Getting down to the nitty-gritty on local labour market data

Recent weeks have seen much discussion around informing hiring demand by analyzing online job ads.  While this is not a new practice, it is important to recognize that there are various systems available in the market that establish such data sets, each with its own methodology and process.

Given the prevalence of online tools used by both employers and job seekers, and the rapid proliferation of data, it’s important for those in workforce and economic development to understand the opportunities, and challenges, of tracking hiring demand by analyzing online job ads. This is particularly relevant given the need for more detailed local labour market data in communities across Canada (the Auditor-General highlighted this information blind spot in his latest report).

Since 2012, MDB Insight has been working withVicinity Jobs to provide a way for communities to understand local labour market demand using data harvested from the Internet.  What we’ve learnt is that the key is to use appropriate sources and a sound methodology to identify valid postings. Recognizing the potential limitations of free classified sites, for example, Vicinity Jobs uses only those sites that have passed  its validation process. Vicinity Jobs also addresses the challenge of duplication by supplementing the deduplication done by its servers with manual deduplication by Quality Assurance experts. If you’d like to see how this data is being used in communities, take a look at some of the reports created by Workforce Planning Hamilton. Here’s what a couple of people who use the Jobs Demand Report have to say:

“Important for me to understand is how demand for labour is changing over time. The information helps paint a picture of trends in an occupation in the short and long term and is used to determine the type of investments or policies that can be made by the municipality in order to benefit our community. The last time we tried this on our own, it took us two weeks with two people just to interview 59 employers. Now, we can monitor the labour movement of an entire region on a daily basis.

There is no question that using the hiring demand monitoring and reporting service provided by Vicinity Jobs and MDB Insight provides me with the right information at the right time and is pivotal to understanding the dynamic and highly competitive job market environment.”

Stacey Crawford, Economic Development Officer at the District of Mission

“Our community relies on Workforce Planning Hamilton to provide accurate and up-to-date local labour market information. Using Vicinity Jobs’ technology platform, we are able to access detailed hiring demand data including occupations, industry and employment information that is not available elsewhere. The demand reporting system allows us to create quarterly job vacancy reports which job seekers and community partners alike love for their relevancy, timeliness and accessibility.”

Judy Travis, Executive Director at Workforce Planning Hamilton

Current, reliable labour market information available through online sources, when extracted and analyzed through a controlled process, can inform labour activity at the local level.  The bottom line is that sound data supports smarter decisions, helping to create opportunities for communities and people across Canada.

This post originally appeared in TINAN 55Subscribe to TINAN to get the latest economic development news and resources.