• Fraser Harper

Insights through O*NET: 3. Some practical implications

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 FindingsImplication AreasPractical implications and possible actionsFrom the O*NET data over the 2011-2019 period, several findings have emerged:

  1. New tasks have been added and some dropped

  2. New skills have been added and some dropped

  3. The frequency and duration of tasks/work activities have changed

  4. The relative importance and significance of tasks/work activities and skills have changed

  5. Changes in both tasks and skills have led to overlaps between occupations (both vertically and horizontally)Standards

  6. Areas of performance

  7. Levels of performance

  8. Review and refresh periods

  9. Does the occupational standard cover the new changes?

  10. Have the levels of proficiency required in the standard increased?

  11. Is there evidence the rate of change of the content of the occupation mean the standard requires more frequent updates?Assessment

  12. Approach adopted

  13. Is the current approach to assessment still current?Curriculum

  14. Content

  15. Balance

  16. Knowledge requirements

  17. Skills practice levels and duration

  18. Are the changes to the occupation enough to require the current curriculum to updated?

  19. Are the significance and importance of work activities changes reflected in the structure of the curriculum?

  20. Will the new skills and work activities require different amounts of practice in order to become competent?Occupation

  21. Entry requirements

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

  23. Similarities

  24. Progression paths

  25. 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

  26. Working time use

  27. Entry requirements

  28. Progression opportunities

  29. Has the content of the occupation changed the usual working day?

  30. Have the changes to the occupation required higher (educational) entry requirements?

  31. Have the career progression steps changed and require updating?Licensing

  32. Entry requirements

  33. Renewal period

  34. Has the content of the occupation changed the level of the entry requirements?

  35. 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

#Insights #MacroTrends #onet

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