Florida taps education analytics platform to boost employment
- By Stephanie Kanowitz
- Jul 28, 2021
The Florida Department of Education will use a cloud-hosted data and analytics platform to help policymakers and educational institutions determine the best use of funding and resources for education and workforce planning.
PAIRIN’s My Journey platform will aggregate data in real time from multiple sources in an Amazon Web Services cloud. It will include data from job boards, Florida school districts and colleges and the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity, Education and the Children and Family Services Department.
Then it will analyze the data so state agency officials can see what occupations are in the highest demand and how effective educational programs are at credentialing people to get jobs in those areas. It will also help officials understand how long it will take once someone gets a job to achieve economic self-sufficiency.
“It is a priority for us in Florida to put residents on pathways to prosperity,” said Henry Mack, chancellor for career, technical and adult education at the state’s Department of Education. “To do that, we need the intelligence tools that can aggregate and analyze the sufficient and right data.”
Currently, Florida collects data on course completion, placement and wage earnings and applies descriptive analyses, but officials don’t make inferential conclusions such as how much someone’s training in a given program contributed to their job attainment, retention and pay rate, Mack said. With the new platform, officials will be able to determine what educational program will make someone self-sufficient -- and how quickly.
“That kind of visualization requires the integration of so much data [that must] be analyzed in a very sophisticated fashion,” he said. For instance, the state needs to understand what programs are being offered where and how well they produce hirable graduates.
Additionally, the data the state currently gets comes in multiple forms and requires significant time and effort to convert into standardized, usable formats. The new platform will automatically collect data in real time, saving time in addition to providing more current and useful information.
Those insights will let officials identify whether the state’s education resources are sufficient to fill market demand for a specific certification and identify whether the skills being developed through credentialing programs are meeting employer’s needs, PAIRIN CEO and Chairman Michael Simpson said.
By integrating data from different agencies -- such as graduation data, program outcome data, skills mapping for programs and credentials for occupations -- and tying it to current and projected labor market information, the platform will help the state determine whether it will reach employment goals. For instance, if the state has had 8,000 cybersecurity positions open for more than 120 days, then even if all the cyber programs are fully attended and everyone graduates with honors, openings will remain, Simpson said.
Another sample use case involves understanding whether $10 million of taxpayer money invested in an aviation school will generate a worthwhile return, Mack said.
PAIRIN will lead a team of companies including Credential Engine, Qlarion, Research Improving People’s Lives and SkillsEngine to deliver the data analytics capabilities through My Journey. Because the platform is hosted by AWS, it would be easily transferrable to other states to use with their own data, Simpson said.
Announced at the end of June, the Florida platform is in the first phase of development, which is the backend business intelligence and data analytics platform for use by state officials. The system is slated to go live in May 2022, when the focus will shift to a public-facing component of My Journey that lets individuals create accounts to look for, apply to and track jobs.
This project came about in response to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Executive Order 1931, which charged the departments of Education and Economic Opportunity and the workforce development agency CareerSource Florida with figuring out ways to make the state first in the country for workforce education and training by 2030.
“He wants to move the Florida economy from the 17th largest economy in the world to the 10th,” Mack said. “To do that, you need to have a pretty robust strategy around how you are educating and training your residents to meet not only critical occupations that are in demand, but to anticipate emerging occupations and understand what programs are out there that can do a great job of training residents with the kind of essential 21st-century skills they need.”
Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.