How can you be sure that you are teaching your students and postdocs the right things? Boston University School of Medicine uses workforce data to guide their career development programing. Workforce data provide an evidence based approach to determining workforce needs. By analyzing job listings, you can map these workforce needs onto your career development curriculum and confidently prepare trainees for realistic careers.

The Data

Boston University uses a tool called Labor InsightTM that mines millions of job postings from more than 40,000 sources. This tool provides real time information on the job market, including

  • job titles
  • employers
  • skills (hard, soft, computer)
  • location
  • trends over time

For example, let’s look at Industry Research Careers in 2016. The workforce data presented below can help help answer questions such as

  • Are there more jobs for microbiologists or chemists?
  • Which soft skills should we be teaching our trainees?
  • Will there be more job openings in Research Triangle (Durham-Chapel Hill, NC) or San Diego, CA?




An informed Career Development Program

These data can aid your program on a variety of levels. At the institution level, data can be used to motivate or validate the creation of new courses, garner support for career development, and generally impact culture change. Within career development programs, data can also inform the creation of new workshops and panel sessions. On the individual level, trainees can use data to follow up on Individual Development Plans, use trends to formulate goals, and consider geography in their career planning.


Final Thoughts

For Boston University, some of the findings were unexpected, and others could have been predicted but are used to validate existing curriculum. Be aware that data mining tools are not flawless, and findings should be validated with local professionals. Finally, don’t reinvent the wheel, BU makes some workforce data available on their website. Try it out for yourself!