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7/8/2008
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Data Reveals Top Skills Employers Seek On Job Posts

Along with IBM and SkillProof, the State of Connecticut's data analysis technology is helping state colleges and universities refine and develop curriculum.

The State of Connecticut is piloting new technology co-developed by IBM, startup firm SkillProof, and Pace University to analyze thousands of job postings on corporate Web sites.

The insight is helping state colleges and universities develop curriculum that better meets the skill needs of employers.

Connecticut has been piloting the technology for about a year to analyze the skill needs of financial services, banks and insurance companies, which represent a large sector of employers in the state.

Based on the analysis so far, Connecticut has identified four "high-paying, high growth" job sets that employers in Connecticut are seeking to fill that are also likely "to survive long-term despite the ups and downs of the industry," said Barbara Fernandez, director of Connecticut's department of economic and community development office of insurance and financial services.

The four job sets indentified so far include actuaries, accountants and auditors, financial analysts, and financial brokers, said Fernandez.

However, the analysis also found "an emerging high demand" by employers for IT professionals with business analysis skills, said Fernandez. That insight has already prompted some of the state's community colleges to offer new two-week business analysis programs for IT professionals and others to earn certification for those skills, she said.

"The whole idea is to identify skill needs in the industry and work with academic institutions to fill that gap," she said.

The Connecticut project, launched in July 2007 and dubbed the Insurance and Financial Services Center for Education Excellence, was funded by $2.9 million federal grant awarded by the U.S. Dept. of Labor in 2006. The aim of the Connecticut pilot is to provide skills training for the banking, insurance and financial services sectors while serving as a national model for workforce development training, Fernandez said.

The technology used for the job posting analysis in Connecticut can also be applied to other industries in other states, said Henning Seip, president of SkillProof, which provided web crawling and natural text analysis tools to create monthly skills trend reports for Connecticut. The technology also includes IBM's Unstructured Information Management Architecture, or UIMA, he said. IBM said UIMA is "an open standards-based technology that combines intelligent search, taxonomy generation and classification for more accurate text search based on natural language."

Pace University's Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems in New York also helped develop the application used by Connecticut for analyzing the job posting data.

Each month, the technology is used to create reports and charts analyzing skill requirements of thousands of jobs posted on corporate Web sites of the 30 largest financial services, banks and insurance companies in Connecticut, said Seip.

"The educators are trying to figure out and understand the skills employers are truly looking for and then develop curriculum that fills the need," said Seip. "The technology was built to help them do that," he said.

The vendors are "in the process to offer this to universities and other states," he said.

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