The Importance of Labor Market Information in Career Guidance
By Liana Jindaryan
The importance of providing accurate labor market information (LMI) to clients dates back to Frank Parsons’ vocational guidance movement. At the center of Parsons’ theory is the concept of matching (a.k.a. the trait and factor theory), that is, an accurate understating of individual traits and knowledge of jobs and the labor market. This concept still governs our current practice –even more so these days – due to rapid technological changes and volatility in the labor market. It is here that the role of accurate LMI becomes an important tool for career practitioners.
Career Practitioners and the Use of Labor Market Information
We are expected to deliver relevant information to accurately depict the reality of the job market as well as enable our clients to explore the information effectively. For instance, to help undecided clients choose a career path, career professionals help clients gather information about how many jobs exist in different fields, how much those fields are growing, and how much jobs in those fields pay. Understanding what the labor market entails and managing information is a key competence of career practitioners. Another important skill is to be able to use LMI with discretion and without bias, always promoting its constructive use. Additionally, career practitioners and educators need more than just understanding the concept of labor market and its interface. They need to be able to:
- Understand the role of LMI in practice (i.e. researching, evaluating, interpreting and presenting LMI)
- Articulate significant trends
- Address client inquiries with regard to LMI and equal employment opportunities
- Develop tailored LMI knowledge
Labor Market Information Resources
All this requires appropriate training, correct tools and timely access to LMI sources. Given the many robust and reliable sources readily available to us these days, it is important that we update and expand our LMI on an ongoing basis. Moreover, leaders and institutions in charge of providing career education must offer quality training and ensure that practitioners are able to use LMI effectively. There are many tools for staying current with LMI. These include traditional resources and technology-based resources, including:
- On-line tools such as Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET Online, NCDA Resources, CalCareers, CalJobs, What Color is Your Parachute? CareerOneStop, PayScale, Glassdoor, etc.
- Off-line tools such as career books, journals, periodicals, employment listings, etc.
- Collaboration with colleagues via conference and industry event attendance, list serves, LinkedIn groups/communities, online forums and classes, message boards, etc.
- Social media platforms like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
So Are You Current on LMI?
If you struggle to come up with an answer to this question, or if the only help you can think of is an outdated resource, then that might signal a need to update your LMI resources. As for any responsible career professional, it is essential for me as well to have LMI at my fingertips. Knowing that my clients and students rely on the information and data I present to them, I continuously develop and update my tool kit with information and resources to be employed when needed.
Parsons, F. (1909). Choosing a Vocation. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Liana Jindaryan, M.S. GCDF, has over 10 years’ experience in higher education serving traditional and non-traditional college students and adults. She has extensive experience in career programming, having designed and delivered workshops and programs related to professional development and growth, job search tools, career management and other skill building. She has also developed and taught career courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and currently teaches a graduate Career Counseling Theories and Techniques course at Pepperdine University. She holds a Master's degree in Career Counseling from California State University, Northridge and is a Global Career Development Facilitator. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org