Senior Research Associate, Economic, Labor Market, and Educational Data

Alameda, CA
Date Posted:  May 12, 2021

WestEd is a nonpartisan, nonprofit agency that conducts and applies research, develops evidence-based solutions, and provides services and resources in the realms of education, human development, and related fields, with the end goal of improving outcomes and ensuring equity for individuals from infancy through adulthood. WestEd has more than a dozen offices nationwide, from Massachusetts, Georgia, and Washington, DC, to Arizona and California, with headquarters in San Francisco.

Throughout WestEd’s over 50-year history we have maintained a strong commitment to staff diversity. Individuals of different ethnicities, races, abilities, gender identities, and sexual orientations, as well as from different cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, work at all levels of the organization. We value the range of perspectives provided by this diverse workforce and the ways in which those perspectives enrich and inform our agency and the work we do. Read more about WestEd’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Position Overview:

The Senior Research Associate for Economic, Labor Market, and Educational Data will work as a part of the Postsecondary Education and Workforce Development Group at WestEd. The Postsecondary Education and Workforce Development Group focuses on strengthening higher education, workforce, and economic development systems to improve student access and outcomes in higher education and increase economic mobility for low-income families and communities. A central pillar of the group is changing the conversation about the relationship between education and access to living wage employment and careers through exceptionally innovative use of data, student and practitioner experience, and a strong understanding of secondary, postsecondary, and workforce education systems and structures.

The Senior Research Associate will oversee economic, labor market, and educational data analysis that supports the focus of the group. This includes aggregation, data analysis, and comparison of anomalous data sets focused on the intersection of economic, labor market, and educational supply systems to support regional and statewide strategies that increase outcomes for low-income individuals, families, and communities. The Senior Research Associate will be part of the Division 3 Postsecondary and Workforce Development content area, supporting that group’s expanding portfolio of work related to increasing economic mobility for communities of need, intersegmental systems development, and use of data to inform equity and student outcomes. In recent years, the group has led numerous projects using Labor Market, economic, and education data in innovative ways including:

  • Systems mapping of intersegmental K14 educational and career pathways
  • Interactive tools that compare CTE offerings in adult ed, community colleges, and regional labor markets
  • Regional sector strategies to support integrated systems serving adult learners
  • Skills mapping of college and career metamajors and their relevance to living wage employment
  • The California Chancellor’s Office LaunchBoard – a suite of complex data tools that integrate college, K12, adult education, National Student Clearinghouse, labor market, and employment administrative data sets to better understand student outcomes and journeys.


Data Aggregation and Analysis

  • Lead and support projects requiring complex use of labor market, economic, occupational skills and educational data
  • Strengthen WestEd’s and the group’s approach to using economic and labor market information in new and innovative ways to illuminate and inform solutions to improving economic mobility and equitable access to living wage employment
  • Identification and cultivation of innovative new lines of work to support the forward-thinking emphasis of the group and support our focus on leading rather than following the field

Provide project management

  • Supervise and lead projects that include internal WestEd project staff and key external development and policy partners
  • Manage complex projects with multiple partners, in a context of rapidly evolving priorities, and ensuring deliverables are on time and on budget
  • Lead and participate in planning for development or revision of projects and support the expanding portfolio of work with the postsecondary and workforce team
  • Demonstrated ability to supervise others, including partners, in the development and implementation of large scale multi-system and multi-partner initiatives
  • Demonstrated ability to identify and think through all necessary steps of a project and set appropriate deadlines
  • Capacity to move seamlessly between prioritized tasks
  • Ability to meet tight timelines

Practitioner Engagement, Professional Development, and Technical Assistance

  • Support implementation of regional and statewide practitioner engagement strategies that involve stakeholders from different educational segments and public systems
  • Support the use of LMI, economic, and other data sets in the field to support change conversations with educational and workforce practitioners
  • Develop training and technical assistance models that are responsive to practitioner needs to use data for program improvement, improving equity, and systems change, in particular that can bring economic and labor market data alive for educational practitioners who are often resistant to using these types of data assets.


The ideal candidate has a strong theoretical and practical understanding of economic, labor market, and educational data systems. They should be familiar with a breadth of economic and labor market data tools such as O*Net, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, EMSI, Burning Glass, Implan, Dunn and Bradstreet, and other resources. It is desirable that they are also conversant in educational data resources such as the National Student Clearinghouse, state-level administrative data systems and similar systems. This should be matched by strong communication skills, the ability to lead diverse teams, and work in a high demand and fluid work environment. The postsecondary and workforce group in is a high performance and fast-moving team working continuously across public systems and in the field. Applicants should enjoy working in a rapid paced, challenging environment that pushes the boundaries of policy and practice. Curiosity, an open mind, strong problem solving skills, and a passion for student equity are strong requirements for this position.


  • 3-5 years: Experience using data for professional development and technical assistance for local institutions, regional consortia, or state systems, in particular to inform changes in policy and practice that increase low wage communities’ access to living wage jobs
  • 5 years: Familiarity and direct experience with a wide range of data and analytic tools related to labor market, economic, educational, and demographic data aggregation and analysis, in particular how such tools have been used by the applicant to inform policy and practice in workforce, economic development, education, or community change
  • 5-10 years related experience in the use of labor market, economic, educational, and demographic data to inform educational, workforce, or economic development policy and practice
  • A minimum of a Masters Degree (PhD preferred) in economics, planning, public policy or related field with a strong emphasis on quantitative methods and analysis (the need for a degree specific to this field is less important should the candidate demonstrate sufficient experience and a track record of successful projects)