!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: O*NET I: The Content Model for Occupations

Monday, March 23, 2009

O*NET I: The Content Model for Occupations

The US Department of Labor has created an online site — the Occupational Information Network, or O*NET — which enables users to explore a full range of occupations to learn about the qualifications they require, the type of settings in which they are carried out, and other features that are significant for matching people to jobs they can fill successfully and reasonably happily.

I'll talk about various elements of O*NET in a series of posts this week, beginning today with the occupational Content Model, illustrated in the graphic below. O*NET uses the Content Model to collect and organize the information that goes into their occupation database.


As you can see in the graphic, the Content Model has six major domains:
  • Worker characteristics — "Worker characteristics comprise enduring qualities of individuals that may influence how they approach tasks and how they acquire work-relevant knowledges and skills. Traditionally, analyzing abilities has been the most common technique for comparing jobs in terms of these worker characteristics. However, recent research supports the inclusion of other types of worker characteristics. In particular, interests, values, and work styles have received support in the organizational literature. Interests and values reflect preferences for work environments and outcomes. Work style variables represent typical procedural differences in the way work is performed."

  • Worker requirements — "Worker requirements represent developed or acquired attributes of an individual that may be related to work performance such as work-related knowledge and skill. Knowledge represents the acquisition of facts and principles about a domain of information. Experience lays the foundation for establishing procedures to work with given knowledge. These procedures are more commonly known as skills. Skills may be further divided into basic skills and cross-functional skills. Basic skills, such as reading, facilitate the acquisition of new knowledge. Cross-functional skills, such as problem solving, extend across several domains of activities."

  • Experience requirements — "This domain includes information about the typical experiential backgrounds of workers in an occupation or group of occupations including certification, licensure, and training data. For example, information about the professional or organizational certifications required for entry and advancement in an occupation, preferred education or training, and required apprenticeships will be documented by this part of the model."

  • Occupation-specific information — "Occupation-specific information details a comprehensive set of elements that apply to a single occupation or a narrowly defined job family. This domain parallels other Content Model domains because it includes requirements such as work-related knowledge, skills, and tasks in addition to the machines, equipment, tools, software, and information technology workers may use in their workplace. Labor market information defined by the industry or occupation is also provided here. This domain is particularly important when developing specific applications of O*NET information. For example, it is necessary to refer to occupation-specific descriptive information to specify training, develop position descriptions, or redesign jobs."

  • Workforce characteristics — "Organizations ... must operate within a broader social and economic structure ... [so] an occupational classification system must incorporate global contextual characteristics. O*NET provides this information by linking descriptive occupational information to statistical labor market information. This includes compensation and wage data, employment outlook, and industry size information."

  • Occupational characteristics — "This domain includes information about typical activities required across occupations. Task information is often too specific to describe an occupation or occupational group. The O*NET approach is to identify generalized work activities (GWAs) and detailed work activities (DWAs) to summarize the broad and more specific types of job behaviors and tasks that may be performed within multiple occupations. Using this framework makes it possible to use a single set of descriptors to describe many occupations. Contextual variables such as the physical, social, or structural context of work that may impose specific demands on the worker or activities are also included in this section."
All of the data O*NET uses to populate the Content Model for particular occupations is derived from research into the character of occupations (whence the data on occupational requirements, workforce characteristics, and occupation-specific information) and the people working in each occupation (whence worker characteristics, worker requirements, and experience requirements).

With the Content Model supplying the framework, O*NET uses 277 descriptors to characterize over 800 occupations and to store that information in its searchable occupational database. Use of the database will be the subject of tomorrow's post.


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