We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short term and underestimate the effect in the long run.
Amara’s Law1

Building on our two recent blogs on using O*NET to explore what changes are happening across and within occupations, we can apply our simple implications matrix to the findings we have made.

With every piece of work we do using occupational content information to identify and track changes, we apply a simple set of tests questions captured in the matrix below.

O*NET Findings Implication Areas Practical implications and possible actions
From the O*NET data over the 2011-2019 period, several findings have emerged:

  • New tasks have been added and some dropped
  • New skills have been added and some dropped
  • The frequency and duration of tasks/work activities have changed
  • The relative importance and significance of tasks/work activities and skills have changed
  • Changes in both tasks and skills have led to overlaps between occupations (both vertically and horizontally)

  • Areas of performance
  • Levels of performance
  • Review and refresh periods
  • Does the occupational standard cover the new changes?
  • Have the levels of proficiency required in the standard increased?
  • Is there evidence the rate of change of the content of the occupation mean the standard requires more frequent updates?

  • Approach adopted
  • Is the current approach to assessment still current?

  • Content
  • Balance
  • Knowledge requirements
  • Skills practice levels and duration
  • Are the changes to the occupation enough to require the current curriculum to updated?
  • Are the significance and importance of work activities changes reflected in the structure of the curriculum?
  • Will the new skills and work activities require different amounts of practice in order to become competent?

  • Entry requirements
  • Are the changes to the content of the occupation enough to require higher entry requirements (education qualifications)?
Occupation clusters and pathways

  • Similarities
  • Progression paths
  • Are the changes to the content of the occupation enough to change the relationship with related ones and any established professional development path?
Career advice and guidance

  • Working time use
  • Entry requirements
  • Progression opportunities
  • Has the content of the occupation changed the usual working day?
  • Have the changes to the occupation required higher (educational) entry requirements?
  • Have the career progression steps changed and require updating?

  • Entry requirements
  • Renewal period
    • Has the content of the occupation changed the level of the entry requirements?
    • Is the rate of change of the occupation such as to require reducing the renewal period?

    Now, do the findings identified through using the O*NET dataset when tested by the questions raised in the table (above)? If any of them can be answered ‘yes’, then there is a need to make a further change under one of the seven implication areas.

    What is apparent is that there are several major sets of occupation changes:

    • Those cutting across nearly all occupations: these can be grouped under two main types, those changes which are resulting in new skills and new work activities being taken-up by multiple occupations across most major classifications e.g. digitisation of the workforce; and, those changes requiring high levels of performance in particular work activities.
    • Those impacting a relatively small number of occupations: the emergence of new activities which come to dominate an occupation e.g. the small number of wholly environmental (or green) occupations
    • Those impacting related occupations: for example, with the emergence of the role of the data scientist brings together those occupations of the statistician, the computer scientist and the data manager (especially for visualisation) in one role.

    It should therefore be possible to score a change identified in the O*NET times series data for an occupation and rate it as regards impacts across the ‘Implications Areas’. We will explore the application of this approach in future blogs.


    1. Roy Amara in The Age, October 31st, 2006