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You Can’t Grow if You Don’t Know: Using Data to Support Skills Development

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by Allen Blue

 
Allen Blue headshot - Co-founder, LinkedIn

​Allen Blue, Co-founder of LinkedIn

When I was a kid, I knew for sure that when I grew up, I would get a job and stick with one company until retirement.  My dad did it, everyone grownup I knew did it; that’s just how it was.

But things have changed.  Today we expect to have many employers, maybe to work for ourselves, and even to totally remake our careers. And because technology keeps moving faster, so will the changes in how we work.

Technological advances have already displaced hundreds of thousands of low-skilled workers in the past few decades. The very same technologies have also fueled the creation of even more new, higher-skilled, better-paid jobs.

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Technology-driven change brings both challenges and opportunities. In order for us to take advantage of those opportunities, we need to do three things:

  1. We all need to be ready to learn new skills. It seems like we’re ready: over half of adults believe it is essential to learn new skills to keep pace.
  2. We need ways to learn those skills. That means cheaper and better ways to learn, on the job or in the classroom, and the support we need from our employers and our government.
  3. Employers need to hire based on those skills.  A four-year degree or a specific credential has long been the easiest way to hire, but employers have missed a lot of great candidates doing it that way. We can do better.

To get us started, we have to understand what skills are out there, and identify new skills when they appear.  We release the LinkedIn Workforce Report every month to share our real-time data on hiring, migration, and skills gaps across the United States. Because we track the supply and demand of more than 50,000 skills, we have the unique ability to pinpoint skills that are in high demand or in oversupply in specific geographic areas.

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With that data, employers can hire better, educators can know what to teach, and individuals can better understand their own paths to new careers.  We’re piloting projects in Denver, CO, and Phoenix, AZ, to make this information easy to act upon.  Fifty-four percent of Americans with a high school degree but no college degree say they don’t know what jobs are currently available or what additional training they would need to qualify for those jobs. It’s important for us, in partnership with employers, educators, states, cities, and philanthropic organizations, to work to close this information gap.   

Also to that end, we have built data partnerships with dozens of cities around the world to help build economies and close skills gaps. For example, in Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti is using LinkedIn data to better understand the city’s regional technology workforce and to identify opportunities to improve the pipeline of talent and grow the area’s tech economy.  The LA Tech Talent Pipeline leveraged LinkedIn data to map the city’s tech talent, and shared the results with education and workforce stakeholders in the city.  The goal of the Tech Talent Pipeline is to enable partners (from Workforce Development Boards to local community colleges) to create and expand technology curriculum and training, to increase access and equity—and to ensure that all Angelenos can benefit from technology-driven economic changes. This model, which first began in New York City, has expanded across the country in part through the Obama administration’s TechHire program, and has continued at the local level in places where this talent is needed most.  

And of course, at LinkedIn we know the value of a network.  Through our mentoring initiatives, we’re connecting local experts who can serve as mentors with LinkedIn members seeking career advice, to provide Americans with real-time, on-the-ground intelligence about what skills are needed to thrive in an industry—and some of the connections to make it a reality.

The uncertainties of the future of work are a major national challenge, but there are many people and organizations ready to navigate the waters.  We applaud Vice President Biden for taking on this critical issue, as well as for his ongoing commitment to ensuring that all Americans get their shot at the American Dream.  We have faith that by working together— as individuals, governments, businesses, educators and nonprofits—we can keep the dream strong for all of us.

Allen Blue is the Co-founder of Linkedin.

Follow Allen on Twitter @AllenB

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LinkedIn Co-founder, Allen Blue, lends his voice to the Biden Institute Blog to discuss the challenges as well as the opportunities that result from technological transformations to our economy.
9/19/2017
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