Workforce Data Standards (US0108)
) Foster the Expansion of Workforce Data Standards The American economy is undergoing a rapid transformation; entire industries are being reshaped. From manufacturing to healthcare, retail to transportation – no sector is immune to the collective impact of emerging technologies. In the years ahead, data will serve an increasingly vital role in navigating these rapid changes. It is important to provide current and future job seekers, employers, educators, researchers, and policy makers with the data necessary to make informed decisions and achieve positive outcomes. Toward that end, the President has tasked the National Council for the American Worker (NCAW) with developing strategies to leverage data in three fundamental areas: - Create increased transparency around educational outcomes; - Provide increased transparency over job posting data; - Ensure transparency over data for skills/credentials leading to family-sustaining jobs.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
“The National Council for the American Worker (NCAW) [will] develop [sic] strategies to leverage data in three fundamental areas: create increased transparency around educational outcomes; provide increased transparency over job posting data; ensure transparency over data for skills/credentials leading to family-sustaining job outcomes.”
Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see the United States’ action plan at: https://open.usa.gov/assets/files/NAP4-fourth-open-government-national-action-plan.pdf.
IRM Design Report Assessment
Access to information; technology and innovation for transparency and accountability
This commitment fosters expanding workforce data standards in an economy of emerging technologies and the increasing role of data in assessing those technologies’ impacts. The National Council for the American Worker will leverage data to (1) increase transparency around educational outcomes, (2) increase transparency in job posts, and (3) ensure transparency in data for credentials leading to family-sustaining jobs. This commitment is a partial continuation of Commitment 9 of the U.S.’ third NAP,  which aimed to increase access to workforce data by developing the Occupational Information Network to include an “internet-wide inter-operability scheme covering training, skills, job, and wage listings.”
The National Council for the American Worker was established via a 2018 Executive Order (E.O.).  The Council must develop “a national strategy to ensure that America’s students and workers have access to affordable, relevant, and innovative education and job training that will equip them to compete and win in the global economy.”  The Council’s underlying impetus—and thus that of the commitment—was twofold: (1) the large number of unfilled jobs in the U.S., estimated at 6.7 million, and (2) the disruptive impact of new technology, including artificial intelligence, on the job market, and the necessity of training workers for new jobs with new technologies.  Beyond the NAP4 commitment, the Council develops recommendations for a national strategy to empower American workers and coordinates cooperative and information-sharing activities between federal, nonprofit, and private sector employers and stakeholders on training the American workforce. 
Per E.O. section 7(e), the Council had 180 days to (1) “recommend a specific course of action for increasing transparency related to education and job-training program options, including those offered at 4‑year institutions and community colleges;” (2) “propose ways to increase access to available job data, including data on industries and geographic locations with the greatest numbers of open jobs and projected future opportunities, as well as the underlying skills required to fill open job;” and (3) “propose strategies for how best to use existing data tools to support informed decision making for American students and workers.”  These actions are similar to those in Commitment 4, albeit without direct mention of “family-sustaining jobs.” The last action, by contrast, falls more under the purview of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, established in the same E.O. and mandated to “to offer diverse perspectives on how the Federal Government can improve education, training, and re-training for American workers.”  A federal “Pledge to America’s Workers” invites companies and trade groups to “expand programs that educate, train, and reskill American workers form high-school age to near-retirement.”  More than 300 companies had signed the pledge at the time of writing, resulting in 12 million training opportunities envisioned through 2023−2024. 
Regarding the commitment’s first activity, the National Skills Coalition notes that students and employers lack clear data on employment and earning prospects for postsecondary programs.  Many existing programs, including the Department of Education’s surveys of postsecondary students, omit employment and earnings information.  While the well-known College Scorecard does include earnings data from the Department of the Treasury, it only tracks students receiving federal education assistance and reports outcomes by institution versus by program.  More transparency surrounding educational outcomes is warranted.
Regarding the second proposed activity, the E.O. defines greater transparency in job postings as greater access to job posting data, “including data on industries and geographic locations with the greatest number of open jobs and projected future opportunities, as well as the underlying skills required to fill open jobs, so that American students and workers can make…informed decisions…regarding their education, job selection, and career paths.”  The proposed activity stems directly from the growing gap in job skills, as the number of unfilled jobs in America continues to hover near record highs.  Though the skills gap has myriad underlying causes, the rational underlying this second activity is that greater transparency surrounding the professional and educational qualities sought by employers will close the gap, and is therefore of material benefit to both American workers and employers (by reducing their labor search costs).
Regarding the third proposed activity, “family-sustaining jobs” are jobs that generate sufficient income to sustain a family as opposed to an individual. Forty-four percent of all American workers aged 18−64 have low-wage jobs resulting in median annual earnings of $17,950 and corresponding to median hourly wages of $10.22.  MIT’s living wage calculator calculates the minimum wage necessary for a family’s basic needs  and found the living hourly wage for a family of four (including two children) was $16.07 in 2016−2017.  It follows that a near-majority of all American workers fail to earn a family-sustaining wage. The commitment’s goal of ensuring access to data on credentials for family-sustaining jobs would help individuals better assess the required skills and credentials.
The commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information due to its emphasis on increasing public transparency surrounding job data. Transparency, as referenced in the commitment, refers to access to information on workforce data versus actual transparency in the data. The commitment is also relevant to technology and innovation given the emphasis on the availability of data.
The commitment has a minor potential impact owing to the lack of specificity surrounding the scope of data targeted on educational outcomes, job postings, and skills for family-sustaining jobs. Furthermore, the commitment is vague on how exactly data would be leveraged to close the skills gap and facilitate greater public access to family-sustaining jobs, particularly regarding how the resulting data will be distributed to both workers and firms (e.g., via an online database similar to the College Scorecard). Barring further clarity on these issues, the IRM researcher assesses that the commitment is unlikely to have a substantial impact on workforce outcomes.