Ontology Based Intelligent System for Online Employer Demand Analysis

Ontology Based Intelligent System for Online Employer Demand Analysis

Chamonix Terblanche (Curtin University, Australia), Pornpit Wongthongtham (Curtin University, Australia) and Boris Marcelo Villazon-Terrazas (Expert System Iberia, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9455-2.ch009
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Identifying employer demand is crucial for a nation to ensure it develops accurate and reliable education, workforce development and immigration policies. Skills shortages globally pose a real and urgent need for proper investigation and workforce development planning into the future. Analysing workforce development and employer demand needs through online job market allows much deeper and wider research into skill shortages. Current methods do not provide the level of depth required to address such important economic implications. In this chapter, the authors present an intelligent system aiming to gather and analyse current employer demand information from online job advertisements. An Employer Demand Ontology has been developed and to further the ontology functionality, the Employer Demand Identification Tool has been developed as a semi-automated means to gather and analyse current employer demand information on a regular basis.
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Many economies such as Australia, New Zealand, Bulgaria and Canada, have suffered severe damage to its prospects of economic growth for decades. This damage has been due to frequent periods of skill shortages (Curtain, 1988) — especially post World War I and World War II. Skill shortages occur when employers struggle to fill vacancies for an occupation, or significant specialised skill needs within that occupation, at current levels of remuneration and conditions of employment, and in reasonably accessible locations (DEEWR, 2008-09). The lack of sufficiently skilled and experienced labour has been a topic of great concern in the media for the past decade (Access Economics, 2009; Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA, 2009; MacDonald & Klinger, 2009; Probyn, 2009; Storey, 2001).

The shortages have caused severe labour supply bottlenecks in industries that have been to the forefront of these countries’ developments (Turnbull, 1980). Much of the damage is due to frequent adjustments which companies have had to make when they were unable to employ individuals who possessed the skills companies required to meet their goals (Senker, 1992).

Until recently, the major trends over the past few decades in the manufacturing industries, were greater refinements of mass production techniques, greater specialisation of machinery, specialisation of workers’ skills and the segmentation of occupations (Hayton & Cheyne, 1988). The changes in the manufacturing and other industries due to these trends, as well as the major role that technology has started to play during the last thirty years, have dramatically changed the way people do their jobs. Figure 1 shows how occupations have changed structurally over the years, indicating that the trend from mass production towards flexible manufacturing has caused the need for broader multi-skilled occupations which require flexibility.

Figure 1.

Simplified representation of ‘old’ and ‘new’ occupational structures

(Hayton & Cheyne, 1988).

By directing a government’s funding to relevant, specific educational and learning needs for each occupation, educational offerings can be focused and shaped drastically to address the shortage of skills for that area. Employer demand should be identified on a region by region basis to ensure that each area has relevant employer demand intelligence pertaining to their specific needs. This, in turn, will indicate which educational courses should be delivered at a higher rate for specific geographical areas.

Businesses will be seriously impacted if they cannot adapt to the changing circumstances already evident in markets characterised by shortfalls. These businesses will struggle to obtain and recruit staff and it will become more imperative to retain current staff. To meet this challenge, innovative recruitment and retention strategies are required (Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, 2007), especially to address the broader recruitment problems that exist in regional areas (Australian Government, 2005).

The delivery of detailed employer demand intelligence will assist government to direct their funding to appropriate and specific areas (Department of Employment Education Training and Youth Affairs, 1998). The funding should be delivered to educational courses that will address the problem of occupations that are in demand but not being able to be filled due to a lack of appropriately skilled employee base in the specific areas. Educational institutions will be able to ensure their courses train students with the appropriate skill sets that employers need at that point in time. Industry will be able to plan better by up skilling their current employee base with appropriate educational material that will provide employees with the needed skills. Employees and future students will be better informed when choosing a course to study to ensure they are employable post their studies.

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