Why Create a Workforce Model?

The Aligned Workforce Model is designed to shed light on misalignment between education production and workforce needs and to offer solutions that could improve the outcomes we all care about. This is a notional model and is designed to generally guide choices. While we stand behind the trends outlined in the model, it is not designed to provide precise outcomes.  Rather, this model provides a mechanism to frame an on-going, cross sector conversation. (For a printable PDF overview of the model, click here.)

The Challenge

Hiring managers and human resource officers have long used inefficient methods to hire a skilled workforce.  Furthermore, today’s companies increasingly require employees with mastery of core academic knowledge in a given field as well as fundamental workplace competencies. However, these abilities are difficult to measure.

Lacking good data, employers will use degrees and credentials as a proxy and base hiring decisions on the presence of one or more very specific skills (e.g., knowledge of a particular software program, experience with grant writing, or facility in a particular sector) possessed by a candidate.

So what’s the problem with hiring this way?

Today’s jobs require an increasingly complex array of very specific skills.  Moreover, the rate at which these skills change or evolve is increasing rapidly, often leading to skill obsolescence. The imprecise hiring practices created by hiring for these skills alone, with only credentials as a proxy for more complex abilities, create an inefficient system. Read more about demand for what the Hewlett Foundation calls “deeper learning."

Employers that can better align hiring with their workforce needs– including the need for complex abilities– will have better workforce outcomes. Colleges and universities that produce the knowledge and skills needed by employers will drive the economy. This model addresses the question: What would happen if we created policies that align the education and workplace systems?

Model Construction

This notional model is an agent based model that tracks individuals throughout their careers.  Each individual possesses some knowledge, and contains a self-efficacy (or academic mindset) variable and a variable related to rate of learning ability.  Download a PowerPoint presentation explaining how the model works here.

BHEF has used simulation modeling to explore a variety of policy choices to improve education and the workforce.  Read this article, specifically pages 10-12, for an explanation of how we use these tools.


Model Resources