Friday, October 12, 2007

Service Jobs - Skills

Education and Training Classification System

It is important to pause at this juncture to consider occupational education, experience and training requirements. In the section above I referred to jobs requiring college degree training or jobs requiring professional skills. It might appear these are my terms, but that is not correct. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has many people assigned to study the more than 700 United States occupations. They survey employers to find out what someone has to know and do to qualify for employment in each occupation. They go to colleges and universities to learn about the curriculum for degree training. They study state regulations to know licensing or certification requirements. Categorizing education, experience and training for occupations is on going work, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics skills taxonomy reflects the current education, experience and training associated with data reported within its occupational categories. This taxonomy appears in the Tables below.

The degree requirements and education in Table I give the minimum of formal education typically required for entry into an occupation. The first four of the Bureau of Labor Statistics education categories give the minimum of college degree skills required for entry to work in an occupation.


Table I - Education Categories

1. Doctoral or Professional Degree-Completion of a doctoral degree (PhD) usually requires at least three years of full-time academic work beyond a bachelor’s degree. Completion of a professional degree usually requires at least three years of full-time academic study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Examples of occupations for which a professional degree is the typical form of entry-level education include lawyers, physicians and surgeons, and dentists.
2. Master's Degree–Completion of this degree usually requires 1 or 2 years of full-time academic study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Examples of occupations in this category include statisticians, physician’s assistants, and educational, vocational, and school counselors.
3. Bachelor's degree –Completion of this degree generally requires at least 4 years, but not more than 5 years, of full-time academic study beyond high school. Examples of occupations in this category include budget analysts, dietitians, and civil engineers.
4. Associate Degree -Completion of this degree generally requires at least 2 years but not more than 4 years of full-time academic study beyond high school. Examples of occupations in this category include mechanical drafters, respiratory therapists, and dental hygienists.
5. Post-secondary non degree award-These programs lead to a certificate or other award, but not a degree. The certificate is awarded by the educational institution and is the result of completing formal postsecondary schooling. Certification, which is issued by a professional organization or certifying body, is not included here. Some postsecondary non degree award programs last only a few weeks, while others may last 1 to 2 years. Examples of occupations in this category include nursing aides, emergency medical technicians, (EMTs) and paramedics, and hairstylists.
6. Some College, no Degree-This category signifies the achievement of a high school diploma or equivalent plus the completion of one or more postsecondary courses that did not result in a degree or award. Examples of occupations in this category are actors and computer support specialists.
7. High School Diploma or Equivalent-This category signifies the completion of high school or an equivalent program resulting in the award of a high school diploma or an equivalent, such as the General Educational Development (GED) credential. Examples of occupations in this category include social and human service assistants and pharmacy technicians.
8. Less than High School-This category signifies the completion of any level of primary or secondary education that did not result in the award of a high school diploma or equivalent. Examples of occupations in this category include janitors and cleaners, cashiers, and caret installers.
The term required has a broad use. In some occupations the degree is absolutely necessary and a candidate will not be considered without the required degree. These include occupations where a degree is required to begin an intern or residency program to complete licensing requirements by the state or by a private association empowered by the state. Physicians and surgeons, veterinarians, architects, lawyers, and counselors all have professional degree requirements.

In other occupations, a college degree is not strictly required but the skills needed before entry are such that a degree is strongly preferred by employers and candidates without a degree are much less likely to be considered, much less employed. Categories emphasize the sources and length of training preferred by employers. Training might be post-secondary, vocational, college classes, or the general work force skills associated with a high school degree or high school classes. The duration of training could range from a week or two to many years.

Prior experience and on the job training are part of the skills taxonomy. Table II has four categories of work experience in a related occupation that go from none to more than 5 years. Over 80 percent of the occupations do not need work experience in a related occupation. However, all but one or two managerial occupations require experience in a related occupation. For example, advertising managers usually need experience in the advertising industry before they are ready to be advertising managers. First line managers or supervisors of retail workers usually need to have related experience in retailing as retail salesperson before they are ready to be managers.


Table II - Work Experience in Related Occupation

1. More than 5 years-This is assigned to occupations if more than 5 years of work experience in a related occupation is typically needed for entry. Examples include construction managers and computer and information systems managers.
2. 1 to 5 Years-To enter occupations in this category, workers typically need 1-5 years of work experience in a relation occupation. Examples include marketing managers and database administrators.
3. Less than a year- Examples of occupations that typically need less than 1 year of work experience in a related occupation include restaurant cooks and industrial truck and tractor operators.
4. None-No work in related occupation is typically needed. Examples are audiologists and actuaries

Table III has six categories that describe skills learned through on-the-job training. Skills learned on-the-job are not entry level skills, but occupation specific skills that could be transferred to another job. New hires bring education and training to the job, but on-the-job training is additional skills learned and perfected after taking a job.

