A DATABASE FOR A CHANGING ECONOMY

Review of the Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Panel to Review the Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Nancy T. Tippins and Margaret L. Hilton, Editors

Committee on National Statistics

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

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Panel to Review the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) Nancy T. Tippins and Margaret L. Hilton, Editors Committee on National Statistics Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Govern- ing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineer- ing, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropri- ate balance. This study was supported by Award No. DOLJ081A20686 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Labor. The work of the Committee on National Statistics is supported by a consortium of federal agencies through a grant from the National Science Foundation (Number SES-0453930). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-14769-9 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-14769-7 Additional copies of this report are available from National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2010). A Database for a Changing Economy: Review of the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). Panel to Review the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). Nancy T. Tippins and Margaret L. Hilton, editors. Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behav- ioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Acad- emy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding en- gineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineer- ing programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is presi- dent of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Insti- tute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sci- ences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Coun- cil is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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PANEL TO REvIEW THE OCCuPATIONAL INFORMATION NETWORk (O*NET) NaNcy T. TippiNs (Chair), Valtera Corporation, Greenville, South Carolina DaviD auTor, Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology JohN p. campbell, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota KeiTh ewalD, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Columbus richarD Froeschle, Texas Workforce Commission, Austin les JaNis, Georgia Career Information Center, Georgia State University virgiNia lesser, Department of Statistics, Oregon State University Kerry leviN, Westat, Inc., Rockville, Maryland KeNNeTh pearlmaN, Independent Consultant, Sarasota, Florida aNN marie ryaN, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University JuaN i. saNchez, Department of Management and International Business, Florida International University william shobe, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, University of Virginia margareT l. hilToN, Study Director Thomas J. plewes, Associate Study Director coNsTaNce F. ciTro, Director, Committee on National Statistics reNée l. wilsoN gaiNes, Senior Project Assistant v

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COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS william F. eDDy (Chair), Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University KaThariNe g. abraham, Department of Economics, University of Maryland, and Joint Program in Survey Methodology alicia carriquiry, Department of Statistics, Iowa State University william Dumouchel, Phase Forward, Inc., Waltham, Massachusetts JohN halTiwaNger, Department of Economics, University of Maryland v. Joseph hoTz, Department of Economics, Duke University KareN KaFaDar, Department of Statistics, Indiana University Douglas s. massey, Department of Sociology, Princeton University sally morToN, Statistics and Epidemiology, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina Joseph Newhouse, Division of Health Policy Research and Education, Harvard University samuel h. presToN, Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania hal sTerN, Department of Statistics, University of California, Irvine roger TouraNgeau, Joint Program on Survey Methodology, University of Maryland, and Survey Research Center, University of Michigan alaN zaslavsKy, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School coNsTaNce F. ciTro, Director vi

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Acknowledgments T his report would not have become a reality without the hard work of study panel members, important contributions of leadership and staff of the National Research Council (NRC), and many other in- dividuals and organizations. First, we acknowledge the support of the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the U.S. Department of Labor. We particularly thank O*NET/Competency Modeling Team Leader Pamela Frugoli, whose initial request for the study, ongoing engagement with the panel, and re- sponsiveness to our questions supported the development of the report. We are especially grateful to the experts who quickly responded to our request for presentations and written materials related to O*NET. At our first meeting, Pamela Frugoli and Gay Gilbert of ETA provided an overview of the key questions to be addressed in the study, and David Rivkin and Phil Lewis, O*NET technical officers, presented an overview of the development and current status of the O*NET database and its uses. At our second meeting, we explored different uses of O*NET. We would like to thank Lance Anderson, ICF International; Hope Clark, In- diana Department of Workforce Development; Rada Dorman, Manpower, Inc.; Dan Erdmann, University of Oregon; Bonnie Graybill, California Employment Development Department; G. Francis Green, University of Kent, UK; P. Richard Jeanneret, Valtera Corporation; Sylvia Karman, Social Security Administration; Phil Lewis, National Center for O*NET Develop- ment; Brian O’Leary, Office of Personnel Management; Don Phillips, XAP Corporation; Douglas Reamer, New York Department of Labor; David vii

