Mapping Stereotypes: Immigrant Jobs in the US

Immigrants in the US are widely held to be employed in low-wage jobs such as gardening or housekeeping. A map created by Business Insider, showing the most common jobs held by immigrants across the United States, reinforces many stereotypes. However, a closer look reveals some surprising results.

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The map largely offers an image of immigrants’ jobs corresponding to people’s prejudices, with immigrants holding down low-paying jobs in sectors such as agriculture on the West Coast and housekeeping and construction across much of the South. Yet, there are also four states in the East in which immigrants most commonly work as college professors, and in Delaware the predominant occupation among people born outside the US is software developer.
More importantly however, the map reveals that a significant number of immigrants work as health aides, nurses or personal care aides. Jobs in healthcare will be increasingly in demand with the aging of the population and the supply of workers will depend in part on the availability of immigrant workers.

Indeed, the distribution of immigrant jobs shown on map may lead to false conclusions regarding immigrant employment. The map suggests that most immigrants are employed in low-wage jobs, such as agricultural work or housekeeping. However, the Economic Policy Institute found in an extensive survey that, in the United States as a whole, there are almost as many immigrants in white-collar jobs (46%) as in all other occupations combined. Thus, the perception that all immigrants work in low-wage jobs is clearly inaccurate. While immigrants might be overrepresented in some occupations and underrepresented in others, the discrepancy between the US and foreign born population is not as dramatic as is often assumed. While immigrants are overrepresented in low-wage occupations, as the map shows, they also play a significant role in some high-wage and middle-wage jobs. An analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data for example reveals that high-skilled immigrant workers are overrepresented in industries such as information technology, life sciences and high-tech manufacturing.

However, the fact many immigrants work in high-skilled and high-wage jobs offers little consolation for those at the bottom. Low-wage immigrant workers do not enjoy the benefits of employer-provided training programs as these are usually geared to managers or highly skilled employees. They are also outside the reach of government-sponsored job training programs that aim to inject more equality in the labor market. The data from the census that is represented on the map includes both documented and non-documented immigrants. While documented immigrants tend to hold higher skilled jobs, undocumented immigrants are relegated to menial work. The social gap is wide apart between immigrants at the top and at the bottom and it is not due to get any narrower soon.

In any case, foreign workers make up a large portion of the US work force and are vital to the US economy. An infographic that sums up data from the Immigration and Integration Initiative, as well as original AS/COA research shows just how big an impact immigrants both documented and undocumented have on prosperity in the United States. For example, immigrants started 28% of all new businesses in 2011, employing 1 in 10 US workers, while they only make up 13% of society as a whole.  On average, immigrants pay $1,800 more in taxes than they receive in benefits. They also produce significantly more consumer spending, thereby creating new jobs.

Both the insights from the map and from the infographic remain rather superficial because the statistical analyses do not go beyond job titles. For instance, it might be interesting to see, what skills or talents immgrants in the US bring with them exactly and how they could be put to use most efficiently. Also, an international comparison with other countries would offer valuable insights. An indepth investigation of immigrants’ occupations and skills would mean processing a wealth of data. More importantly however, it would require adequate tools that allow drawing significant conclusions. JANZZ.technology offers exactly that. Its semantic matching technology and its expertise in occupation and skills data provide an effective means to analyse the potential and shortages of immigrants’ skills. Furthermore, JANZZ.technology would allow to compare the immigrants within the US workforce to immigrants in other countries, as the ontology JANZZon! connects job titles, skills and qualifications across multiple languages and cultures. The ontology would also allow to assess the skills of immigrants better, showing them what skills exactly they lack in order to climb up the social and economic ladder. The tools by JANZZ.technology therefore offer a starting point in order to allocate immigrants to the best possible occupations and to learn from an international economic comparison.

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The Rise of the Machines: The Disruptive Potential of Cognitive Computing

As cinematic representations of intelligent machines over the past decades have shown, the fascination with and the fear of artificial intelligence always inevitably mix. People enjoy the thrill of watching humans knocked off-balance by AI in Ex Machina, robots trying to take over the world in I Robot, or seeing an entire team of Marvel superheroes fighting Ultron in the latest Avengers movie. But also in real life, intelligent machines are rivalling with humans and many are afraid of automation and digitalization stealing away people’s jobs. Still, the quest for intelligent machines is relentless.

Thinking Robot --- Image by © Blutgruppe/Corbis

Thinking Robot — Image by © Blutgruppe/Corbis

Back in 1997 the Deep Blue computer picked grandmaster Garry Kasparov apart in a chess match. Three years ago, supercomputer Watson competed on Jeopardy! against two champions and defeated them by far. Now, Watson helps doctors make more accurate diagnoses using raw data from medical research and patient histories. In Japan, cuddly robot bears are hailed to be the future of elderly care. The ability to talk to one’s phone or tablet is not relegated to the imaginary space of films such as the science-fiction drama Her but is a reality. These and many more innovations in the field of artificial intelligence have profound implications for the relationship between man and machine.

Indeed, in our increasingly digitalized world with exponentially growing data volumes, complex issues are handled much more effectively by computers than by humans. Computers can process large volumes of data in a speed unattainable for humans. Not only is data increasing in volume but also in speed, variety and uncertainty. Most data is now supplied in unstructured forms such as images, videos, symbols and natural language – hence, computer systems needed to step up to the challenge in order to process this new kind of data. Cognitive computing aims to simulate human thought processes in a computerized model. Self-learning systems that use data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing are trained to mimic the way the human brain works. Ultimately, cognitive computing strives to solve complex problems independently, without human assistance. According to Gartner, the era of cognitive computing, also called the smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.

While AI capabilities such as natural language processing, speech recognition and machine learning algorithms were invented 30 years ago, it is only now that these technologies find significant application in business systems. More than 2’300 startups have been founded and venture capitalists have invested billions of dollars in the field of AI lately (a representation of the AI business landscape can be found here). Furthermore, major players like Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, SAS and Yahoo are investing in the development of smarter applications.

Why now? The exponential growth of unstructured data not only offered a challenge to computer systems but also an effective means to train machines. Big data, along with improvements in the above mentioned disciplines, is what’s making the difference in machine learning. Sophisticated algorithms can only learn to solve problems independently by repeated training using big data. The success of smart applications thus depends largely on the quality of data that they are fed.

In healthcare, the finance industry, e-commerce, customer relationship management and search engines, cognitive computing is employed in order to support human experts in making faster and more accurate decisions. While machines have thus replaced human work in many fields, especially where manual work is concerned, artificial intelligence does not supersede human experts but rather acts as a catalyst. Cognitive computing systems can amplify the possibilities of what either machines or humans could do on their own.

JANZZ.technology also supplies such a system in the field of employment, skills and talent. The ontology JANZZon! and the smart matching engine JANZZsme! make complex problems such as job and skills matching computable and completely change the way we think and go about job searching. As the applications of JANZZ.technology are structured semantically, that is, occupations, skills and qualifications etc. are interlinked logically; they can deliver meaningful results for complex searches for job vacancies, employees, freelancers etc. in real time, across multiple languages. Importantly, the applications are constantly fed with new data and therefore become more accurate over time. With the tools by JANZZ.technology, you don’t search for a job – you are found.

The high quality of JANZZ.technology’s tools stems from its specialization and expertise in occupation data. The ontology JANZZon! has been built with solid industry-specific expertise and years of experience in HR. Every day, a dedicated team of IT-supporters and engineers work on improving the quality and extent of the ontology JANZZon!. A myriad of connections between occupations, skills and other data stored in the knowledge base is established continuously – like synapses in a human brain – turning the unstructured occupation data into structured data. Big data is turned into smart data. The gist: Cognitive computing tools are only ever as good as the expertise of their human creators. Also the success of the supercomputers Deep Blue and Watson may be explained by looking at the specificity and quality of their training. Both were built for one particular purpose, to play chess and to compete in Jeopardy!. Also in a later stage, Watson needed to be fed with a wealth of medical research and patient histories in order to be able to supply doctors with accurate treatments. The assumption that smart applications are superhuman all-rounders is thus vehemently inaccurate.

The only ones to fear the rise of cognitive systems are those who perform menial tasks. Sure, cognitive systems can process volumes of information in real time that we couldn’t even dream of but they need to be nurtured by human experts in order to perform accurately. Hence, HR cracks and doctors need not fear their digital supporters but rather welcome their disruptive and amplifying potential.

JANZZ.technology Releases a New and Improved Version of its Ontology

Every day, JANZZ.technology’s dedicated team of IT supporters and engineers work on improving the quality and extent of the ontology JANZZon!. Over the past couple of weeks, the focus was on growing the ontology’s reach by implementing even more languages and national occupation classifications.

Improvements on the ontology:

  • Implementation of O*Net completed
  • The Singaporean classifications SSEC 2015 and SSOC 2015 90% completed
  • Several thousands of skills added to the ontology in Arabic
  • Many occupations added to the Dutch classifications BO&C and SBC.

New additions to the ontology:

  • Chinese trad, and Chinese simplified, Swedish, Finnish and Japanese now available for ISCO-08 and selected national classifications such as the Finnish Ammattiluokitus 2010
  • Integration of the European classification for skills, competences, qualifications and occupations, ESCO

For more information on these developments, please contact us directly via email or via our contact form.

Old News, Current Problem: Over-Qualified Graduates in the UK

The lack of graduate jobs in the UK and the subsequent un- and underemployment of university leavers have been decried for years. New research now reports that over-qualification has reached saturation point, with woeful impacts on the UK economy.

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According to a report commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), more than half the UK’s graduates are wasting their degrees in jobs that do not require a university qualification and are thereby driving lower skilled workers out of their jobs. Furthermore, the authors warn that the money invested in education is wasted, leaving young people crippled by debt as they enter an increasingly competitive labor market. Importantly, the discrepancy between the qualifications and skills of university leavers and those needed by the labor market has severe macroeconomic impacts, as it affects economic competitiveness and growth negatively, increases unemployment, undermines social inclusion, and generates significant economic and social costs.

“The assumption that we will transition to a more productive, higher-value, higher-skilled economy just by increasing the conveyor belt of graduates is proven to be flawed,” said CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese. “Simply increasing the qualification level of individuals going into a job does not typically result in the skill required to do the job being enhanced – in many cases that skills premium, if it exists at all, is simply wasted. This situation is unsustainable given that the government estimates that 45% of university graduates will not earn enough to repay their student loans.”

Indeed, the UK is trailing behind other European countries, leaving only Greece and Estonia with a higher underemployment rate. While countries such as Germany, Switzerland or Slovenia have underemployment rates of around 10%, a staggering 58.8% of students in the UK are not using the qualifications from their degree. The findings of the CIPD are supported by a claim from the Office for National Statistics in 2013 that half of recent graduates in the UK were in non-graduate jobs.
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Graduates in non-graduate jobs, 2004 and 2010. The CIPD report noted a rise of underemployment in most European countries. Illustration: European Social Survey

In order to improve the bleak outlooks of graduates, the CIPD suggests raising the profile of alternatives to a degree such as apprenticeships and re-evaluating how employers invest in further training. The report thus applies a Malthusian logic to the issue of over-qualification, arguing that young people should rather pursue alternatives to a university education as the demand for skilled work on the UK labor market is saturated. Indeed countries, such as Switzerland, with a dual education system that fosters apprenticeships and other alternative educations perform significantly better in terms of matching qualifications with labor market demands.

The UK’s poor record is thus only the latest evidence of the skills mismatch and labor market frictions across Europe – a phenomenon investigated in the Nobel Prize winning research of Diamond, Mortensen and Pissarides. On the basis of this research, JANZZ.technology has developed a practical tool to recognize discrepancies between labor market demands and skills supplied by workers. Its solutions thus offer an effective way of gaining the necessary information in order to get better value out of an education system and to increase an economy’s productivity. As the CIPD has recognized, better information about degrees and their prospects might just be the first step to recovery.

 

Survival of the Fittest: Badly Educated Men Struggling to Keep Up

Badly educated men in rich countries are a species hit hard by the changing demands of the labor market. They have enjoyed unwarranted advantages in the labor market simply because of their sex for decades and centuries but now their fortune is changing.

The Economist emphasized in an article how men cluster both at the top and the bottom of US society. While 95% of Fortune 500 CEOs, 98% of Forbes’ self-made billionaires are male and 93% of world’s government heads are male, men are also far more likely than women to be imprisoned, killed in a homicide or commit suicide. Indeed, men finding themselves increasingly divided between the highest and lowest rungs of society are an issue that is played out not only in the US but also in much of the rest of the industrialized world.

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Over the past decades, women have caught up intensively on education and are now earning 57% of degrees in OECD countries. Boys are 50% more likely to fail all three basic subjects in school: mathematics, reading and science. Book-smartness was not an essential qualification in the past but now it is hard to find even low skilled work without a basic school degree. While it is still hard for women to break the glass ceiling, they dominate 20 of the 30 occupations that are expected to grow fastest in the coming years (e.g. nursing, accounting, child care). Hence, the gap between the sexes can be expected to grow even more.

The issue is not only the lack of education or qualifications that causes many men to do poorly in the present world of digitalized, automatized and outsourced workflows but a refusal to think outside of traditional gender roles. There is no more real money in muscle work, work that badly educated men have traditionally exercised, as machines replace a great number of manual workers and foreign workers do the same job for a fraction of the money. Hence, it is literally not the strongest species that survives, as Darwin said, but the one that is most adaptable.

It is clear that the men at the bottom would need to reinvent themselves in order to catch up with the fast paced labor market. But where to start? JANZZ.technology offers with its cutting-edge semantic knowledge base of occupation and skills data a means to analyze skills gaps and to manage talent effectively. It can easily find what skills a person is lacking in order to exercise a certain occupation. Also statistical analyses of a whole community or society can be conducted by means of JANZZ.technology’s ontology in order to get to the bottom of issues in the labor market.

A Look into the Crystal Ball: Future Work Skills

The Institute for the Future (IFTF) has recently published a study about the most important work skills for the future. Yet, those who expect to find a guideline will be disappointed.

Due to the rapidly changing demands of the labor market, the study has found that foresight and adaptability will be the key to success. The top ten skills for 2020 listed by the IFTF therefore contain abilities like “sense-making”, “transdisciplinarity” or “novel and adaptive thinking” (see graphic below). What sound like the predictions of a horoscope, which will prove true no matter what, is actually symptomatic of the driving forces behind the increasingly automatized and interconnected work force.

Indeed the changing demographic, the rise of smart machines and new media, the progressive globalization and the changing structures of organizations are causing disruptions in the labor market that oblige individuals and organizations to rethink the way they approach career paths. As machines replace humans in an increasing number of tasks, and augment them in others, humans need to find what they are uniquely good at and what makes them indispensable.

While the study might for many parts be preaching to the converted, it is nevertheless interesting to read it as a symptom of the changing attitude towards work. The study reflects the decline of a rigid occupation image that is increasingly substituted by freelancing, working in projects, job sharing and of course a great variety of career opportunities. The key statements of the IFTF anticipating an even more flexible and fluid job market for the future reverberate with the reality as we already know it.

We find ourselves in world of skills rather than jobs. Therefore, finding the right job opportunities for one’s skill set becomes more and more important. As the job platform JANZZ.jobs matches skills with occupations and projects, it is the ideal means to connect individuals with the right work opportunities and to help them reassess the skills they need or discover possible career paths. JANZZ.jobs contains all the skills of the world.

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McKinsey Estimates the Potential of Online Job Platforms at $2.7 Trillion

With global unemployment on the rise, finding an effective solution to connect workers with the right jobs and projects has become a pressing issue. The new McKinsey Global Institute report finds that online job or talent platforms offer an immense potential to fight unemployment and increase the productivity of the labor market, as they are set to meet the demands of the ever more complex and international job market today.

Presently, 30 to 50 percent of the working-age population is unemployed or only occupied in part-time positions. This amounts to as many as 850 million of people in seven of the world’s major economies who cannot find work, even though the technology and healthcare industries struggle to fill open positions. Furthermore, a study by LinkedIn found that 37 percent of people feel they are overqualified for their jobs. These mismatches between workers, their skills and occupations aggregate to an immense and costly waste of potential for the global economy.

These mismatches and the increasing inability of employment professionals and public employment services to cope with the complexities of the current labor market begs the need for a smarter and faster way to connect workers with job opportunities. Online talent platforms, like Monster.com or LinkedIn, provide marketplaces and tools that try to find the right work opportunities for job seekers. Over the past years they have accumulated hundreds of millions of users worldwide. While these platforms increase transparency in job markets and draw in new participants, the potential of online talent platforms is far from exhausted. Conventional platforms like Monster.com or LinkedIn, which are based on key-word search, still lack the sophistication to deal with imprecise job titles such as “consultant” and evolving work practices such as short term projects, freelancing and job sharing etc., resulting in many doubtful matches for people and jobs – as most of us can probably attest from personal experience.

McKinsey estimates that online talent platforms could add $2.7 trillion to the global GDP by 2025 and increase employment by 72 million full-time-equivalent positions. McKinsey forecasts that up to 540 million people worldwide could profit from talent platforms in various ways, from finding a new job faster to finding a job better suited to their skills. The potential of online job platforms is immense, even if they reach merely a fraction of the global workforce. However, if job platforms are set to solve the global mismatch in the labor market, thereby creating a significant macroeconomic impact, they require technical innovation that allows them to connect talent and opportunities accurately.

JANZZ.jobs takes up the issue of matching people and jobs where conventional job platforms left off. It offers state-of-the art matching tools that bring together all of the world’s knowledge and skills quickly and accurately, irrespective of the language used. It is for job seekers, employers, freelancers and public employment services. It can precisely match qualifications and hard and soft skills in order to find the perfect job opportunities for people or vice versa. Hence, it goes beyond the conventional key-word search that most platforms offer. It takes connecting skills and opportunities to yet another level.

Software Set to Break with Bias in Job Applications

With gender diversity becoming an ever more important feature of tech companies, some employers are at a loss how to attract more women. As the graphic from Gigaom shows, tech companies struggle to attain an equal number of male and female employees, especially in leadership or technical roles. While the Mad Men days of overt discrimination against women might be over, unconscious bias is still affecting employers and job seekers, resulting in dismal diversity numbers. Cutting-edge software has the open mind that employers lack.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, job listings may contain a subtle, unconscious gender bias in the way they are phrased. Even though, these listings do not explicitly exclude women or people of colour, the language in these ads may keep them from even applying. The paper found that this issue was especially prevalent in the engineering and programming industry, as such companies included significantly more “masculine words”. Job listings containing words like “competitive”, “dominant” or “strong” made women less interested in applying – even when they possessed the necessary qualifications. Also phrases like “a proven track record” resulted in more male applicants, whereas “a passion for learning” attracted female job seekers. Unconsciously then, tech companies are upholding the status quo.

As employers find they can’t trust their own objectivity anymore, detecting and preventing unconscious bias has become a growing business. Computer scientist Laura Mather has recently created a computer programme to fight biased hiring decisions. Her start-up Unitive develops software that helps companies detect gender biased formulations and rephrase their job listings in a more gender-neutral way in order to attract more women. Furthermore, the programme has a resume review portion that separates the candidate’s education from their experience in order to circumvent for example a systematic preference for Ivy League schools. Also the job platform JANZZ.jobs offers its users the benefit of gradual anonymity as it does away with the rhetoric customarily found in job descriptions. The platform helps with the formulation of objective requirements and facilitates a largely discrimination-free and transparent application process.

Technologies such as those developed by Unitive and JANZZ.jobs are investments into the future. Mather says “the companies that invest in this now are going to be ahead profit-wise, innovation-wise and they probably aren’t going to have as many lawsuits”.

Recruiter: Dutch firm WCC Smart Search & Match partners with JANZZ

Dutch software company WCC Smart Search & Match and Swiss skills and job matching technology and consulting company JANZZ.technology have entered into a strategic partnership.

A statement from the companies said the partnership would see an increase in collaboration on future large-scale and complex projects, as well as combining knowledge and experience.

Read the article on the website of Recruiter.

JANZZ.technology and WCC Group enter into strategic partnership.

As of April 2015, the Dutch software company WCC Smart Search & Match has entered into a comprehensive strategic partnership with JANZZ.technology, the Swiss technology and consulting company for skills and job matching. The main objectives of this partnership are to increase collaboration on future large-scale and complex projects, to combine knowledge and experience, and to incorporate both companies’ comprehensive know-how regarding challenging global, multilingual projects in the public employment services (PES), staffing, corporate HR and other relevant job matching areas. For example, the comprehensive ontology JANZZon!, which already contains around 20 million terms from the occupation data area, is set to support and augment WCC’s proven and successful ELISE software platform, allowing new multilingual functionalities with even greater accuracy in search and match.

The resulting synergies will benefit the many renowned clients and global organizations of WCC and JANZZ.technology in the future, extending their advantage still further in the areas of automatic classification, multilingual and semantic ontologies, complex and tailored matching algorithms and the processing of big occupation data.

Information about WCC Group

WCC Smart Search & Match is world’s leading supplier of search and match software solutions and services. WCC focuses on two specific solution areas: employment matching and identity matching. Its ELISE software platform excels in these areas because it uses a unique way of searching and matching data, providing more meaningful results. ELISE is designed to search through vast amounts of data from various sources and give meaningful results in a matter of seconds. It will search and match data in almost any form, be it exact or inexact, structured or unstructured, private or public, and combine multiple modalities (biographic or biometric). WCC’s primary customers are large government organizations and large companies worldwide. The company is headquartered in Utrecht, the Netherlands and has offices in the USA and the Middle East.

www.wcc-group.com

Information about JANZZ.technology

JANZZ.technology is a technology and consulting company active in the field of semantic skills and job matching, and in the use of complex occupation and skills data. It offers standard and white-label products and SaaS solutions for the modelling, analysis and use of big data on job portals, by public employment services, and on companies’ own job sites. Using the latest semantic technologies to precisely match qualifications and hard and soft skills across different languages, it considerably alleviates the matching problems associated with asymmetric search mechanisms in job markets.

www.janzz.technology

Contact:

WCC Group
Zonnebaan 19
3542 EA Utrecht
The Netherlands

Marie-Louise Scheers
Marketing Coordinator
Tel: +31 30 750 3233
mscheers@wcc-group.com

JANZZ.technology
4uGroup AG
Nidelbadstrasse 6
8038 Zurich

Stefan Winzenried
CEO
Tel: +41 43 499 71 04
info@janzz.technology