This paper discusses the pace of technological advancement and innovation, and the need for both the demand and supply sides of the labor market to evolve to remain economically relevant. The research conducted examines the labor market at the macro and micro levels to describe an understanding about helping employers, job seekers, workforce intermediaries, and education and training providers better align and meet required skills needs of occupations. To make the needs of the labor market understandable for each of these stakeholders and address the problems of reemployment and employability, the paper explains how utilizing detailed work activities (DWAs) required by occupations address labor market needs. DWAs are the discrete and precise activities required of and critical to an occupation. DWAs are described in a common language for comprehension of the content of the work and the context in which it is performed. Further, the specificity of DWAs enhances skills-gap analyses and processes for recognizing transferable skills. Occupations compared against an individual's acquired attributes can be matched more easily on the basis of these activities. For example, making revenue forecasts is one of several DWAs for the occupations of Budget Analyst, Accountants, and Treasurers and Comptrollers. The use of several DWAs provides the specificity needed to appropriately and effectively understand an occupation. When DWAs are used, whether the purpose is for job announcements, resumes, interviews, position descriptions, curriculum development, counseling and job development, all parties in the workforce system and labor market will be speaking and comprehending a similar language. Proper use of DWAs helps employers and human resources staff to develop clearer job descriptions and announcements to more effectively attract and hire, or promote highly qualified workers. In the same context, education and training providers and workforce intermediaries at One-Stops or community-based organizations are also better able to prepare and assist job seekers. Ultimately, the individual job seekers are appropriately trained in the necessary activities required of occupations. Employment opportunities are better aligned with jobseeker interests and specific skill-sets acquired through previous performance of and education and training identified in DWAs. This study also describes the important role of labor market tools in understanding and identifying DWAs necessary for occupations.
Other reports developed for the 2009 ETA Research Papers Program include:
ETAOP 2012-12: The Employment Service in Rural North Carolina: Insights from the "Great Recession"
ETAOP 2012-13: Green Jobs and Career Pathways: An Arranged Marriage in Service to a 21st-Century Workforce Development System