Can real-time labor analytics save U.S. standard of living?

The U.S. is going to get whacked by its aging population, lower workforce participation and declining productivity. Accenture argues that real-time labor analytics could be a fix.

The U.S. standard of living could fall 9 percent by 2030 to hit levels in 2000 unless states deploy real-time analytics and actionable insights on labor supply and demand, according to Accenture.

Accenture's report hits the raw nerve that runs through the U.S. economy---fears that the next generation may not be better off than their parents. The report, U.S. States: For Richer, For Poorer? Winning the battle for talent and securing our standard of living, has a public sector slant, but also applies to corporations.

The common reasons for a standard of living dip go like this:

accenture report living

Simply put, the U.S. is going to be whacked by an aging population, lower workforce participation and declining productivity. The working age population---defined as people ages 15 to 64---will fall to 61 percent in 2030, down from 66 percent in 2013. Given aging can't be reversed, the U.S. will have to make up the difference with workforce participation and productivity.

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And that conundrum gets interesting as states try to align in-demand skills, talent and workers. The other wrinkle is that states will have a hard time finding talent and competing against corporations.

Accenture noted:

Employers cannot find the talent they need and job seekers cannot find jobs that utilize the talents they have. This mismatch threatens the future of every family and state.

Part of the fix---at least according to Accenture---revolves around real time data and labor analytics. Real-time data will be needed because historical data doesn't predict future talent demand well.

Real-time information would yield positions currently open, industries hiring and for what positions, skills required, government roles needed, competencies in demand, training requirements and economic development impacts. Accenture continued:

To win the battle for talent, data needs to focus on today’s talent requirements—on the skills and competencies needed for success. Consider, for example, that the talent required to be a “computer programmer” is now vastly different, and far more diverse, than it was even a decade ago. Yet this is not reflected in the single standard occupational classification (SOC code) for computer programmers. Employers do not hire generic computer programmers, rather employers are looking to hire programmers with the specific skills they need today. And today a Java Developer is different from a Ruby Developer who is different from a Mobile Developer.

Accenture noted that job classifications are out of date and postings should revolve around competencies needed instead of titles and descriptions.

In a nutshell, all governments need at the state level are workforce systems that can source talent and find pools of workers.

Enter the savior IT system. I can almost smell the enterprise tech vendor pitches now revolving around analytics and big data. Technology giants will start pitching systems to find talent pools, align skills and improve productivity. And like most large monolithic implementations, there will be process, culture and technology glitches.

Accenture's take is most likely on target, but it's hard to see the government moving fast enough. Accenture found 72 percent of citizens didn't think U.S. government entities could keep up. The reality is that by the time budgets are approved and projects implemented work patterns may have already shifted a few times. Meanwhile, employers and job seekers don't see the government as a good labor broker.

However, real-time systems could change that equation. At the very least, these workforce system implementations will be interesting to watch in the years ahead.