LMI: Bring it to the Next Level
by David Hoff
Staff members at your vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency are probably familiar with labor market information, or LMI. It’s the collection of data or analysis related to a particular labor market, including economic and business trends that can be used to make decisions. VR systems often use LMI for planning documents and grant applications. But there are other ways to use the power of LMI in your agency’s day-to-day operations. In fact, LMI can help your agency assist individual job seekers, conduct general employer outreach, and develop your short- and long-term agency plans. Here are some tips about where to get your LMI, and how to use it to improve results for the job seekers you serve.
Traditional versus Real-time LMI
The primary source of LMI for your VR agency is your state’s LMI system. This is sometimes called “traditional LMI.” This information is comprehensive, and is collected using consistent methods, such as census data and employment statistics.
A newer form of LMI is known as “real-time LMI.” This consists of information and data from online job listings. Real-time LMI reflects the current state of the labor market, while traditional LMI is often at least three to six months old. However, because real-time LMI relies only on online job listings as its source data, it is incomplete and inconsistent.
Think of traditional and real-time LMI as complementary sources of information, and use them both.
What LMI can do for your agency
LMI can help you and your VR agency to:
- Guide job seekers to positions that are a good match for their skills and interests.
- Inform job seekers about specific businesses in a particular sector or industry.
- Counsel job seekers on current and future needs of the labor market.
- Ensure that all your training and education options help job seekers obtain in-demand skills that lead to long-term career success.
- Offer insights into growing industries and sectors, businesses with openings that provide good wages and benefits with career growth, etc.
- Provide accurate information that can be integrated within VR state plans, and can aid you with short- and long-term planning.
Let’s get strategic
LMI can help your agency access a wide array of data, conduct custom searches, and develop detailed reports. Your staff should also consider more strategic approaches to using LMI:
- Providing guidance to job seekers regarding career choices and specific job openings
- Making employer outreach decisions
- Informing resource allocations
- Conducting planning and evaluation at the state and local level
How can you get started with all this? First, evaluate:
- Whether LMI is being used by your VR system
- If so, how it’s being used
- Whether the current uses of LMI are effective in guiding decision-making
- How the use of LMI could be improved to maximize its potential
Next, partner with your state’s LMI unit. Discuss strategies for making LMI available in formats that are responsive to the needs of the VR system--and those of the people you serve.
Such an effort should answer these questions:
- What kinds of LMI are available, and which will be most beneficial to your agency?
- Which LMI format will be most useful, both for planning and at the counselor and job seeker level?
- What kind of training and infrastructure is needed for your staff to make better use of LMI?
- How can you ensure that LMI is used on a consistent and integrated basis?
If VR agencies take a more strategic approach to LMI, the potential impact is significant--both for meeting the needs of individual job seekers, and for using VR resources in a more efficient and effective manner.
For more on LMI, check out the Job-Driven LMI Toolkit.
How does your VR system use LMI? What’s your experience with traditional and real-time LMI sources? Share your thoughts in the comments.