Thursday, September 30, 2010

college workforce supply/demand - methodology

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In conclusion, we have proofed that the methodology we used does allow us to identify both the definitely over supply and under supply academic programs. To put this in plain English, it means that if we labeled an academic program over supply, the program is definitely over supply - no matter how you simulate the hiring based on the crosswalks. The same is true for the under supply academic programs. Our designation, however, does not suggest to the policy maker to increase the number of graduates of all under supply academic programs to the amount of shortages since some of the programs are related.

This article is a technical note that described the research methodology employed in the analysis of my previous article titled 'workforce supply/demand higher education - Nebraska'.

Updated June 8, 2015: An improved approach provides better directions for program management agency or policy maker.

The whole idea behind the analysis is what we called the worst case scenario analysis, which is commonly used in simplify a complicate problem so that some guidance for further analysis can be devised. A common result of such analysis is the lower bound or upper bound of a variable of interest.

The problem of the supply and demand interaction between higher education and workforce is a complex one. It is not mathematically challenge but nevertheless a complex one. The goal is aimed to understand how college/higher education graduates are fed into the workforce.

The ground work to the problem was laid years ago. Researcher and workforce development workers, after years of study, have documented the field and the level of knowledge needed for each occupation. In the same time, crosswalk tables were created that linked each academic program to the related occupation. In the crosswalk framework, the occupation is classified by the so called 'Standard Occupational Code' (SOC) and the academic program is classified by the 'Classification of Instructional Program' (CIP) code and the degree level awarded.

The complexity of the problem rooted at the fact that the crosswalks between the academic program and the occupation is not a single one to one map. As we can all image that graduates from one academic program can be fed into more than one occupation. The reverse of that is alos true: An occupation can accept graduates from more than one academic programs. It is this complexity that have limited most analysis to a smaller scale. For example, a Texas supply and demand study only focused on few big categories and the 'The Occupational Supply Demand System' website only provides tools for navigating between academic programs and occupations.

An additional complexity is also exist that the education classification system used to classify the occupation is not directly compatible with that used to classify the academic program either. For our study, since we are only interested in college educated graduates, all jobs classified with less than college degree requirement are discarded based on the idea that, for most cases, it wouldn't worth the investment for a college graduates to take that kind of jobs. In order to address the incompatibility between the two education classification system, a new education classification is improvised which allows the creation of a one to one map, in the mathematical sense, from both the academic and the occupational system to the new classification. The mapping is outlined below:

AcademicOursOccupational



Less Than 1 Year AwardsLess than 2 year certificatesPostsecondary vocational training
Between 1 and 2 Years AwardsLess than 2 year certificatesPostsecondary vocational training
Associates DegreesAssociate (+Less than 4 year)Associate degree
Between 2 and 4 Years AwardsAssociate (+Less than 4 year)Associate degree
Bachelors DegreesBachelor (+Certificates)Bachelor's or higher degree, plus work experience
Bachelors DegreesBachelor (+Certificates)Bachelor's degree
Post-Bachelors CertificatesBachelor (+Certificates)Bachelor's degree
Post-Bachelors CertificatesBachelor (+Certificates)Bachelor's or higher degree, plus work experience
Masters DegreesMaster (+Certificates)Master's degree
Post-Masters CertificatesMaster (+Certificates)Master's degree
Doctorate DegreesDoctorDoctoral degree
First Professional DegreesFirst Professional (+Certificates)First professional degree
Post-First Professional CertificatesFirst Professional (+Certificates)First professional degree
Doctor's degree - research/scholarshipDoctorDoctoral degree
Doctor's degree - professional practiceFirst Professional (+Certificates)First professional degree
Doctor's degree - OtherDoctorDoctoral degree


In theory, with enough computing power, we can simulate all possible scenarios and draw conclusions from the all possible assumptions. However, that kind of approach could easily bury the intuitive common sense and lost the researcher in the forest of data.

Since our goal is to identify the definitely over-supply and the definitely under-supply academic programs, we chose to use the worse case scenario analysis.

Since the process of establishing the lower bound for over-supply is much straightforward, we will describe it first.

By definition, an academic program is over-supply if there are fewer jobs appropriate for the program than the number of graduates from that academic program. By assuming that all appropriate jobs openings for an academic program are available to graduates from that academic program, we can calculate the number of graduates that could not find a job opening by subtracting the number of job openings from the number of graduates. If the result of the calculation is a postive number, we know the number of graduates would not be able to find the appropriate jobs. In reality, some of the appropriate job openings could be filled with graduates from other academic program and, hence, reduce the number of openings available to our focus academic program. However, the program we identified as over supply will still be over supplying its graduates, just to a bigger amount. The result we arrived is, therefore, a lower bound and the academic program we identified is, therefore, a definitely over supply program.