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viii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Rivkin, National Center for O*NET Development; Dixie Sommers, Bureau of Labor Statistics; and Jane Styer, Department of Defense. At our third meeting, experts provided perspectives on how O*NET might be improved to increase its usefulness and the quality of the data. We thank Marcus Berzofsky, RTI International; Scott Butler, The Usability Team; Erich Dierdorff, DePaul University; Michael Handel, Northeastern University; Robert J. Harvey, Virginia Polytechnic Institute; Fred Morgeson, Michigan State University; Michael Penne, RTI International; Elizabeth Sadler, University of Virginia; Marilyn Silver, JBS Associates; and Suzanne Tsacoumis, Human Resources Research Organization. We thank our colleagues on the panel for their enthusiasm, hard work, and collaborative spirit in writing this report. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the NRC. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical com- ments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the charge. The review com- ments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Lance E. Anderson, Human Capital Strategies, ICF International, Fairfax, VA; Andrew Crapuchettes, Chairman’s Office, Economic Model- ing Solutions, Moscow, ID; J.W. Cunningham, Department of Psychology Emeritus, North Carolina State University; Donald W. Drewes, Department of Psychology, North Carolina State University; Sigrid B. Gustafson, Health Research and Policy Analysis, American Institutes for Research, Chapel Hill, NC; Richard W. Judy, Chairman’s Office, Workforce Associates, India- napolis, IN; S. Morton McPhail, Office of the Senior Vice President, Valtera Corporation, Houston, TX; Frederick P. Morgeson, Eli Broad Graduate School of Management, Michigan State University; Ron Page, Assessment Associates International, LLC, Minnetonka, MN; Norman G. Peterson, Research Directorate, Satisfaction Performance Research Center, Inc., Min- neapolis, MN; Jay J. Pfeiffer, Senior Associate, MPR Associates, Inc; and Alan R. Tupek, Chairman’s Office, Arbitron, Inc., Columbia, MD. Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive com- ments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Neal W. Schmitt, Department of Psychology and Management, Michigan State University. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully con-

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ix ACKNOWLEDGMENTS sidered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring panel and the institution. We are grateful for the leadership and support of Michael Feuer, execu- tive director of the NRC’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, and Constance Citro, director of the Committee on National Statistics. We are particularly grateful for the work of Thomas Plewes, asso- ciate study director, who developed the study scope, assembled an excellent panel and an array of useful background materials, and provided invaluable contributions throughout the study process. Finally, we thank Renée L. Wilson Gaines, senior project assistant in the Center for Education, for her assistance in supporting the panel at every stage of its deliberations and in preparing drafts and revisions of the report. Nancy Tippins, Chair Margaret Hilton, Study Director Panel to Review the Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

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Contents Executive Summary 1 1 Introduction 5 Goals and Program Management, 6 Components of O*NET, 7 A Brief History of O*NET, 11 Charge to the Panel, 15 How the Panel Approached the Charge, 16 Organization of the Report, 17 References, 18 PART I: CORE ELEMENTS OF O*NET 2 The Content Model 21 The Content Model as a Taxonomy, 22 The Dictionary of Occupational Titles Content Model, 23 The APDOT Content Model, 25 The O*NET Prototype Content Model, 26 Development of the Current O*NET Content Model, 37 Conclusions and Recommendations, 42 References, 45 3 Evolution of the Occupational Classification System 49 The O*NET Occupational Classification System, 50 User Views of More Detailed Occupational Information, 54 xi

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xii CONTENTS Conclusions and Recommendations, 57 References, 58 4 The Data Collection Program 61 The O*NET Prototype Development Project, 61 Best Practices in Questionnaire Pretesting, 68 Pretesting of the O*NET Prototype Surveys, 70 Design of the O*NET Collection Program, 73 Data Currency, 85 Conclusions and Recommendations, 86 References, 89 5 The Role of Technology 93 The O*NET User Interface, 93 Uses of the O*NET Database, 99 Structure and Availability of the Database, 100 The Semantic Web, 102 Semantic Web Possibilities for O*NET, 105 Leveraging Development Efforts, 108 Conclusions and Recommendations, 109 References, 110 PART II: MAjOR CuRRENT AND POTENTIAL uSES OF O*NET 6 Workforce Development and Career Development 115 Workforce Development Goals, 115 The Importance of Data Linkage, 117 Career Development, 127 Conclusions and Recommendations, 133 References, 136 7 Human Resource Management 139 Uses of O*NET in Human Resource Management, 140 Strengths and Limitations for Human Resource Management, 148 Conclusions and Recommendations, 152 References, 156 8 Disability Determination 159 Occupational Information Needs of the Social Security Administration, 159 The Future of Occupational Information for Disability Determination, 160 Measurement of Functional Requirements, 163

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xiii CONTENTS Conclusions and Recommendations, 168 References, 169 9 Uses in Research 171 Research Uses of O*NET, 173 Shortcomings of O*NET as a Research Tool, 176 Conclusions and Recommendations, 181 References, 182 PART III: RECOMMENDATIONS 10 Recommendations for the Future of O*NET Recommendations for a High-Quality Database, 187 Recommendations to Enhance Service to Users, 189 APPENDIxES A Dissent 195 B Descriptor Taxonomies Included in the Content Model 199 C Biographical Sketches of Panel Members and Staff 211