AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Development Foundation on Wednesday morning issued the first of what it expects to be quarterly reports that track online job postings in Maine.
The report — “Jobs in Maine: Online Job Postings by Industry, Occupation, Skills, and Education” — analyzes information scraped from online job boards to determine what industries and occupations have the most demand for employees, and what type of skills and educational attainment the open positions require, according to Ed Cervone, the foundation’s CEO.
There are limitations to what can be inferred from online job posting data — they are not necessarily synonymous with job vacancies, for example — but taken together with other economic indicators, the report adds valuable information to the larger job-creation puzzle everyone in Maine is trying to put together, Cervone said.
“Job postings add another part to the big jobs story, it’s another layer of information that’s helpful as we think about this strategically,” he said. “When used with other economic data, it helps us understand the story better.”
Since this is the first report, it only offers “a snapshot” of job openings advertised online during the first two quarters of 2013, Cervone said. But he said as MDF publishes more reports, the data over time will become more valuable as a way to reveal trends.
“Our plan is to do this quarterly and as we get more out, maybe can get more conclusions,” he said. “This is first stake in ground for us, so we’re limited in what we can say, but it tells us something about what Maine employers are asking for.”
There are no surprises in the inaugural report, Cervone said.
The occupations with the most job postings include registered nurses, which topped the list with 1,331 job postings, followed by several categories related to retail sales and customer service. There were 411 job postings for software and application developers.
By filtering the online job postings through an application from Burning Glass Technologies that extracts and analyzes key words, the report is able to list the most in-demand skills listed in the postings.
The so-called “soft skills” are prominent in the job postings. There were more than 10,000 job postings that required the ability to communicate and coordinate, followed by the ability to function in a business environment, solve problems and provide good customer service. Noteworthy is the fact that more than 5,000 job postings required software and programming skills.
When it comes to the education level employers are looking for in employees, there were 561 postings for jobs requiring general business administration degrees. The other degrees in the top five are more specialized: nursing science, computer science, engineering and social work.
“I think [the report] reaffirms what we and everyone else have been talking about,” Cervone said. “What’s the job makeup of the state? What are the skills in demand? Does education matter? I think the answer is yes.”
The report was completed in cooperation with John Dorrer, former director of the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information and currently senior adviser to Jobs for the Future. MDF received financial support from the John T. Gorman Foundation.
While the report adds to the larger strategic picture, Cervone said it isn’t just for policymakers. He hopes business owners and educators can also glean valuable insight from the reports.
“Here’s what being advertised right now in the economy, here are the skills listed and the educational requirements being listed,” he said. “There’s not a definite thing we want to get from any of this other than to share information with people making policy, people making investments in their businesses and, most importantly, the workforce who are making investments in themselves to improve their career potential and their outcomes.”