The fundamental challenge facing workforce and education policymakers is keeping pace with the changing economy and skill needs of American business. To meet this challenge, up-to-date and accessible workforce information -- comprehensive data and analysis about the labor market -- is more important than ever. Good workforce information allows policymakers and program operators to target education and training investments, so that they produce the best possible returns. A deep understanding of the labor market also is a prerequisite for developing demand-driven workforce and economic strategies. Without good information, it is nearly impossible to design effective sectoral programs, career pathways, or economic growth strategies.
Workforce information also is a vital resource for individuals entering a complex and unstable labor market. Accessible and useful workforce information can guide young people and those already in the workforce toward promising jobs and careers that support advancement and income growth. It also helps employers make decisions about where to locate their business, whether to expand, and where to find the qualified workers they need to stay competitive.
Recognizing the importance of high-quality labor market data and analysis, the New York City Workforce Investment Board (the WIB) began to focus on improving access to workforce information. In 2005, the WIB adopted a strategic plan that cited the need for good, timely, and local workforce information that could be used to support employment-related decisions by job seekers, businesses, and other stakeholders. The WIB envisioned its role as a potential hub of New York City labor market data and analysis. In 2006, the WIB engaged the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey to map the landscape of workforce information in New York City and to Background recommend a design for a local system that would collect and disseminate that information.