Publication Date

1997

Comments

The Center for Economic Development at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, is part of the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department, and is funded by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the University of Massachusetts.

Abstract

The North Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Board (NCMREB) is a not-for- profit agency that serves the cities of Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster, and the surrounding 20 towns. It is one of 16 regional employment boards in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and is "responsible for ' the oversight, coordination, and policy making' of publicly funded employment and training programs that serve all age groups." (Courtesy of NCMREB)

The challenge that the NCMREB faces is in keeping abreast of the rapidly changing labor needs of industries in the region. The more the NCMREB knows about the needs and qualities of the peoples and industries it serves, the more effective it can be in weaving and strengthening the links between job seekers, industries, and educators.

Researching and analyzing labor market information (LMI) for specific regions and industries is undertaken all over the country by various consultants, municipalities, and insurance companies. The value of such expertise and research is in no way discounted by this report. However, there is a high price-tag associated with such expertise, and service agencies such as the NCMREB must often make sacrifices on the frequency and comprehensiveness of such expert input and primary research. Consequently, this study looks not only at the types, sources, and potential sources of comprehensive regional labor market information, but also the ease of obtaining and maintaining this data in a way that allows direct comparisons to regional, state, and national labor market trends.

This report finds that the best strategy for obtaining and maintaining labor market information involves three key components. First is a standardized descriptive component. This component includes the classification of participating industries using the widely accepted Standard Industrial Codes (SIC) as an industry descriptor, and O*NET, the Department of Labor's new system for occupational classification, as the descriptor for occupations. Second is a data collection component which consists of soliciting firms in the region for a list occupations at each firm identified by O*NET code, as well as a list of job vacancies identified by O*NET code. The third component is the development of published products. The NCMREB can offer custom reports to each individual participating firm. In addition to custom reports the NCMREB can provide the general public with reports containing current labor market information (LMI). This can be done via the World Wide Web and through annual reports.

With the power of complete and current data to support their efforts and the means to disseminate this information, the NCMREB will have the ability to efficiently and effectively establish, encourage, and strengthen links between job seekers, industries, and educators.

Pages

Section 6: Pages 1-17