, such as Thomas and Standard and Poor's Registers.

By Instructional Program

A Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) describes elementary through post-secondary programs in 31 areas, subdivided into 50 categories. The CIP includes coded classifications and definitions of program purpose.

The NOICC Resource Guide...

Selecting labor market information

Because of the amount and diversity of LMI, selecting the most appropriate sources may seem like an overwhelming task. The following criteria can be used to assess the quality of sources of LMI.

Reliability. Does the information seem to describe accurately the outlook for the occupation? Some materials, developed for recruiting, or publicity purposes, they overstate the demand for an occupation, future earnings potential, and so forth. Materials produced for the purpose of vocational guidance usually are the most objective.

Comprehensiveness. Does the source provide a variety of information about a broad range of occupations? The CIDS, described earlier, are examples of comprehensive sources of LMI.

Timeliness. Does the source provide up-to-date information? Regardless of how comprehensive and reliable a source was when it was initially published, if the underlying facts or data become dated, it may that contain obsolete or misleading information.

Credibility of the developer. How repeatable is the organization or individual that has developed the material? Some organizations, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics division of Occupational Outlook have earned a reputation for developing reliable materials. However, there are also organizations with best interests that tend to develop self-serving materials.