Data Sources and Limitations for Occupational Skills

May 25, 2018

Skills data on QualityInfo.org is from the O*NET Program.

About O*NET

The O*NET Program is the nation's primary source of occupational information. Valid data are essential to understanding the rapidly changing nature of work and how it impacts the workforce and U.S. economy. From this information, applications are developed to facilitate the development and maintenance of a skilled workforce.

Central to the project is the O*NET database, containing hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors on almost 1,000 occupations covering the entire U.S. economy. The database, which is available to the public at no cost, is continually updated from input by a broad range of workers in each occupation.

O*NET information is used by millions of individuals every year, including those taking advantage of O*NET Online, My Next Move, and other publicly and privately developed applications. The data have proven vital in helping people find the training and jobs they need, and employers the skilled workers necessary to be competitive in the marketplace.

The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) is developed under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA) through a grant to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Learn more about the O*NET project partners.

 

The O*NET Content Model

Every occupation requires a different mix of knowledge, skills, and abilities, and is performed using a variety of activities and tasks. These distinguishing characteristics of an occupation are described by the O*NET Content Model, which defines the key features of an occupation as a standardized, measurable set of variables called "descriptors". This hierarchical model starts with six domains, describing the day-to-day aspects of the job and the qualifications and interests of the typical worker. The model expands to 277 descriptors collected by the O*NET program, with more collected by other federal agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Data Collection: Real World Information

The O*NET-SOC taxonomy defines the occupations, and the Content Model outlines which information is collected; the Data Collection program brings these frameworks to life with results from the working public. The O*NET database was initially populated by data collected from occupation analysts; this information is updated by ongoing surveys of each occupation's worker population and occupation experts. This data is incorporated into new versions of the database on an annual schedule, to provide up-to-date information on occupations as they evolve over time.

 

O*NET Information on QualityInfo.org

Knowledge — Organized sets of principles and facts applying in general domains.

Skills — Developed capacities that facilitate learning or the more rapid acquisition of knowledge.

Abilities — Enduring attributes of the individual that influence performance.

Detailed Work Activities — Specific work activities that are performed across a small to moderate number of occupations within a job family.

Related Occupations — The O*NET Career Changers Matrix provides related occupation links between occupational codes.