In our previous post we observed that the Revealed Comparative Advantage (RCA) technique for O*NET work styles indicates that Industrial Engineering Technologists, along with Mechanical Engineers, score relatively higher in Innovation than the other occupations we were examining.  We will explore this further in this and a following post.

First, we use the concept of complementarity to calculate the conditional probability of a pair of O*NET elements[1] being effectively used[2] by the same occupation.  This enables us to identify clusters of ONET elements that, when combined, may be used as indicators of overall competence in a specific  job function.  We believe this is also a critical indicator for occupation holders to be able to close a skill mismatch as their roles change over time due to technology, organisation and other changes.

When we look at the O*NET elements that are complementary with the O*NET work style Innovation, we see the values as shown in the figure.

Of particular interest to us are the following elements:

  • Originality – the ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem;
  • Visualization – the ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged;
  • Design – knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models;
  • Technology Design – generating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs;
  • Thinking Creatively – developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions;
  • Analytical Thinking – job requires analysing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

This combination of abilities, knowledge elements, skills, work activities and work styles are, arguably, the ‘competence cluster’ required for a job incumbent to be effective in a work environment where either direct innovation or innovation absorption[3] is a job requirement.

Interestingly, as the second figure shows, Industrial Engineering Technologists and Mechanical Engineers show effective RCA scores for a significant majority of the elements in our innovation ‘competence cluster’.  Also, interestingly – and slightly surprisingly – Industrial Engineering Technicians also score well, especially in design elements, while Industrial Engineers do not.  We will come back to this finding in a later blog.


The figures tend to support our original observations that the occupational requirements and job content profiles for Industrial Engineering Technologists indicate higher entry qualification levels may be required than for Mechanical Engineering Technologists.  To examine this further, though, we need to drill right down to the task level for these occupations, which we will do in a following post.


[1] An O*NET element is be a skill such as Critical Thinking, a knowledge subject such as Mathematics, an ability such as Oral Comprehension, or any other item from the O*NET data domains of Abilities, Interests, Work Styles, Basic Skills, Cross-Functional Skills, Knowledge, Education Experience and Training etc.

[2] We define an element as being effectively used in an occupation when RCA > 1 for that occupation.

[3] For further discussion of these terms, see