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JOB: Product Director, Data for the American Dream

Product Director

  • Data for the American Dream
  • New Jersey, USA
Term: 18 months with possibility for renewal
Data for the American Dream Website:
New technologies are transforming every sector of the economy, making some jobs obsolete, changing others, and creating new ones. To thrive in the economy of tomorrow, jobseekers, especially the unemployed and low-income workers employed in rote, manual jobs, will need to retrain and acquire new 21st century skills. Even though information abounds about higher education, jobseekers wishing to take a training course must sift through a confusing landscape of incomplete and often unreliable information about training. She has no way to know:
  • What is the real cost of the program?
  • What are the skills she will acquire?
  • How well have program graduates fared in the labor market?
As a result, jobseekers, at best, may fail to enroll in worthwhile training opportunities and, at worst, might get scammed by unscrupulous providers. This state of affairs thus reifies and threatens to enlarge an already growing gap in opportunity between more highly educated and affluent people and people who are low-income, non-white, or have less educational attainment.
The New Jersey Office of Innovation in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development is launching the NJ Data for the American Dream Initiative to open up and publish data about training programs and use that data to create a web-based and mobile tool, initially for the state’s residents, and then to distribute nationwide to give people better information about training opportunities. In an era of machine learning, it is possible to provide helpful information about whether a training program is or is not a good fit for a specific person, including:
  • How relevant the training program is for their professional goals;
  • Whether the knowledge, skills, and abilities acquired in the program are in demand by employers; and
  • The degree to which the program meets their needs, including its cost, location, accessibility, and availability of other services, such as on-site childcare or remote learning options.
Thus, we seek a product director, passionate about doing good in the world and experienced in running complex policy and technology projects.
The Product Director will be responsible for coordinating the design and delivery of:
  1. An upload module to enable training providers to share their data in digital form;
  2. A search tool to enable those seeking training to get matched to training opportunities and learn more about them and value; and
  3. The ability for both jobseekers and employers to understand what are the skills associated with a training program and whether the program is reputable and will result in employment.
We’re looking for a skilled and experienced product director who can hire the engineering and design team to build these tools using human-centered, data-driven and agile practices. We need someone who can develop and advance work consultatively — soliciting needs, learning from users and research, communicating, writing, collaborating to find answers, negotiating and balancing requirements, and resolving issues on all sides of a problem — even before fully scaling the team.
Working with the Assistant Commissioner for Research at the Department of Labor to whom you will report, you will chart the path for how we accomplish this path-breaking project. You will collaborate with internal and external teams of project/product managers, engineers, and designers to design, develop, and implement the vision.
You’re a great fit for this role if… You’re at a point in your career where you are able to craft a technical vision and rally people around it. You can be an advocate, an expert, and a partner, and you’ve got both confidence and humility, but never hubris. You’ve got broad exposure to many different industries and technical environments, and you’ve spent enough time in specific domains or industries to know what technical expertise and judgment look like. You’ve written software that works or you’ve managed complex software projects. You can estimate costs, and plan a development schedule. You needn’t have a background in Labor or employment (although that’s a plus), but you should have an appreciation for the unique nature of the field and a passion for creating a positive impact in this sector, especially for the most vulnerable.
If the product is to succeed and sustain itself beyond the 18 months of this initiative, it’s critical that you are good at seeking advice and counsel from others, as assembling viable solutions involves the humility to be educated by and to educate those around you – and know that others here will learn from you in the same ways.
We believe in flexible work locations and working arrangements but coming to and spending adequate time in New Jersey at Labor headquarters will be vital. We’re much more focused on results and impact than locations and hours. Thus, we expect you to have strong character, internal drive, and solid communication skills.
We are an equal opportunity employer and encourage individuals of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities to apply. We are also particularly interested in individuals who have lived in or worked with underserved communities such as low-income, gender nonconforming, or indigenous peoples, or people with disabilities.
See more and apply here.