Friday, March 17, 2017

Where—and Which—Skill Demands Are Increasing Fastest

Someone recently asked me which occupations are seeing the greatest increases in skill demands. I decided to find the answer using the O*NET database.

Using the Skills tables from releases 11 (2006) and 21.2 (the most recent release), I compared the skill requirements for each occupation. Specifically, I used the Level scale and subtracted the rating for release 11 from the level for release 21.2. It’s interesting to note that the difference was not always a positive number; that is, for some skills for some occupations, the required skill level went down.

But I was interested in the total difference for each occupation, so I summed the differences and then ordered the occupations by this figure. Here, in descending order, are the top 20 occupations—that is, the occupations that had the greatest increases in their skill requirements:

Plasterers and Stucco Masons
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
Criminal Investigators and Special Agents
Management Analysts
Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians
Engineering Teachers, Postsecondary
Agricultural Engineers
Sales Engineers
Forestry and Conservation Science Teachers, Postsecondary
Fire Investigators
Forest and Conservation Workers
Respiratory Therapy Technicians
Structural Metal Fabricators and Fitters
Helpers--Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
Segmental Pavers
Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas
Geophysical Data Technicians
Materials Scientists
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

The list is dominated by construction, engineering, and health-care occupations.

I was interested in which particular skills had the biggest increases for these occupations, so I sorted them, and here are the top 5 ramped-up skills for the top 5 occupations:

Plasterers and Stucco Masons: Equipment Maintenance; Equipment Selection; Technology Design; Repairing; Operations Analysis.

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: Equipment Selection; Equipment Maintenance; Repairing; Installation; Troubleshooting.

Criminal Investigators and Special Agents: Equipment Selection; Equipment Maintenance; Repairing; Installation; Troubleshooting.

Management Analysts: Operation and Control; Installation; Equipment Maintenance; Quality Control Analysis; Troubleshooting.

Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians: Technology Design; Installation; Equipment Selection; Mathematics; Management of Material Resources.

It should be no surprise that the common thread among these increases in skill demands is technology. Technology is playing an increasing role in all of these industries.

Finally, I thought it would be interesting to see which skills showed increased demands across all occupations. Here are the top 10 O*NET skills, in descending order:

Equipment Selection
Technology Design
Equipment Maintenance
Learning Strategies
Operations Analysis

Again, it’s no surprise to find technology-related skills heavily represented here. And the presence of Learning Strategies indicates that workers need to be able to learn the new technologies that are being deployed in their worksites. It’s also interesting to find Instructing at the #10 spot. Evidently, as workers are spending more time in teams, it’s getting more important for them to be able to bring their teammates up to speed on the new technologies.


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  2. Thanks for sharing useful information about increasing careers and careers in demand in various field.