Conducting Labor Market Assessments
A labor market assessment (LMA) may be done on a large or small scale. In the context of Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (JT) programs, the LMA is usually a local effort and is essential to assess the extent and type of education and training needed by local employers.
To complete a comprehensive LMA, all four of the activities below should be conducted.
- Begin with a search of available local LMAs specific to environmental employers and industrial firms. These reports will begin to provide generalized information about the local labor market.
- Use yellow pages and search engines to identify potential employers, manufacturing firms, and temp and manpower organizations.
- Use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN). This massive database combines environmental and demographic indicators in maps and reports. EJSCREEN identifies and locates Superfund sites and major emitters in the community.
- Distribute a survey instrument to potential employers. The survey can be sent to either the entire population or a representative sample.
- Can include a large number of employers.
- Return rate is usually low, and identifying employers who should receive the survey and their addresses can be time-consuming. Because of this, surveying is best handled by institutions that provide administrative and financial support.
- Include a cover letter explaining the purpose of the survey as well as a self-addressed, stamped envelope to return the completed survey.
- A sample LMA survey is provided at the end of this chapter.
- Convene a focus group of potential employers to collect information through a strategic group interview.
- Smaller, more intimate group.
- Easier to plan.
- Information gathered tends to be more detailed than a survey.
- Difficult to find a date and time that works for everyone invited.
- Conduct one-on-one, face-to-face meetings with individual employers.
- Face-to-face meetings with individual employers usually yield more successful results for most JT programs.
There are several issues that may be discussed when conducting LMA activities.
- Type and size of the organization as well as its products and/or services.
- Wage for entry-level personnel.
- Minimum level of education, skills, knowledge, and certifications required for employment.
- Restrictions or constraints that would prevent employment.
- Required work experience for employment.
- Employer’s interest/ability to provide leveraged resources.
- Other organization referrals that may also be interested in hiring well-trained graduates.
Always leave with an action plan, commitment, or closure. Always invite the employer to attend classes, graduations, and social events.
When JT grantees have already formed an advisory board, many programs will rely heavily on their advisory board members, particularly local employers, to provide valuable insight into the types of jobs available at Brownfields sites and the types of skills needed by area employers. To get a better sense of technician-level jobs in the environmental technology field, review the Defining Environmental Technology Report published by the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC). The report identifies thirteen occupational categories and corresponding tasks. Each occupational category includes examples of job titles and tasks typically performed in that area. Share the report with local employers and advisory board members to help narrow the focus on the types of environmental jobs to assess. The advisory board members may also recommend other employers to contact for additional labor market information.
While there are websites that provide national and state labor market information, JT grantees have found community-specific information to be the most useful. Following are examples of professional environmental organizations to contact, some of which have state and local chapters:
- Academy of Certified Hazardous Materials Managers
- Air and Waste Management Association
- Environmental Assessment Association
- Institute of Hazardous Materials Management
- National Association of Environmental Professionals
- National Society of Professional Engineers
- Society of Women Environmental Professionals