The field of VR has increased its focus on labor market information (LMI) as a direct response to the both the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the President’s Executive Order on Job Driven Training of January 2014. In light of this focus, the ICI set out to explore LMI’s use and utility for state VR agencies.
In 2014, the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Demand-Side Strategies (RRTC on Demand Side Strategies) surveyed VR business relations staff to learn how they used LMI. In 2015, the JD-VRTAC conducted focus groups and surveys of SVRA leadership and direct service staff about their LMI needs. The findings from these surveys and focus groups also contributed to the development of the LMI Community of Practice (CoP).
In 2014, the RRTC on Demand Side Strategies surveyed SVRAs to learn about their investment in business relations functions including the use of Labor Market Information. In 2015, the Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center (JD-VRTAC) conducted focus groups and surveys of state VR agency (SVRA) leadership and direct service staff about their LMI needs. The findings from these surveys and focus groups contributed to the development of the LMI CoP, about understanding the effectiveness of LMI for VR.
Demand-Side Survey on Business Relations
Researchers from the ICI’s RRTC on Demand Side Strategies conducted two national surveys of the 80 state VR agencies’ (SVRAs) business relations activities. One was conducted in 2014 and another in 2017. This report summarizes data from the 2014 survey that included 67 SVRA respondents. The survey included a series of questions on the use of LMI. In 2014, 91% of respondents stated that their VR agency was using LMI in one form or another. Traditional sources of LMI were especially popular: 89% of responding agencies reported using data from one or more of these sources. Real-time LMI sources were less widely accessed, with only 22% of agencies reporting use of those sources.
In 2014, SVRAs most frequently reported using LMI sources from state departments, such as the State Department of Labor (92%); federal entities, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (70%); and internal sources, such as VR agency-generated data (46%). SVRAs most commonly used LMI elements including data related to occupational growth, industry sectors, and unemployment forecasts.
The 2014 survey found that VR agencies appeared to be confused about what LMI was, and what various LMI terms meant. One limitation of this 2014 survey is that VR agencies may have interpreted the term “real-time” LMI differently from the intended meaning in the survey, which contributed to responses of low usage. It is likely that VR agencies assumed “real-time LMI” included any LMI that business relations staff shared with counselors. Real-time LMI provides information based on aggregated online job postings.
In more recent data collection efforts, RRTC researchers have tried to clarify how and at what point of VR service delivery LMI is being used most often. Findings from the 2017 survey of SVRAs will highlight the changes in business relations functions and LMI use. Amid increasing emphasis on SVRA LMI use, the LMI CoP helped to highlight emerging trends about how LMI may help SVRAs better serve their consumers.
JD-VRTAC LMI Focus Groups
In 2015, the JD-VRTAC conducted focus groups of SVRA leadership and direct service staff about their LMI needs. Both VR leadership and direct service staff emphasized the need for LMI integration into practice, and internal agency marketing about LMI. Specifically, direct service staff wanted to know how LMI could make their jobs easier and lead to better consumer outcomes. SVRA directors and other leadership staff confirmed the need for more comprehensive counselor understanding of how to access and use the LMI that they collect. SVRA leaders also expressed the need for better real-time LMI tools that could be integrated into VR case management systems.
JD-VRTAC LMI Needs Assessment
The JD-VRTAC conducted a survey in 2015 of VR agency staff about their resources, tools, and technical assistance (TA) needs around job-driven topics, including LMI. Most VR agencies expressed the need for TA around using LMI to improve services to VR consumers, and collecting and integrating LMI data into agency operation.