Job Analysis Method

Research leader:

Huijts, T

Research team: Sandra Pérez Rodríguez, Tim Huijts, Rolf van der VeldenBabs Jacobs

Funding statement: This project was supported by a grant from NWO-NRO on behalf of the Dutch Ministries of Education, Culture and Science, Economic Affairs, and Social Affairs and Employment (grant 405-17-900/3504).

About the project

This project uses the Job Analysis Method to obtain information on the required literacy and numeracy skill levels in occupations in OECD countries. By generating this information, this project aims to contribute to the further development of the international standards for measuring skill mismatch.

Skill mismatch is a situation of imbalance in which the level or type of skills available does not correspond to the skills required by the labour market. There is evidence that the degree of skill mismatch in OECD countries persists over time, and varies considerably across countries. Skill mismatch represents a loss of investment for individuals, but also for society as a whole. It is therefore important to develop policies which help to promote the optimal utilisation of skills. To achieve this, it is essential that policy makers can rely on reliable and accurate measures of skill mismatch.

Three different methods have been used so far to measure skill mismatch: worker self-assessment (the worker him/herself states the level required for his/her job), realized matches (taking the average skill level in an occupation as a proxy for the required level), and the job requirement approach (taking the frequency of use of a skill as a proxy for the required level of such skill). However, each of these methods comes with certain limitations. The first depends on the subjective evaluation of the workers, whereas the second and the third are based on the average level or use of a skill in an occupation, which may not necessarily match the actual skill requirements for this occupation. Self-reported assessments are susceptible to bias, as workers are likely to overestimate their job’s skill requirements, while methods that consider average requirements or average skill use are controversial because they focus on the average characteristics of the workers, without considering the real requirements of the job.

One way of approaching this involves the assessment of skill requirements by occupational experts. Involving occupational experts is considered a reliable approach in the analysis of educational mismatch, and could also be applied to the assessment of skill mismatch. The core idea here is that a normative approach in which occupational experts would establish the standard skill requirements per occupation would allow for an unbiased estimation of skill mismatch. Determining the objective requirements for occupations at an international level through this approach would help to further improve the accuracy of estimates of the incidence of skill mismatch in Western economies. This could in turn provide the ground for further research on the determinants of skill mismatch and policy recommendations. The Job Analysis Method offers an approach that puts this core idea into practice. Applied to skill mismatch, this method requires professional occupational experts to assess the skill requirements per occupation, relying on occupational classification systems.

The aim of this project is therefore to apply the Job Analysis Method to the case of skill mismatch. Through the application of this method, occupational experts determine the critical levels of literacy and numeracy skills required for all occupational unit groups in the International Standard Classification of Occupations 2008 (ISCO-08) using the same framework that was applied to asses individuals’ skill proficiency levels in the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) from the OECD. It is the use of the skill proficiency levels from PIAAC in determining skill requirements that makes this project of added value to existing research. While there is some information on required skill levels in occupations with respect to the domains of literacy and numeracy from other sources (e.g. the requirements regarding Reading Comprehension and Mathematics in the US Occupational Information Network O*NET), this information does not match with the definition of literacy and numeracy in PIAAC, nor does it provide those skill levels in the same metric as the PIAAC skill proficiency scales, which is essential to derive skill mismatch estimates.


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