has been considerably reduced. We believe that O*NET, when fully developed and given adequate support and maintenance, will provide a useful tool for tracking changes in work, assisting in job design, and in supporting employment decisions. The following discussion of O*NET™ is divided into three sections—a description of the components of the content model, a general statement regarding prototype evaluation, and a brief presentation of the electronic database and sample screens. More detail on the evaluation is found in Appendix A.

The Content Model The system was conceptualized as a way to aid a wide range of users, such as job applicants, career counselors, training specialists, displaced workers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, recruiters, state and federal labor and manpower specialists, and public- and private-sector employers. The system was designed to address an impressive array of tasks, including:

  • determining aptitude and skill requirements for jobs,
  • assessing a person's suitability for an occupation,
  • developing training standards and competency standards for jobs,
  • comparing the skills required for a displaced worker's previous and prospective jobs, and
  • documenting physical and contextual demands of jobs.

Although it may seem difficult to envision an occupational information system capable of serving so many goals and the needs of so many users, this was nonetheless the design goal for O*NET™.

The content model developed for O*NET™ is based on three key postulates (Peterson et al., 1995, 1999). First, jobs can be described quantitatively according to variables that generalize across jobs. For example, they may be described in terms of inductive reasoning or the physical requirements that apply to many jobs. The content model is designed to be a general, reasonably stable descriptive system. Second, multiple windows (organizing systems) can be used to observe the world of work. Each window reflects a set of descriptors associated with an applied use of the system. For example, skills and knowledge are of pri-

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement