ISSUE 16  |  SPRING 2016
Virginia Performs, a signature initiative of the Council, is a performance leadership and accountability system that links a
high-level vision and key goals for citizens with performance-based planning and assessment across all levels of state government.

Open Data, Open Jobs  back to top

The new Commonwealth Center for Advanced Research and Statistics (CCARS), born out of Governor McAuliffe's New Virginia Economy workforce initiatives, is set to launch an open data site that aggregates information on job openings into one shared resource.

We're Hiring sign in orange and blackCCARS's First Project

The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Research and Statistics was created to identify opportunities to enhance education, workforce, and labor market analysis. At the last meeting of the Council on Virginia's Future in late 2015, Executive Director Jane Kusiak announced a partnership with the Governor's Office to sponsor and launch this virtual center.

Earlier this year, CCARS initiated a pilot project to publish an open data set of online advertised job openings in Virginia, with the ultimate goal of giving companies, job seekers, and educators a central, shared resource to better fill open positions across the state. Working with data analytics students from Virginia Tech and George Mason University (via the Governor's Data Internship Program), higher education institutions, and corporate partners such as Glassdoor, the first phase of the project is set to go live in June 2016.

New Resources, New Potential

Dubbed "Open Data, Open Jobs," this new data portal provides access to real-time information on Virginia job postings from public, open resources: the National Labor Exchange, the Virginia Workforce Connection, and employers advertising jobs using a shared XML-based JobPosting schema.

The ability to open up and allow users access to statewide, aggregated job postings gives Virginia new opportunities for tackling workforce challenges. Like all digitized information, the jobs data is queryable by a wide array of fields -- occupational category, job type, education required, base salary, etc. -- that it is hoped will yield new insights and lead to the development of innovative new approaches to:

  • connect job seekers to jobs
  • "strengthen the signal" from employers on their specific talent needs
  • enhance educational programs and curriculum development

Future refinements to Open Data, Open Jobs are expected to improve both the quality and the breadth of the information available. For example, Microsoft has expressed interest in becoming a partner in the project.

The Governor's annual data-thon challenge at COVITS 2016 will also showcase the innovative potential of the Open Data, Open Jobs portal.  end of story

New Economic Diversity Indicator    back to top

Virginia's economy has faced challenges in recent years due to slowdowns in federal government spending. About 20 percent of the state's economy has been reliant on federal dollars (particularly in defense-related expenditures) that in turn affect the state's overall Single pear made up of slices from many different fruits.output, employment, and income levels.

To address these changes, Virginia has embarked on strategies to better diversify its economy, including cultivating private-sector growth, developing new dynamic industries, and tapping into expanding national and international markets. 

A new Economy indicator on Virginia Performs, Economic Diversity, explores Virginia's performance in this critical area and includes specific measures on employment diversity, dynamic clusters, exports (gauged by both GDP and per capita dollars), jobs due to foreign direct investment, and regional dynamic tradable clusters.

How Is Virginia Doing?

Given that traditional reliance on federal jobs, contracts, and military spending, Virginia is less diversified than most states at this point, ranking just 38th in 2014 on the Hachman Index for employment diversity. However, the Commonwealth does have many private-sector industrial clusters that are important to its economy, including business services, education and knowledge creation, distribution and electronic commerce, and hospitality and tourism. 

Each region also boasts several dynamic industry clusters that show high levels of geographical concentration and are experiencing growth nationally. For example, Marketing / Design / Publishing are growth areas for the Northern and Central regions, while Metalworking Technology is increasingly important in the Hampton Roads and West Central regions.

As with every Virginia Performs indicator, Economic Diversity also details relevant state agencies and programs and links to specific agency measures that relate to the indicator's larger goals. Check it out!  end of story

Virginia an NGA Learning Lab Winner   back to top

NGA Data Learning Lab graphicThe National Governors Association's (NGA) Center for Best Practices has awarded Virginia (along with five other states) a grant to participate in an NGA learning lab called "Use of Data in Policymaking."

Increasingly, governors and other executive leadership are using data to drive more informed decision-making. States are using a variety of strategies to harness that data; according to NGA, these include:

  • Setting measurable goals that cut across agency and programmatic silos;
  • Collecting and reviewing data to track progress and identify strategies for improvement; and
  • Incorporating data and evidence to assess policies and processes.

Virginia is certainly no stranger to these strategies. Virginia Performs, which formally launched in 2007, is the longest-running government performance accountability system in the nation. Virginia Performs's Priority Assessment tier includes the governor's Enterprise Strategic Priorities -- specifically designed to focus on goals and measurable strategies across organizational hierarchies -- as well as issue-specific report cards on workforce development, state government operations, and economic innovation and entrepreneurship.

This particular NGA learning lab will give Virginia's team an opportunity to visit another state that is successfully putting innovative practices in place. One part of the four-month lab includes a meeting in the state of Washington, whose Results Washington data site tracks the major performance and continuous improvement goals set by their current governor.

The other state winners of the learning lab grants are Arizona, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.  end of story

Brief Insights: Credentials to Compete    back to top

Brief Insights logoA key foundation for building Governor McAuliffe's New Virginia Economy is to ensure that employers have access to the talent they need to grow and prosper. In August 2014, McAuliffe set a goal to produce 50,000 STEM-H (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Health) workforce credentials by the end of his administration. This focus on workforce credentials reflects research which shows that jobs increasingly require some form of postsecondary education, but not necessarily a 4-year college degree.

A new Brief Insights document, "Credentials to Compete: Foundation for Tracking Progress," examines Virginia's new efforts for STEM-H and workforce credentials attainment, documents the state's methods for identifying progress, and discusses current challenges in collecting accurate, meaningful data.

Results so far show that STEM-H workforce credential production grew by nine percent from FY2014 to FY2015, with industry certifications responsible for the majority of that growth. One very real challenge to tracking and improving these numbers further is the inability to produce counts that differentiate between credentials earned and the number of persons earning them. Another is the limited and incomplete data Virginia has on industry certifications. Legislation passed during the 2016 General Assembly session (HB66 / SB576) will help to build the state's data resources on these certifications by incentivizing students to earn them.

Credentials to Compete: Foundation for Tracking Progress (pdf, 1.4 mb) is available for download here and from the Council's website.  end of story