The process of producing the lower bound for the under-supply academic program is a bit more complicated. The idea begins with that if an academic program produced fewer graduates than what the industry can absorb, then that academic program is a under-supply program. The number of shortage in supply or the number of job openings to fill can be calculated by subtracting the number of graduates from the number of those job openings. As a first attempt, we could proceed the calculation using job openings from all appropriate occupations for a given academic program. However, in reality, some of the appropriate job openings could be filled with graduates from other academic programs. The number we arrived previous is, therefore, an over estimate of the shortage problem. The shortage may not even exist if all those appropriate jobs can be filled with graduates from other academic programs.

To resolve this problem, we begin our first step by identifying all the rival academic programs of our focus academic program. By definition, the rival academic programs are programs that could supply graduates to any of the appropriate job opening of our focus academic program. Once we identified all the rival academic program, we can calculated the total rival graduates by adding all the graduates from these rival academic programs. We, now, recalculate the shortage or the number of job opening to fill by subtracting both the number of graduates of our focus program and the rival graduates from the appropriate job openings of our focus program.In reality, not all rival graduates can fill those appropriate job openings. In that case, the number of job openings to be filled will be larger. The result we arrived is, therefore, an absolute minimum of the number of job openings need to be filled. We, therefore, termed that academic program a definitely under-supply program.

In conclusion, we have proofed that the methodology we used does allow us to identify both the definitely over supply and under supply academic programs. To put this in plain English, it means that if we labeled an academic program over supply, the program is definitely over supply - no matter how you simulate the hiring based on the crosswalks. The same is true for the under supply academic programs. Our designation, however, does not suggest to the policy maker to increase the number of graduates of all under supply academic programs to the amount of shortages since some of the programs are related. Increase the graduates in one academic program may reduce the number of job openings of a rival academic program and move that program off the under supply list.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

For-profit colleges under fire over value, accreditation

Original Article

... we shall all do the the right and justice decision through the course of this revolution.

I think you can find all the related news post and reports.

I believe the title of the article is probably very close to the reality. However, it don't have to be. What I mean is that the for-profit nature of a institution does not have to always produce low value product. It is the regulations that matters. Just think about this, almost of our daily use products are produced by for-profit companies. Even in the world of space industry, NASA isn't over achievement compared with the Scaled.

The current affair is a typical case of finding the weakest to attack. It does not attempt to solve the bigger problem - the accountability. It is reported that while the rule proposed by the Obama administration is intended for the for-profit higher education institutions, non-for-profit institutions voice to against the regulation too - for afraid that the rule may one day applied to the non-for-profit institutions. As far as I am concern, I can't see why not. At least the idea of 'gainful employment' should also applied to public institutions. The low tuition of public institution should not be considered as an exemption since public institution are usually heavily subsidized by tax dollars.

As the article said, it all comes down to the standard. If you have been following education news about accountability, you know the amount resistance from institutions and professors/teachers. I were a teacher before and even though I don't have to like to be evaluated but I am definitely not afraid of being evaluated. Sometimes, I feel that people are over-reacting to the evaluation. In my case, not all my students are the brightest or the hard working type. But to prove that I am not a good teacher, you need more than a test score - for example, they will have to prove that given the same kids, other teacher can do a better job than I can. Yes, I do against firing teachers based sololy on students' test score. But test score itself is not the subject. After all they are objective indicators. The subject is on how to move forward from there. For one, teachers should definitely be given opportunities to present their cases.

For higher education, we all understand that trainings are diverse. However, again, objective measurement is never hurt. Institutions can provide their feedback to the way measurement is done and can ask to clarify what is been measured and can voice their disagreements on their goals of education. The public can look all these information and make decisions and create the market interaction. For example, certain people may considered that the math concept is a definite requirement for a engineer degree and they can choose to attend school with solid math concept program. On the other hand, certain other people may consider, with the computer in mind, that the concept of math isn't as important as it seems, they could be listening to institutions explanation and agreed with them.

With these information in place, people will know exactly what they get and it may happens that it is no longer worth to fabricate a big lie than to actually provide a good services or product.

Personally, I think the for-profit provides a 'private option' to the higher education mix. With its very nature of for-profit, it paid for them to focus everything in efficiency. This could provide a obvious contrast to how public institution is operated. Can these institution success? Given the success of our capitalized private industries, I believe they can given enough flexibility and appropriate regulation - just like all our private companies, we do not specify how much assets they much have, as long as they can produce a good product and did not label anything the product will not do on the product.

Of cause, like we all can image that the success of these institutions could impact our current higher education institutions in big ways. The resistance and hostility from other sectors of the higher education is also expected. But we shall all do the the right and justice decisions through the course of this revolution.

workforce supply/demand higher education - Nebraska

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Related blogs:
college workforce supply/demand - methodology
Job outlook for college graduates - the supply and demand in Nebraska (Data Release)
Updated on June 8, 2015: An improved methodology applied to 2013 IPEDS college graduates using Nebraska's 2012-2022 long term occupation projection.


For governing, the leader should look past the status quo and project the better future for the community. For education, the survival is a necessary and minimum. Seeking to reaching the learning limits of a human being is the goal.

More than 25 years ago, Ronald Reagan's 'A Nation at Risk' called for education reform. Since then, various projects aimed to improve American's education debuted.

Most recently, Barack Obama called for the increase of postsecondary education population. Due part to the economic downturn, the enrollment in postsecondary education do increase. The questions, however, is what kind of education these students are pursuing? In what field? Will the degrees they are getting fit the needs of the community? And, therefore, be able to find a job opening.

Through the years, researchers and workforce developers have been working hard in trying to answer this question. Education levels needed for jobs have been studied and tabulated. Fields of knowledge needed for particular jobs are also studied. Crosswalks between the academic program and the standard occupation code (SOC) have been built. However, even with all these advances the analysis of the data still post challenges.

As we can all imaging, the crosswalks between academic programs (classified by CIP code) and occupations is not a direct one to one mapping. A single academic programs may provides knowledge for several occupations. On the other hand, a single occupation classification may accepts graduates from various academic programs. And it is exactly this madness that limited the mass analysis of the workforce supply and demand data since manually sorting through each academic program or occupation is most likely needed. For example, a Texas supply and demand study only focused on the big categories. Also, the 'The Occupational Supply Demand System' website only provides tools for navigating between academic programs and occupations.

The data and methodology used to present the finding here represents a first attempt to answer this analysis need. The methodology used can be refined at a much higher processing cost but will be attempted later by the author. For now, our first order approach do provide some useful information for researchers and policy makers. This implies that now the governor, the education authorities and the policy maker can really put their thoughts in DESIGNing the future of Nebraska. Contrasting to the past, the decision of approving new academic program can now based on both the market's supply and demand and the students' interest.

Before presenting the findings, the author like to provide a word of caution. Fulfill the job market is not the ultimate goal for governing or education. For governing, the leader should look past the status quo and project the better future for the community. For education, the survival is a necessary and minimum. Seek to reaching the learning limits of a human being is the goal. The author would also like readers to keep perspectives on earnings and personal interest. None of the data presented is intended to emphasis the higher earning of a job.

The top 10 of our oversupplied academic programs are:
  1. 520201 Business Administration and Management (Bachelor training) - at least 539 graduates would not find a degree appropriate job.
  2. 520101 Business/Commerce, General (Bachelor training) - at least 526 graduates ...
  3. 130301 Curriculum and Instruction (Master training) - at least 486 graduates ...
  4. 260101 Biology/Biological Sciences, General (Bachelor training) - at least 470 ...
  5. 511613 Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse(LPN, LVN, Cert, Dipl, AAS) (less than 2 year certificates) - at least 228 ...
  6. 131202 Elementary Education and Teaching (Bachelor training) - at least 217 ...
  7. 220101 Law (LL.B., J.D.) (First Professional) - at least 195 ...
  8. 521401 Marketing/Marketing Management, General (Bachelor training) - at least 177 ...
  9. 511201 Medicine (MD) (First Professional) - at least 150 ...
  10. 512001 Pharmacy (PharmD, BS/BPharm [Canada]) (First Professional) - at least 148 ...

The top 10 of our under-supplied academic programs are:
  1. 490205 Truck/Bus/Commercial Vehicle Operation (Less than 2 year certificates) - at least 578 academic-training-appropriate job openings remain to be filled.
  2. 511601 Nursing - Registered Nurse Training (RN, ASN, BSN, MSN) (Associate training) - at least 330 ...
  3. 139999 Education, Other (Bachelor training) - at least 172 ...
  4. 460302 Electrician (Less than 2 year certificates) - at least 133 ...
  5. 521001 Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration, General (Bachelor training) - at least 109 ...
  6. 110301 Data Processing and Data Processing Technology/Technician (Associate training) - at least 105 ...
  7. 310501 Health and Physical Education, General (Less than 2 year certificates) - at least 96 ...
  8. 011102 Agronomy and Crop Science (Bachelor training) - at least 84 ...
  9. 011106 Range Science and Management (Bachelor training) - at least 84 ...
  10. 011105 Plant Protection and Integrated Pest Management (Bachelor training) - at least 84 ...
  11. 011103 Horticultural Science (Bachelor training) - at least 84 ...
A very interesting observation of these two top 10 list is that the Registered Nurse is in shortage supply while the Practical/Vocational Nurse is oversupplied - I think you can imaging how this can happen with the mis-guided marketing campaign. I would like to see how much money have been wasted in producing these over supplied graduates.

*Detailed data table will be published in the up-coming articles. For interacting with the author, please go to here.