Medicine and education account for most of the internship and residency programs. Apprenticeship programs apply to construction trades workers and a few more occupations like funeral service managers and appraisers of real estate. Long term on the job training can include employer sponsored work programs or combined classroom and work training programs. Long term means 12 months or more. Occupations that typically need long term training to be fully competent include electric and electronics mechanics, installers and repair workers, automobile, bus, vehicle and equipment mechanics and repair workers and plant operators. Also police, fire and rescue workers, and flight attendants typically need long term training.

Moderate term on the job training combines job experience with a mentor or other informal training. Moderate term means 1 to 12 months. Jobs needing moderate term on the job training run a broad range of entry level skills from a baccalaureate degree to less than high school. Loan counselors, insurance underwriters, tax examiners are examples of jobs that need both college degree skills and moderate on the job training. Other jobs like school bus driver and flight attendant need only a high school degree for entry but require additional on the job training.


Table III – On the Job Training

1. Internship/Residency-A internship or residency is training that involves preparation in a field such as medicine or teaching, generally under supervision in a professional setting such as a hospital or classroom. This type of training may occur before one is employed. Completion of an internship or residency program is commonly required for state licensure or certification in fields including medicine, counseling, architecture, and teaching. This category does not include internships that are suggested for advancement. Examples of occupations in the internship/residency category include physicians and surgeons and marriage and family therapists.
2. Apprenticeship-An apprenticeship is a formal relationship between a worker and sponsor that consists of a combination of on the job training and related occupation-specific technical instruction in which the worker learns the practical and theoretical aspects of an occupation. Apprenticeship programs are sponsored by individual employers, joint employer and labor groups, and employer associations. The typical apprenticeship program provides at least 144 hours of occupation-specific technical instruction and 2,000 hours of on the job training per year over a 3 to 5 year period. Examples of occupations in the apprenticeship category include electricians and structural iron and steel workers.
3. Long term on the job training-More than 12 months of on-the-job training or, alternatively, combined work experience and formal classroom instruction, are needed for workers to develop the skills necessary to attain competency. Training is occupation specific rather than job specific; therefore, skills learned can be transferred to another job in the same occupation. This on-the-job training category also includes employer-sponsored training programs. Such programs include those offered by fire and police academies and schools for air traffic controllers and flight attendants. In other occupations -- nuclear power reactor operators, for example – trainees take formal courses, often provided at the jobsite, to prepare for the required licensing exams. This category excludes apprenticeships. Examples of occupations in the long term on the job training category include opticians and automotive service technicians and mechanics.
4. Moderate term on the job training-Moderate term on-the-job training; Skills needed for a worker to attain competency in an occupation that can be acquired during 1 to 12 months of combined on the job experience and informal training. Training is occupation specific rather that job specific; therefore, skills learned can be transferred to another job in the same occupation. This on-the-job training category also includes employer sponsored training programs. Examples of occupations in the moderate term category include school bus drivers and advertising sales agents.
5. Short term on the job training-Skills needed for a worker to attain competency in an occupation that can be acquired during 1 month or less of on-the-job experience and informal training. Training is occupation-specific rather than job specific; therefore, skills learned can be transferred to another job in the same occupation. This on-the-job training category also includes employer sponsored training programs. Examples of occupations in the short term category include retail salespersons and maids and housekeeping cleaners.
6. None-There is no additional occupation specific training or preparation typically required to attain competency in the occupation. Examples of occupations that do not require occupation-specific on-the-job training include geographers and pharmacists.


Short term on the job training combines demonstration, coaching and informal instruction to be fully competent in an occupation. Short term means a brief period of 1 month or less. Many production occupations in manufacturing like assemblers, operators and machine tenders require brief training. Also clerks, cashiers, telemarketers, hotel and motel staff need short term on the job training.

The largest share of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ standard occupations do not require on the job training: 34 percent have none listed for on the job training. Even though many people learn to do their work faster or more productively on the job, on-the-job training is not desirable for all occupations. Accountants and auditors, surveyors, engineers, pharmacists are all occupations where applicants need to establish competency before they begin.

This taxonomy is the work of many at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and I have adopted their categories in all occupational references. Reference to skills, training and education follows the BLS system. Now you know.


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