About the COE

The Centers of Excellence (COE) are the number one source of regional labor market information (LMI) for the California Community Colleges. The  primary function of the COE for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges is to produce LMI for the Regional Program Recommendation Process: When the colleges develop a new program, they start with a needs assessment, which includes a labor market demand and supply analysis from the COE. Labor market briefs produced for the Regional Program Recommendation Process can be found here.

Other functions of the San Diego-Imperial COE include:

The San Diego-Imperial COE team consists of:

  • Tina Ngo Bartel, Director (tngobartel@miracosta.edu)
  • John Edwards, Research Analyst (jedwards@miracosta.edu)
  • Eddie Matthews, Regional Research Associate (ematthews@miracosta.edu)
  • Robert Chu, Project Manager (rchu@miracosta.edu)

For more information, sign up for the San Diego-Imperial COE newsletter by emailing sandiego-imperial@coeccc.net.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This section provides an overview of frequently asked questions in data requests.

1. How do I request an LMI presentation or workshop for my stakeholders?

An LMI presentation or workshop can be requested by contacting  John Edwards (jedwards@miracosta.edu.) If possible, please provide the COE team with a minimum of four weeks advance notice.

2. How do I request labor market information (LMI)?

All requests for labor market information must be submitted using the online LMI request form. If the requester is not a Career Education Dean (e.g., faculty, admin), then the requester must, at minimum, notify the designated Career Education Dean before submitting the request.

3. What is the difference between traditional LMI and real-time LMI?

Traditional LMI is historical and projected data that is collected, analyzed, and reported by government agencies on the labor market. Although traditional LMI is comprehensive and reliable, it is limited in capturing current trends and it may not offer granular details about employer needs for specific jobs. Real-time LMI is data collected from online job postings, which could provide insight into daily changes in the labor market. Real-time LMI also offers information about employer needs related to different jobs, such as the types of skills requested, the job titles used, and companies advertising for those positions.

4. What’s the difference between an “exploratory purposes,” “regional program recommendation,” “college/district program review,” “existing low unit, local certificate(s) for state chaptering,” “noncredit vocational program development,” and “program modification” request in the LMI data request form?

In the submission process, one of the following options are selected:

  • Exploratory purposes may be selected if a college is seeking to develop a new program and interested in using LMI to guide program development. This option may also be selected for emerging occupations and traditional LMI may not be available.
  • Regional program recommendation may be selected if a college is developing a new program and a needs assessment must be conducted for the occupation(s) or skill(s) trained for by the program.
  • College/district program review may be selected if a program is being reviewed in the institution’s program review process conducted every two years.
  • Existing low unit, local certificate(s) for state chaptering may be selected if a college is seeking LMI for the development of a certificate that is six units or fewer.
  • Noncredit vocational program development may be selected if a college is developing a new noncredit vocational program, and a needs assessment must be conducted for the occupation(s) or skill(s) trained for by the proposed noncredit program.
  • Program modification may be selected if an existing program is being modified (i.e., updated curriculum) and a needs assessment must be conducted for the occupation(s) or skill(s) trained for by the program.
5. What are SOC codes, CIP codes, TOP codes, and NAICS codes?
  • Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes are used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data. The SOC system classifies all occupations in the economy and all workers are classified into one occupation. The COE uses 6-digit SOC codes, which in O*NET are codes ending in “.00.”  SOC codes can be found here.
  • Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes were developed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the purpose of tracking, assessment, and reporting of fields of study and program completions of educational institutions. The COE uses CIP codes to identify program completion activity of non-community college institutions in the region. CIP codes can be found here.
  • Taxonomy of Programs (TOP) codes were developed by the California Community Colleges as their own educational program classification system to collect and report information on programs and courses. A crosswalk is used to map TOP codes onto CIP code cited here. The COE uses TOP codes to identify program completion activity of community college institutions in the region. TOP codes can be found here.
  • North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is a standardized system used by federal statistical agencies to classify businesses for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing data related to the U.S. economy. All businesses are classified using 2-digit codes and this classification is also used for industries developed in partnership with Canada and Mexico. The COE may use NAICS codes to understand business and industry patterns in a region. NAICS codes can be found here.
6. What is the difference between a job title and an occupation title/description?

Job titles are used by employers to advertise an occupation in online job postings, for example, but often varying job titles are used to describe jobs with similar functions. For example, Interior Designers may be called Decorating Consultants, Interior Design Consultants, Designers, etc. Despite these varying titles, however, this job would be classified under the SOC code Interior Designers (27-1025). Therefore, SOC codes are used as a standardized method of collecting information about occupations, whereas job titles are used by employers and can vary across jobs.

7. What if an SOC occupational title or description does not match what employers use at their companies?

Employers can use various job titles and job descriptions when referring to an occupation with similar tasks and responsibilities. Nevertheless, jobs with similar functions are classified into an occupation using the standardized SOC classification system for the purposes of analyzing, tracking, and reporting information. More information about occupational codes and job descriptions can be found on O*NET OnLine.

8. What are entry-level wages, median wages, and experienced wages?

Entry-level wages (25th percentile) are earnings that workers might expect to earn with some training (i.e., an associate degree), and 25% of workers in that occupation make this amount or less. Median wages (50th percentile) are earnings that workers might expect to earn with some training and experience, and 50% of workers in that occupation make this amount or less. Experienced wages (75th percentile) are earnings that workers might expect to earn with advanced experience in the field, and 25% of workers earn this amount or more.

9. What if the wages in the labor market data do not match what we hear from industry?

Although the COE makes a data-informed decision when providing a regional recommendation, wages data is based on self-report and some data may be inaccurate or incomplete. In cases when feedback from industry is inconsistent with wages reported in a labor market brief, the San Diego-Imperial Regional Consortium and COE encourages the colleges to use the employer endorsement letter template, which meets the minimum PCAH requirements for LMI, to use in the Regional Program Recommendation Process. This letter acts as employer endorsement for the proposed program and to certify that the occupation(s) meet the living wage standard in the region.

10. Could you help me survey employers or create a special report?

A special report or employer survey can be requested and completed in collaboration with the COE. This process can typically take approximately twelve months from preparation to completion, but can vary depending on the scope of the project and scheduled upcoming projects. Both timing and cost considerations for a project include planning, recruitment and screening, data collection, analysis and reporting. A minimum of 120-150 surveys are recommended to meaningfully interpret the data. To discuss a specific project and obtain more accurate estimates on timing and costs, please contact Tina Ngo Bartel (tngobartel@miracosta.edu).

11. Could you create a labor market brief using only key words and online job postings data instead of SOC codes? Why or why not?

SOC codes are used instead of key words because it is a classification system that is public, reliable, and standardized. An advantage is that replication of a report is possible if a consumer wants to learn more information or do a follow-up report. Key words and online job postings are only used in special cases when LMI for an occupation is unavailable in a region, or when it is an emerging occupation. A limitation of using keywords to note, however, is that the information may not capture data specific to one occupation or industry, and a review of online job postings may be necessary to understand relevant nuances.

12. How do I select SOC codes/occupational titles that give me higher labor market demand so that there’s a supply gap in the report?

The SOC codes/occupational titles selected should not be selected based on labor market demand, but should be selected based on what occupation(s) or skill(s) are trained for by the program. As specified in the Program and Course Approval Handbook (PCAH), a program “must show that jobs are available for program completers within the local service area of the individual college and/or that job enhancement or promotion justifies the proposed curriculum” (p. 93).

13. Instead of a labor market brief or report, could you just give me the raw data?

All reports produced by the COE provide a summary of labor market metrics and follow a rubric for endorsement or non-endorsement. As part of the regional recommendation process, a labor market brief that includes an interpretation of the data must be used as part of the COE’s recommendation. The COE also uses proprietary information from vendors such as EMSI and Burning Glass, and raw data cannot be shared with consumers. The COE will summarize data in reports and additional data can be requested if necessary.

14. In terms of geographic boundaries, how granular can the report provide data for (e.g., zip codes, metropolitan statistical areas, counties)?

Data reported by geography is limited to the granularity of the data reported to federal agencies and may not be available for specific areas. Most employer and wages data are available at the state, county, and metro area levels, with ZIP code estimates available for core data (employment, earnings, and demographics) (EMSI citation). ZIP code estimates are not available for online job postings.

15. Where can I find the TOP codes for each program for each college?

To find the TOP code for a program, please go to the following site: http://datamart.cccco.edu/Courses/Course_Details.aspx. You can filter by your college, term, and TOP code.

16. What if there is no appropriate TOP code for what our college is training for? For example, there may be two TOP codes instead of one?

All programs must be assigned to one TOP code. If two TOP codes could potentially fit a program, the best suited code should be selected based on the program curriculum and TOP code description.

17. Where can I find student enrollment, retention, and completion data?

This information is available through LaunchBoard.

18. What if the labor market information isn’t favorable for the occupations I selected in the data request form?

If the LMI is not favorable for the occupations selected and the COE does not endorse the proposed program (e.g., the COE does not identify a labor market supply gap as indicated by a red dot in the report), then the college can obtain an employer endorsement. The San Diego-Imperial Regional Consortium and COE developed an employer endorsement letter template, which meets the minimum PCAH requirements for LMI, for colleges to use in the Regional Program Recommendation Process. This letter acts as an employer endorsement for the proposed program, similar to how COE reports represent the COE’s endorsements.

19. Why does labor market data from one source not match another source (e.g., EMSI vs O*NET)?

The codes used to obtain labor market data are periodically updated by governing agencies. As a result, data from different sources may not always match due to new changes in coding structures, updated codes, delays in reflecting the changes made, etc. For example, an SOC code used in a COE report may not match the SOC code used in O*NET because the site hasn’t updated to the most recent SOC coding convention; the COE, however, will use the most up to date information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics when citing SOC codes. If you have any questions about the most up to date sources, please contact John Edwards (jedwards@miracosta.edu) and Priscilla Fernandez (pfernandez@miracosta.edu).

20. How many occupations can I pick for a labor market brief (i.e., data request)?

A maximum of five occupations that a program can train for can be selected in a request, which is the state’s limit of occupations that can be selected for program alignment.