Lack of Access to Technology and Poor Data Present Challenges for Low and Middle Skill Workers’ Ability to Find Good-paying Careers
Published by JPMorgan Chase
Technology innovations that match job seekers with employers are transforming the labor market, but these tools are not doing enough to help low and middle skill workers find quality jobs, according to a new JPMorgan Chase report. Both access and design issues are preventing potential employees and employers from identifying the appropriate job fit.
The report, “Swiping Right for the Job: How Tech is Changing Matching in the Workforce”, highlights the problems low and middle skilled workers and employers face in using technology, explores how tech is changing labor market interactions, and identifies the benefits, challenges and design changes required for labor market technology to have its greatest impact.
“Despite an increase in technology usage, we’re seeing missed opportunity in job matching due to design flaws and access barriers,” said Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase. “We’ve identified how to more efficiently connect people with the jobs and training they need and if we turn these lessons learned into smarter tools, we’ll create economic opportunity for everyone.”
Labor market matching technology exists primarily online, and low- and middle-skill workers, who typically have wages below the median, are disproportionately likely to lack access to computers and the internet at home. Only sixty-three percent of those with a household income between $20,000 and $50,000 have access to broadband internet at home, compared to 80 percent of those with a household income between $50,000 and $75,000.
While job seekers with varying degrees of education use their smart phones for job searching at approximately the same rate, job seekers who have not attended college are much more likely to go through the cumbersome process of using their smart phones to fill out an online job application and create a resume or cover letter than those who have graduated from college. Also, low- and middle-skill workers are more likely to lack proficiency in using computers and the Internet, making it difficult to navigate labor market matching technology.
“JPMorgan Chase’s report underscores that too many skilled workers are being overlooked due to fixable architecture flaws in job matching technology,” said Byron Auguste, President and Co-Founder, Opportunity@Work. “When we design tools to take into account an individual’s personal nature and background, employers will find far better candidates to place in their companies and for a longer period of time.”
One example of a job matching tool design to address these issues is SkillSmart. Their platform is designed to connect job seekers, employers, and educators through mutually identified skills. The program allows employers to specify the skills needed for success in their company and helps individuals find opportunities based on their skillset. SkillSmart’s algorithm calculates how closely an applicant’s skills align with overall employer need. If job seekers do not have the necessary skills for a job they want, SkillSmart will provide suggestions for training opportunities. Additionally, SkillSmart helps educators to include in-demand skills in their curricula.
Based on interviews with 45 industry leaders and an exhaustive review of research, the Swipe Right report highlights that finding the right person for the job is a crucial component of business success, employee wellbeing, worker productivity, and economic health. The consequences of getting the match wrong are high both for employees and employers. The cost of replacing a worker can be as much as 60 percent of an employee’s annual salary.
Without good design, a tool will have limited usefulness and be challenging to implement. Without good implementation, a tool will not achieve its purpose of improved matching and quickly lose relevance. The report includes the following recommendations to improve the design and implementation of job matching technology:
Build with User-Centered Design: Ensure that the tool is easy to use for both employers and job seekers by involving and consulting them throughout the tool design process.
Use Target-Audience Language: The language used in job postings should avoid jargon and be familiar to the target job seeker.
Encourage Skills-based Hiring: Work with employers to foster skills-based job descriptions and hiring practices rather than rely on increasingly irrelevant gatekeeping credentials.
Engage Employers: Align with employers on occupational and skills definitions to develop a shared understanding among employers, training institutions, and job seekers.
Integrate Training Opportunities and Pathways: IInclude easily accessible information on training opportunities to help job seekers gain skills to qualify for their desired positions.
Consider Implicit Bias Mitigation: Reduce implicit bias in the hiring process by creating tools that do not expose employers to signals like names or addresses.
Keep an Eye on National Trends, Use Local Data: A tool that uses local data and corresponds to the realities of the local labor market will be most helpful to current job seekers.
Optimize for Mobile: An online tool should be created to reflect the ways that people use the internet, and mobile optimization is vital for job seekers who lack desktop access.
Support Job Seeker Needs and Access: Regardless of how well a technology tool is designed, some individuals will need in-person guidance, and digital inclusion efforts may be needed to help everyone access the tool.
Ongoing Activation of Industry Partners: Employers need to post their job openings through the tool and ensure that the information reflects their changing hiring needs.
Recognize Need for Continued Refinement and Investment: Since online technology quickly becomes outdated, continued investment is needed to keep a technology tool up-to-date and appealing for users.
Analyze Outcomes: Longitudinal data collection will help ensure that a technology tool aids employers in hiring by illuminating outcomes after the point of hire and helping determine best practices in labor market matching technology.
This project is part of a $250 million, five-year New Skills at Work initiative that JPMorgan Chase & Co. has developed to help inform and accelerate demand-driven skills training and provide greater economic opportunity for all. Launched in 2013, New Skills at Work is providing data-driven analyses, engaging employers in sector partnerships, and supporting training programs that are aligned with local demand.
The full report can be found online at www.jpmorganchase.com./corporate/Corporate-Responsibility/new-skills-workforce-matching-report.htm