Burning Glass Technologies

Shadow of a female looking at data on a screen

In a period of rapid technological change the mix of skills required to be agile in an ever-evolving employment market are similarly undergoing commensurate change.

With advances in technology and increasing automation, some skills and jobs are fast becoming redundant, while skill requirements in fast growth areas are shifting faster. A deep understanding of in demand skills now and in the future enables those in the job and education markets to ensure they have or develop the right skill set needed in accordance with predicted demand, as well as ensuring a pipeline of aptly skilled workers for the future. Burning Glass Technologies is an analytics software company that provides real-time data on job growth, skills in demand, and labour market trends. Through detailed analysis, Burning Glass Technologies has developed a dynamic skills taxonomy to measure the evolution of skill requirements in the labour market, enabling a deep understanding of the relationships between skills, jobs, and industries – which can be used to show skills evolution for jobs, specific skill sets desired within industry and predict skill and job markets of the future[1].

What is Burning Glass Technology?

Burning Glass Technologies (BGT) uses artificial intelligence technology to analyse millions of job postings, resumes and social profiles to provide insight into labour market patterns – to deliver job market analytics that empower employers, workers and educators to make data-driven decisions[2]. The data means BGT can ‘track how the skills requirements for a given job are evolving, how skill requirements differ from industry to industry – and even within the same occupation – as well as which skills are growing fastest, and which skills are most valuable to employers[3]. BGT identifies three skill types: Baseline skills; Technical skills; and Software skills, which are further organised into a skills hierarchy to assist users navigate the rich data sets. Skills metadata includes: skill descriptions; demand; projected growth; market salary; and similar skills – which recognizes the most similar skills that align with an identified skill allowing for a range of jobs which someone might qualify for.

In addition to identifying current skill gaps and demand BGT has developed a methodology to predict future skills demand – which BGT depict as a model with 92% accuracy in ‘projecting and quantifying changes in the demand for specific skills over a two-year horizon[4]. The technology has been engaged by a number of prominent institutions to gain foresight into skills demand to attract and retain workers, including the Harvard Business School who partnered with Accenture and Burning Glass Technologies to develop a skills framework for businesses to meet identified skills gaps[5]. The technology has enormous scope in affording employers, learning providers and individuals the ability to prioritize initiatives and engagement with skills that have been identified as most important. For example, the technology was used to highlight the emerging demand and exponential growth in cybersecurity in the US in 2014, with the job market intelligence identifying a gap between the demand for cybersecurity jobs and the pool of qualified candidates – with demand far outstripping supply[6]. A trend seemingly replicated here in Australia.

BGT has developed a single global skills taxonomy, which can be localised – including in Australia. In 2019, the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group and Burning Glass Technologies, compiled the report ‘Reskilling Australia – a data-driven approach’, to explore how labour market analysis could assist Australia to respond to changing demands for skills resulting from evolving workplaces due to new technology, globalisation, changing demography and consumer preferences[7]. While it must be acknowledged that the report was prepared pre-COVID 19, the analysis enabled the Department to forecast five-year employment projections, in which the health (and community services) industry is projected to attract the largest growth in Australia (perhaps more-so now due to the impact of the pandemic). The report also outlines a snapshot of projected Australian job changes 2018-2023, with a breakdown of gender, employment (current/predicted) and whether the occupation group is predicted to grow or decline over the forecast period.

Burning Glass Technologies: Employment & Education

BGT, via real-time labour market data, could therefore be utilised to help students make better education and career decisions. In addition to the skill taxonomy, BGT developed their Education Solution suite – which includes Program Insight, a real-time labour tool that allows learning providers to assess the employer demand for proposed programs through comparing current and proposed programs with market demand[8]. Pressure has been building on higher education institutions to ensure graduates have the necessary skills required to ensure they are employable. In the current and post-COVID climate, Governments, students and employers demand that engagement in education result in tangible, desirable career opportunities. Educators must ensure that programs align with the need of both current and future job markets – pivotal in a climate where job opportunities are scarce and competition is high, especially as we envision a society post-COVID.

Knowledge about which skills are tracking to be in highest demand and those which are becoming obsolete provides advantages across cohorts. Healthy and resilient economies, and therefore societies, are contingent on a supply and pipeline of suitably qualified workforce to meet demand. Foresight into skills demand enables business and industry to engage in strategic workforce planning; for Governments it may inform public policy through insights surrounding supply of and demand for skills and jobs; for education providers it may highlight and revitalise programs to ensure adequately trained workers for the future, and for the individual it may enable informed decisions around engagement in learning opportunities, education and career pathways[9]. In a period prescribed as the Reskilling Revolution technology is firmly embedded within the fabric of society and opportunities to strategically engage and develop the workforce never more paramount. BGT offers an opportunity to highlight and address skill demand and deficit which in turn can enable initiatives aimed at closing the skills gap and provision of training for tomorrow’s workers for future careers, assisting communities fill in-demand jobs and positioning learners for long-term success. The technology has the potential to aid educational providers build training programs aligned to demand – ensuring that learners have the requisite academic, digital literacy, personal and social capability skills[10].

Knowledge of skills demand enable organisations and individuals to pre-empt, mitigate, prepare or adapt readily to movement across job markets. Accurate forecasts pertaining to skill demand also enables education providers and business to be responsive in the planning and delivery of education products that ensure employability of graduates and a ready supply of tomorrow’s workers for the future. Measures for building successful employability programs include short courses and micro-credentials, which continue to grow in popularity and demand as individuals seek opportunities to up-skill and re-skill throughout their career trajectory and in response to skill evolution across sectors. Micro-credentials are fast gaining traction in bridging skills gaps, re-skilling and up-skilling through offering shorter-form credentials that emphasize learning outcomes for specific skills, provided in a flexible, cost-effective package that also allows employers to identify suitably qualified candidates and articulate skills gaps (through open badging or certification).

Footnotes

[1]Burning Glass Technologies White Paper, September 2019, Mapping the Genome of Jobs, viewed 15 July 2020, https://www.burning-glass.com/research-project/skills-taxonomy/

[2] Study Uses Big Data to Quantify Shifting Demand for Jobs and Skills, September 12, 2019 Press Release, viewed 20 July 2020: https://www.bcg.com/press/12september2019-whats-trending-in-jobs-and-sk…

[3] Mapping the Genome of Jobs, 2019.

[4] Mapping the Genome of Jobs, 2019 p. 7.

[5] Closing the Middle-Skills Gap, Community College Journal December 2014/January 2015: 85, 3, p. 19.

[6] Burning Glass Technologies; The Cybersecurity Talent Market: Rapid Growth Pushing Demand Ahead of Supply, Journal of Engineering, Atlanta, 19 March 2014: 1412.

[7] Reskilling Australia - A data-driven approach, Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, July 2019: https://docs.employment.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/jsb19-0122_future…

[8] Burning Glass Technologies; Program Insight Gives Higher Education Ability to Check Learning Against the Job Market, Education Letter, Atlanta, 24 May 2017.

[9] Strack R; Kaufman E; Kotsis A; Sigelman M; Restuccia D & Taska B, 2019, What’s Trending in Jobs and Skills, Burning Glass Technologies

[10] Bailey K & Darling T, 2015/2016, ‘Where industry meets academia’, Community College Journal, Dec 2015/Jan 2016; 86, 3, P 6.

Michelle Campbell
Education Transformation
Division of Academic and Student Engagement (DASE)
The University of Adelaide

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