With decreasing federal spending and increasing global competition, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board of Directors decided to make strengthening the region’s economy a top priority. Focused on improving economic competitiveness in the metropolitan Washington region, COG set out to explore a key economic indicator – jobs.
Taking the first step in the process, COG obtained a license for Burning Glass’ Labor Insight database in December 2015 to evaluate workforce demands in the region. The database pulls millions of job postings from over 40,000 websites each day, and reports the occupations, skills, and education requirements.
“This is an emerging data source and provides labor market information that wasn’t readily available in the past,” said COG Transportation Planner Nicole McCall, who has been instrumental in moving the project forward. “The data tells us what occupations are in greatest demand, and the skills and education needed by workers to fill those jobs.”
As the primary researcher, McCall learned about the database, analyzed patterns, and worked closely with senior staff to draw conclusions from the data. The results will be presented to the COG Board at their next meeting.
The most challenging part of the project McCall recalls, “There is so much interesting information and it is difficult to decide where to hone in and determine what story the data tells.”
The research also predicts future job trends. From the job postings data, we can get an idea about where the region’s economy is heading, and help better prepare workers, said McCall.
“We hope this information generates greater discussion about workforce development across the region,” McCall said. “Being able to attract and retain talent is extremely important to promoting economic competitiveness.”
The next phase of the research will utilize the job postings data to identify the occupations, skills, certifications, and education requirements needed for jobs in the seven industry clusters that have high economic potential for the region, as highlighted in COG’s State of the Region: Economic Competitiveness Report and the current regional Global Cities Initiative. Those seven industries are advocacy, information and communication technology, science and security technology, bio and health technology, business and financial services, media and information, and business and leisure travel.
In addition to the Trends in Workforce Demands report, McCall, who joined COG in July 2012, has worked on several other major research projects, including the COG Cooperative Forecasts, Travel Demands Report, and Air Passenger Survey. She also provides technical support to the Regional Transportation Data Clearinghouse and District Department of Transportation’s traffic monitoring program.
Outside of work, McCall is an avid cyclist and is currently preparing to ride with her husband for eight days in California from Eureka to San Francisco, which is approximately 50 miles a day.