June 07, 2019


Employers are in a fight for qualified talent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job openings rose to 7.5 million in March. The number of hires was 5.7 million.

That leaves 1.8 million unfilled positions every month in the United States. Why?

“Across America, employers are struggling to find skilled talent to fill critical jobs,” said Cheryl Oldham, Senior Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce.

For the last 10 years, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has been on the front lines, supporting the business community with demand-driven solutions to the nation’s skills gap, all the while studying the gap that persists to better understand it. What they have learned is that the concept of the skills gap has evolved.

In step with that evolution, the Chamber Foundation is developing a solution that helps employers better communicate the competencies and skills needed for in-demand jobs to job seekers and talent sourcing partners in the education community. Veterans, service members, and military spouses will be able to benefit from this innovative solution, too.

Hire Based on Skills, Not Only Credentials

The majority of job descriptions haven’t been updated in years. Most are stored in PDF documents intended to outline the ideal candidate qualifications and job requirements, but the information captured in them is static.

Jason Tyszko, Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce, argues that vehicle for communicating in-demand hiring requirements is outdated.

“The skills gap will continue to grow unless employers have the right set of tools to communicate their hiring needs dynamically. We need a technological leap forward when it comes to how we communicate what’s inside a job,” Tyszko said.

Last year, the Chamber Foundation launched the Job Data Exchange (JDX) initiative with a mission to develop a set of open-data tools and resources that break down a job description into structured competency requirements instead of complicated sentences written in static paragraphs.

With employer participation, the JDX would produce better, more accurate data about the actual skills employers are looking for in real time. This organic labor market information would allow job seekers to connect their skills and qualifications to jobs that are available more quickly and accurately.

“We want employers to abandon the paragraphs that are not searchable and break down the job descriptions into specific skills,” Tyszko said. “Open data about jobs means equal access to information – it levels the playing field and makes labor markets more equitable.”

This can be incredibly important for the military talent pool. For military spouses, it may be a way to connect the skill sets that they gained from seven different jobs over the course of 20 years.

The JDX tools are providing structured data about required skills, credentials, and competencies. Down the line, if a service member or military spouse is interested in a particular job, the developer community can tap into JDX data to develop innovative applications that can help individuals prepare and plan for the career they desire.

“I can use technology today, to find out which restaurants are nearby, whether they're open, or closed and what's on the menu, down to the ingredients, but I can't do that for jobs. Now, imagine if we could use technology, so I can pull up all the jobs in my community and to find out what's actually inside them, in terms of the skills, the competencies, and credentialing requirements,” Tyszko explained.

Eight pilot partner teams across seven states and the District of Columbia are participating in co-designing and pilot-testing the JDX tools and resources. These pilot partner teams are comprised of education and training providers, employers, HR professionals, and HR technology vendors representing the industries of healthcare, defense, utilities, energy, and manufacturing. For more information about the Job Data Exchange, visit