Policy-Driven Workforce Needs in Northwest Florida: IT/Broadband Job Competencies in Metro and Nonmetro Areas
Posted: 1 Apr 2014 Last revised: 20 Sep 2014
Date Written: March 31, 2014
Technology has had a transformative impact on fundamental employment practices. Technology policies have stimulated deployment, adoption and assimilation into the workplace has expanded competencies that employers seek in potential employees and the ways in which employees are recruited, screened and selected (Washbon, 2012). Employers seek workers who possess new technology skills in combination with traditionally-valued fundamentals such as communication skills, collaboration experiences and diversity awareness. Nationally, 73% of unemployed Internet users seek work online (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2005) while nonmetro areas feature the greatest percentage of households in taking classes online and second in conducting job searches online (Katsinas & Moeck, 2002). In nonmetro communities, two and four year colleges are the key institutions providing information technology (IT)/broadband education but studies suggest that IT/broadband curricula may not be aligned with the needs of nonmetro employers (Handel, 2005; Katsinas & Moeck, 2002; Washbon, 2012).
Objective of Paper
This unpublished paper examines and compares the transformative IT/broadband competencies expressed in job postings and those selected by employers in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas in Northwest Florida. This research is part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) study awarded to the authors examining the alignment of and gaps in the role of Career and Technical Education (CTE) program pathways in meeting the needs of nonmetro employers and new professionals who are employed in nonmetro communities.
RQ1: Is there a difference in the job competencies between the job postings from metro and nonmetro areas? RQ2: What is the nature of the job competencies produced by the seven IT/broadband job search terms? RQ3: What is the nature of the job competencies produced by the location and IT/broadband job search terms? RQ4: How are job competencies aligned/misaligned with employers’ perceptions of job competencies needed?
Method of Analysis
This analysis identifies the accurate profile of IT/broadband jobs and desired job competencies (N=225) solicited by employers in Northwest Florida. The desired job competencies from job posting ads were extracted in terms of Knowledge, Skill, and Ability (KSAs) by text mining techniques. The content analysis will be conducted in two levels: 1) metro and nonmetro location level and 2) seven search terms covering diverse job titles :PC support technician, help desk technician, broadband technician, computer repair technician, network technician, network systems technician, and WAN/LAN technicians (RQ1, RQ2 & RQ3). RQ4 will be examined using the interviews with local employers and the results of card sorting to generate the critical desired job competencies.
During October, 2013, a purposive sample of job posting ads (N=225) were collected from 13 different online and offline sources to examine a non-representative subset of the entire universe of job announcements that is tailored to the metro and nonmetro areas served by Tallahassee Community College (TCC) and Chipola College. Employer interviews will be administered to obtain their perception of job competencies needed for the positions. The results of card sorting of job competencies will be collected as well.
Novelty of Research
The NSF ATE study represents a true collaboration of IT/broadband educators, students, employers and community stakeholders concerning broadband. In identifying key competencies using the seven IT/broadband search terms, this study builds upon NSF ATE research that identifies differences in needs for IT/broadband skills between different labor markets. This research meets the challenge of the NSF ATE’s overall goal of improving and supporting the dynamic education of technicians in the workplace who sustain these growing digital efforts and further defines IT/broadband education needed in nonmetro labor markets in communities nationally.
Keywords: Broadband policy, IT education, IT jobs, workforce needs
JEL Classification: O12, O20, O40,
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation