Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series
Do Postsecondary Graduates Land High‑skilled Jobs?

by Marc Frenette and Kristyn Frank
Social Analysis and Modelling Division, Statistics Canada

Release date: January 24, 2017

Abstract

This study examines the relationship between occupational skill requirements and educational attainment (the highest level completed and the field of study). Using the 2011 National Household Survey matched to data from the Occupational Information Network (which contains information on occupational skill requirements), the study uncovers many new findings on the skill requirements of jobs held by Canadians aged 25 to 34 with different educational qualifications.

First, skill‑level requirements in all areas generally increase with higher educational levels. There are three notable exceptions to this trend, however: requirements for technical operation and maintenance skills do not generally increase with more schooling; doctoral graduates require considerably less resource management skills than other university graduates; and professional‑degree holders have jobs that require lower mathematics skills than other university graduates, although this is entirely because of law graduates. Moreover, skill requirements are almost always higher among bachelor’s degree holders and college graduates of specific disciplines, compared with high school graduates.

Second, skill requirements vary considerably by field of study. For example, bachelor’s degree holders in architecture, engineering, and related technologies generally work in multidimensional jobs requiring diverse, high‑level skills. In fact, these graduates rank at the top or very close to the top in eight of the nine skills examined. In contrast, bachelor’s degree holders in three fields (education; visual and performing arts, and communications technologies; and humanities) generally rank lower than other bachelor’s degree holders in most skills examined. However, the skill requirements of college graduates and bachelor’s degree holders are very different across fields of study. While skill requirements are almost always higher among bachelor’s degree holders than among college graduates from the same discipline, the relative ranking of disciplines tends to differ for each level.

Finally, there are considerably more gender differences among college graduates than among bachelor’s degree holders with regard to skill requirements by field of study.

Keywords: postsecondary education, occupational skills

Executive summary

This study examines the skills required for the jobs held by young Canadians, with a focus on postsecondary graduates. The information on occupational skill requirements is drawn from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), which was developed in the United States. These data have been matched at the occupational level to the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) in Canada.

In total, 495 of the 500 National Occupational Classification codes were assigned information on skill requirements in the 2011 NHS. This information consisted of the skill level and the importance of the skill for each occupation, obtained from job incumbents and rated by occupational analysts. This study focuses primarily on the skill level. In O*NET, 35 skill areas are available, but these were reduced to 9 by factor analysis to simplify the analysis. These skill areas include reading comprehension; writing; mathematics; science; process, complex problem solving, and systems; social; technical operation and maintenance; technical design and analysis; and resource management.

The main analytical sample consists of men and women between the ages of 25 and 34, to focus on young graduates who likely obtained their credentials in recent years. In addition, only individuals who worked 30 or more hours as a paid employee in a defined occupation during the census reference week are retained. These sample restrictions result in a final sample of 247,781 men and 196,302 women.

The study uncovers many new findings on the skill requirements of jobs held by Canadians with different schooling backgrounds.

First, skill‑level requirements in all areas generally increase with higher educational levels. There are three notable exceptions to this trend, however: requirements for technical operation and maintenance skills do not generally increase with more schooling, doctoral graduates require considerably less resource management skills than other university graduates, and professional‑degree holders have jobs that require lower mathematics skills than other university graduates, although this is entirely because of law graduates. Moreover, skill requirements are almost always higher among bachelor’s degree holders and college graduates of specific disciplines, compared with high school graduates.

Second, skill requirements vary considerably by field of study. For example, bachelor’s degree holders in architecture, engineering, and related technologies generally work in multidimensional jobs requiring diverse, high‑level skills. In fact, these graduates rank at the top or very close to the top in eight of the nine skills examined. In contrast, bachelor’s degree holders in three fields (education; visual and performing arts, and communications technologies; and humanities) generally rank lower than other bachelor’s degree holders in most skills examined. However, the skill requirements of college graduates and bachelor’s degree holders are very different across fields of study. While skill requirements are almost always higher among bachelor’s degree holders than among college graduates from the same discipline, the relative ranking of disciplines tends to differ for each level.

Finally, there are considerably more gender differences among college graduates than among bachelor’s degree holders with regard to skill requirements by field of study.

1. Introduction

Postsecondary students generally base their choice of program on a combination of several factors, including interest, program availability and cost, and outcomes associated with the program choice. The most readily available information on graduate outcomes consists of employment and earnings (e.g., Frank, Frenette and Morissette 2015; Ostrovsky and Frenette 2014). Some studies have looked at over qualification rates among university graduates (e.g., Uppal and LaRochelle‑Côté 2014).

This study contributes to the literature on postsecondary graduate outcomes by considering an alternative outcome, namely occupational skill requirements.

To date, there is no information available on the specific skills that graduates actually use in their jobs. The skill requirements of jobs held by postsecondary graduates are clearly important to students, because these are indicative of what they are likely to be doing after graduation. More generally, an informed choice of program may affect job match, insofar as well‑informed students may be able to avoid career paths that take them outside their areas of interest. If postsecondary programs were directly linked to specific occupations, students could simply look up an occupation and select the required program of study. However, graduates from the same program often hold diverse jobs, and, as a result, many graduates may end up in jobs they did not anticipate when they initially enrolled in their program.Note 1

The study is also informative for policy purposes. Understanding which skills graduates tend to use in the jobs that they land may be useful for educators in the design of programs and courses.

In this study, data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) are matched to those of the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) to examine the skill requirements of jobs held by Canadians aged 25 to 34 with different levels of education and fields of study. The focus is on postsecondary graduates. O*NET was developed in the United States and contains detailed information on skill levels and the importance of each skill within detailed occupations.Note 2,Note 3 Nine skill categories were used in this study, including reading comprehension; writing; mathematics; science; process, complex problem solving, and systems; social; technical operation and maintenance; technical design and analysis; and resource management.

The study is organized as follows. Section 2 reviews the methodology used in the study, and Section 3 describes the results. The study is concluded in Section 4.

2. Methodology

The ultimate goal of the data‑construction portion of the study is to assign the information on occupational skill requirements from O*NETNote 4 (described below) to the 2011 NHS at the occupational level.

O*NET is a database produced by the U.S. Department of LaborNote 5 that provides information on occupational characteristics, such as skills, abilities and general work activities, for several hundred occupations. O*NET was developed to provide high‑quality occupational information to “inform important activities in workforce development, economic development, career development, academic and policy research, and human resource management” (National Research Council 2010, p. 2). For the purposes of this study, only the O*NET skills data are used.

The O*NET skills data are based on ratings from job incumbents, collected in a two‑stage survey of employers and workers, and from trained occupational analysts who base their ratings on a variety of resources, including job titles, descriptions and updated job incumbent ratings. This approach was developed from established job‑analysis methods used by researchers in the fields of industrial and organizational psychology (U.S. Department of Labor 2012). Studies of inter‑rater agreement for O*NET data have examined the variability in ratings between different groups of occupational analysts (Fleisher and Tsacoumis 2012) and between job incumbents and analysts (Tsacoumis and Van Iddekinge 2006). Researchers have found a high degree of consistency in between‑group ratings, particularly with respect to how skills are ranked within and across occupations; these results indicate that both job incumbents and analysts provide reliable ratings (Tsacoumis and Van Iddekinge 2006; Walmsley, Natali and Campbell 2012).

The O*NET data are based on occupational codes from the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC2010). To apply the O*NET information to Canadian occupational data, a concordance between the six‑digit SOC2010 codes (provided in the O*NET database) and the four‑digit 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC2011) codes was developed. This concordance was determined based on the similarity of the occupational descriptions.Note 6 After occupations with no skills data in the O*NET database were dropped, there were 1,153 SOC2010NOC2011 matched pairs. In cases where one SOC2010 code mapped to one or more NOC2011 codes, there were no issues in assigning the O*NET skill information to the NOC2011 codes. However, when more than one SOC2010 code mapped to one NOC2011 code, skill information had to be obtained from a higher SOC2010 level (i.e., from the five‑digit, four‑digit or three‑digit level). Since no Canadian data are coded using SOC2010, the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) was used to assign weights to each contributing SOC2010 code. These weights were based on the relative population frequency of SOC2010 codes in the ACS.

In some instances, a six‑digit SOC2010 code had “breakout” (i.e., new or emerging) sub‑occupations. Since there were no estimates of population size for these sub‑occupations, it was assumed that they were of equal size within a six‑digit SOC2010 code. After the breakout occupations were aggregated, 1,058 SOC2010NOC2011 matched pairs remained. This number included 495 unique four‑digit NOC2011 codes.Note 7

Of these 495 unique NOC2011 codes, 336 were matched with a six‑digit SOC2010 code. For the remaining 159 NOC2011 codes, higher‑level SOC2010 codes had to be used, because more than one six‑digit SOC2010 code mapped to them (i.e., the ACS data were used at this stage). Among these 159 NOC2011 codes, 119 were matched with five‑digit SOC2010 codes, 38 were matched with four‑digit SOC2010 codes, and the remaining 2 were matched with three‑digit SOC2010 codes.

At this stage, the 495 unique NOC2011 codes contained the information on occupational skill requirements from O*NET. The data on occupational skill requirements were then linked to the NOC2011 codes in the NHS data. Specifically, the skills information includes the skill‑importance requirements and the skill‑level requirements in 35 areas. The information on skill requirements was provided by job incumbents (selected in a two‑step random sample of business establishments and workers) who filled out a questionnaire. Job incumbents were asked to rate the importance of specific skills to the performance of their current job, as well as the level of these skills needed to perform their current job. The importance scale ranges from 1 to 5, with a value of 1 indicating “not important” and a value of 5 indicating “extremely important.” If more than 75% of respondents rated a skill as “not important,” occupational analysts identified the corresponding skill level as “not relevant.”Note 8 In this study, these occupations were assigned a skill‑level value of 0. When skills are rated as “somewhat important” or higher, skill levels are determined based on a scale of 1 to 7, where 7 is the highest level. Examples of tasks were provided for some of the values as a guide for job incumbents to determine the level of complexity of skills.Note 9 In this study, the primary focus is on the skill level. However, results were also produced for the measure of skill importance (shown in Tables A.7 to A.9 in Appendix A).

The list of occupational skill requirements was shortened from 35 specific skills to 9 skill groups through confirmatory factor analysis. In this approach, the factors (skill groups) were determined a priori, on conceptual grounds. Similar to the approach used by Imai, Stacey and Warman (2014), a high factor loading was required for specific skills to be retained in the factors.Note 10 The threshold for factor loadings was set at 0.75, and all skills met this requirement. The nine skill groups that emerged from the factor analysis,Note 11 along with lists of specific skillsNote 12 when applicable, are the same for the measures of skill level and skill importance. They are the following:

The analytical sample includes men and women between the ages of 25 and 34, to focus on young graduates who likely obtained their credentials in recent years. Some results are generated by highest level of completed education, including less than a high school diploma, a high school diploma, a trades certificate, registered apprenticeship, a college certificate, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, a doctorate, or a professional degree. People with a university certificate above or below a bachelor’s degree are excluded, given the small sample sizes. Among postsecondary graduates, only those whose location of study was in Canada are included. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree whose field of study was “Law (LLB, JD, BCL)” are coded as professional‑degree holders.Note 13,Note 14 In addition, only individuals who worked 30 or more hours as a paid employee in a defined occupation during the reference week are retained. These sample restrictions result in a final sample of 247,781 men and 196,302 women.

The standardized factors were derived from this broad sample and were then regressed by ordinary least squares on measures of educational attainment, as well as age, age squared and immigrant status. In all cases, the regressions were estimated on the broad sample, even though results are shown separately by sex, level of education and field of study. Thus, comparisons may be made across these three dimensions.

The fields of study are based on the primary groupings of the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Canada 2011. Eleven groupings are used:Note 15

The coefficients of interest in the regression models are those associated with the highest level of completed education and field of study. When these variables are included in the model, the usual approach is to drop one category and interpret the coefficients relative to this reference category. While this method may be effective for examining educational levels (given the inherent hierarchy across levels that is based on usual time to completion), it may be less suitable for the analysis of fields of study. In this study, this method is particularly problematic because the selected reference field of study that is omitted may, depending on the skill examined, be a top, middle or bottom category. Therefore, to facilitate comparisons across skill categories, the coefficients of interest were expressed relative to the average coefficient, as described by Andrews et al. (1967).Note 16 This approach, termed “multiple classification analysis,” requires that all coefficients be included in the model. The coefficients were interpreted as the number of standard deviations above or below the average skill level (the positive coefficient and the negative coefficient, respectively). For consistency, this approach was also used for the analysis of educational levels.

3. Results

Table A.4 in Appendix A shows the detailed results of regressions of the skill‑level requirement values on the highest level of completed education and other covariates. The coefficients are expressed in standard deviations and are relative to the average relationship between educational level and the occupational skill in question. To facilitate analysis of all skills, the average coefficient across all skill areas is shown for each level of schooling. Charts 1 and 2 illustrate these results for both men and women.Note 17

In general, young men and women who are more highly educated face higher levels of occupational skill requirements, including in social skills.

However, there are some notable exceptions to this trend, particularly in technical operation and maintenance skills. On average, university graduates require below‑average technical operation and maintenance skills (i.e., the coefficients are negative). Above‑average technical operation and maintenance skills are required for male non‑university postsecondary graduates, particularly those who report a registered apprenticeship or a trades certificate as their highest level of completed education. For women, technical operation and maintenance skill requirements are below the average regardless of completed schooling. Moreover, such skills are no more required among women with a trades certificate or a registered apprenticeship than among other women.

In addition, graduates with a professional degree face lower mathematics skill requirements in their jobs than other university graduates. However, this result is attributable to graduates of law programs. Non‑law professional‑degree holders (in medicine, dentistry, optometry and veterinary medicine) rank as high as other university graduates in mathematics skill requirements.Note 18

Another exception to the positive relationship between educational attainment and skill requirements concerns doctoral graduates. The resource management skill requirements for both men and women, although above the overall average, are below those of other university graduates.Note 19

Charts 1 and 2 also display interesting differences by sex, although the results are very different for university graduates and for non‑university graduates. Among individuals with a university degree, men generally require higher skills than women in mathematics, technical operation and maintenance, technical design and analysis, and resource management. In all other skill areas, job requirements are similar for university‑educated men and women. Among non‑university‑educated individuals, requirements are lower for men than for women in reading comprehension, writing and social skills. Technical operation and maintenance skills are lower for women without a university degree than for their male counterparts. In all other skill areas, requirements are similar.

The distribution of occupations in which graduates from specific fields tend to work is worth describing, because it can provide a useful reference point for the results by field of study that follow. To this end, Table 1 shows the 10 most common occupations for men aged 25 to 34 who hold a bachelor’s degree, by field of study.Note 20

The field of study that is associated with the most concentrated set of occupations is education: 76.2% of its male bachelor’s degree holders are either secondary school teachers or elementary school and kindergarten teachers. The humanities field and the social and behavioural sciences and law field are the most diverse with respect to occupational distribution: the top 10 occupations account for approximately one‑quarter of graduates in both cases. In fact, no occupation accounts for as much as 5% of male bachelor’s degree holders from these two fields.

One occupation without a clear association to any specific field of study is retail salesperson. Although this occupation is in the top 10 for 8 of the 11 fields of study, it always accounts for less than 5% of graduates in any discipline.

The detailed results of the skills analysis by field of study appear in Table A.5 in Appendix A for bachelor’s degree holders. The coefficients also appear in Charts 3 to 11. Graduates from every discipline require above‑average reading comprehension skills; writing skills; process, complex problem‑solving, and systems skills; and social skills. Interestingly, graduates from technical fields, such as architecture, engineering, and related technologies, rank first in reading comprehension and writing skill requirements. Graduates in mathematics, computer and information sciences also rank among the top fields for both of these skill measures. In contrast, education graduates and humanities graduates rank near the bottom in both areas.

It is important to note that this study tracks the skills required to perform the duties associated with the jobs (occupations) that graduates land. Graduates from a given discipline may possess very high skills (e.g., in reading comprehension); however, this does not guarantee that they will find jobs that require them to fully utilize these skills.

Bachelor’s degree graduates from most disciplines require above‑average skill levels in mathematics, science, technical design and analysis, and resource management. In all cases, graduates who require below‑average skill levels in these areas come from one of three disciplines: education; visual and performing arts, and communications technologies; and humanities.

Most graduates require below‑average or average technical operation and maintenance skills. Graduates from a small number of disciplines require above‑average technical operation and maintenance skills, including those from architecture, engineering, and related technologies. This is also the case for men from programs in mathematics, computer and information sciences, and men from programs in personal, protective and transportation services.

Graduates from programs in architecture, engineering, and related technologies tend to land jobs requiring the most diverse set of advanced skills. More specifically, they rank first in all areas of skill requirements, with the exception of technical design and analysis skills for men (second) and social skills for men and women (fourth among men and third among women).

The very diverse skill set required of graduates from the field of architecture, engineering, and related technologies coincides with their superior pay. In fact, they rank near the top of the lifetime earnings distribution among graduates, along with graduates from the field of business, management and public administration (Ostrovsky and Frenette 2014). Although the skill requirements for graduates from programs in business, management and public administration are mostly above average, these graduates rank fairly low in requirements for science skills and technical operation and maintenance skills. Interestingly, they rank second (among men) and third (among women) in resource management skill requirements.

Graduates from the field of mathematics, computer and information sciences also require higher‑level skills relative to other disciplines. They rank second (behind graduates from programs in architecture, engineering, and related technologies) based on their average skill requirements across all nine areas (see Table A.5‑2).

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the graduates who tend to require the lowest skill levels in the jobs they land are those from programs in education; visual and performing arts, and communications technologies; and humanities. In general, graduates from these disciplines tend to earn considerably less than other graduates over their lifetime (Ostrovsky and Frenette 2014). Male graduates from these 3 fields can be found in the bottom 4 fields (out of 11) in six of the nine skill areas, and female graduates from the same 3 fields can be found in the bottom 3 fields in six of the nine skill areas. These graduates—men and women—are never in the top four disciplines in any skill areas. Interestingly, graduates from programs in visual and performing arts, and communications technologies rank last in social skill requirements for their jobs, but are about average with respect to requirements for technical operation and maintenance skills and technical design and analysis skills.

Some fields consistently rank in the middle of several skill groups. In particular, graduates from programs in social and behavioural sciences and law have a mid‑level ranking among bachelor’s degree holders in writing; mathematics; social; technical design and analysis; and resource management skills. In addition, graduates from programs in agriculture, natural resources and conservation have mid‑level rankings for reading comprehension and writing skills, while humanities graduates rank near the middle for social skills.

How do bachelor’s degree holders from the lower‑ranked disciplines compare with high school graduates? Table A.5 provides the answer by redisplaying the high school results from Table A.4. In general, compared with the skill requirements for high school graduates, skill requirements tend to be greater for bachelor’s degree holders from programs in education; visual and performing arts, and communications technologies; and humanities. However, there are some notable exceptions. For example, technical operation and maintenance skill requirements are considerably higher for male high school graduates. For women, technical operation and maintenance skill requirements are about the same for high school graduates as for graduates of these three disciplines. In addition, some skill requirements are higher for high school graduates than for bachelor’s degree holders in education (e.g., technical design and analysis, and, for women, mathematics). Finally, high school graduates and bachelor’s degree holders in education face similar resource management skill requirements in their jobs.Note 21

The results also indicate that the relative rankings of fields are generally similar for men and women, although there are some interesting differences between men and women with degrees in health and related fields. Indeed, women in this field have higher skill‑level requirements than their male counterparts across all areas except technical operation and maintenance skills and technical design and analysis skills. This contrast in skill requirements is largely attributable to differences in the choice of specific field of study within the broader field. Women studied primarily in nursing programs, comprising 56% of female graduates in health and related fields. In comparison, only 12% of male graduates in health and related fields studied nursing, while just over 40% studied physical education and fitness. Graduates from nursing programs generally landed jobs that require higher skill levels in a broad range of areas, compared with physical education and fitness graduates.

Table A.6 in Appendix A presents the detailed results for college graduates, by field of study, and the coefficients from these models appear in charts A.1 to A.9 (also in Appendix A). The relative rankings among college graduates are somewhat different from those that are registered among bachelor’s degree holders. In particular, the relative ranking of male college graduates in architecture, engineering, and related technologies is considerably lower than that of their counterparts with a bachelor’s degree in the same discipline. The differences are most striking in the areas of reading comprehension; writing; and process, complex problem solving, and systems. At the bachelor’s degree level, male graduates from programs in architecture, engineering, and related technologies rank first in all three of these skill areas. At the college level, they rank ninth in reading comprehension and writing skills, and eighth in process, complex problem solving, and systems skills. However, they rank highly in technical operation and maintenance skills and technical design and analysis skills among college graduates.

Male college graduates from programs in mathematics, computer and information sciences have the highest overall ranking across all nine areas of skill requirements. In fact, they rank in the top three in all skill areas (first in skill areas such as reading comprehension; writing; mathematics; process, complex problem solving, and systems; and technical design and analysis). At the bachelor’s degree level, male graduates from these programs land in the top three in only five skill areas.

Graduates from programs in education, in visual and performing arts, and communications technologies, and in humanities, who rank near the bottom in most skill areas among bachelor’s degree holders, fare somewhat better in a relative sense among college graduates. While they still rank below the average in most skill areas at the college level, they are closer to the middle in many cases.

College graduates and bachelor’s degree holders from the same discipline may also be compared. Skill requirements are generally higher among bachelor’s degree holders in all areas except technical operation and maintenance. Male college graduates in most fields land jobs that require higher technical operation and maintenance skills than their counterparts with a bachelor’s degree. For women, technical operation and maintenance skill requirements are generally similar for college graduates and bachelor’s degree holders in most fields. Interestingly, science skill requirements are about the same for bachelor’s degree holders and college graduates in physical and life sciences and technologies.

At the college level, the relative rankings of disciplines across all nine skill areas are quite different for men and women. For example, graduates from programs in social and behavioural sciences and law rank 6th overall among men, but last (11th) among women. Graduates from programs in personal, protective and transportation services rank 7th among men, but only 10th among women. Finally, graduates from programs in mathematics, computer and information sciences rank first overall among men, but third among women. More importantly, their overall skill level is about one‑half of a standard deviation above the average for men, but very close to the average for women.Note 22

It was shown above that among bachelor’s degree holders, female graduates in health and related fields require higher skills than their male counterparts in seven of the nine areas, largely because of the higher propensity of female graduates to select nursing. At the college level, it is male graduates who require higher skills in five areas. Women in health and related fields at the college level are only somewhat more likely to select nursing programs (15%) than men (10%).

Lastly, although the skill requirements of college graduates are much closer to those of high school graduates (compared with the proximity of skill requirements between bachelor’s degree holders and high school graduates), it is almost always the case that college graduates in any discipline require higher levels of skills in their job than high school graduates.

4. Conclusion

This study examined the skills required for the jobs held by Canadians aged 25 to 34, with a focus on postsecondary graduates. The information on occupational skill requirements was drawn from the Occupational Information Network, which was developed in the United States. These data were matched to the 2011 National Household Survey at the occupational level. The skills information consisted of the level and importance of each skill for each occupation, obtained from job incumbents and rated by occupational analysts. The primary focus of the study was on the skill level, although results based on the importance of skills were also produced.

The study uncovered many new findings on the skill requirements of jobs held by postsecondary graduates.

First, skill‑level requirements in all areas generally increase with higher educational levels. There are three notable exceptions to this trend, however: requirements for technical operation and maintenance skills do not generally increase with more schooling, doctoral graduates require considerably less resource management skills than other university graduates, and professional‑degree holders have jobs that require lower mathematics skills than other university graduates, although this is entirely because of law graduates. Moreover, skill requirements are almost always higher among bachelor’s degree holders and college graduates of specific disciplines, compared with high school graduates.

Second, skill requirements vary considerably by field of study. For example, bachelor’s degree holders in architecture, engineering, and related technologies generally work in multidimensional jobs requiring diverse, high‑level skills. In fact, these graduates rank at the top or very close to the top in eight of the nine skills examined. In contrast, bachelor’s degree holders in three fields (education; visual and performing arts, and communications technologies; and humanities) generally rank lower than other bachelor’s degree holders in most skills examined. However, the skill requirements of college graduates and bachelor’s degree holders are very different across fields of study. While skill requirements are almost always higher among bachelor’s degree holders than among college graduates from the same discipline, the relative ranking of disciplines tends to differ for each level.

Finally, there are considerably more gender differences among college graduates than among bachelor’s degree holders with regard to skill requirements by field of study.

An important next step in this literature would be to develop a measure of skill match that compares occupational skill requirements to the worker’s assessed skills.

Appendix A Additional results tables and charts

This appendix contains the top 10 occupations for female bachelor’s degree‑holders and male and female college graduates in Tables A.1 to A.3. In addition, it also contains all the detailed results for skill levels in Tables A.4 to A.6, and for skill importance in Tables A.7 to A.9. Finally, the coefficients of the skill level results by college field of study are shown in Charts A.1 to A.9.

The results for skill‑importance scores by educational level are generally similar to the findings for skill‑level requirements (Table A.7). Skill importance increased with educational levels across most skill groups, with a few exceptions. The results indicate that mathematics skills are less important for professional‑degree holders, and the importance of technical design and analysis skills is highest for master’s degree holders. The results for technical operation and maintenance skills among men are a notable exception, as these skills are most important for the jobs held by graduates of registered apprenticeship programs (nearly 1.5 standard deviations above the average); these skills decrease in importance as the educational level increases. In addition, social skills and resource management skills are less important for doctoral graduates than for all other university graduates.

The skill‑importance measures also provide further information about the skill requirements of postsecondary graduates by field of study.

In some cases, results for bachelor’s degree holders (Table A.8) are similar to the skill‑level findings. For example, with the exception of social skills, male and female graduates from programs in architecture, engineering, and related technologies registered the highest or near highest skill‑importance scores.

Differences between skill level and skill importance are apparent for some fields of study, providing a more nuanced understanding of the role of skills in the work of graduates. For instance, although education graduates with a bachelor’s degree generally work in occupations with lower skill‑level requirements than other bachelor’s degree holders, their importance scores for social skills rank first for both men and women. And, their skill‑importance scores for process, complex problem solving, and systems skills are among the highest for bachelor’s degree holders. Male education graduates also have the third‑ and fourth‑highest skill‑importance scores in writing and reading comprehension, respectively, indicating that they hold jobs where these core skills are valuable. In addition, although graduates from programs in business, management and public administration generally do not have the highest skill levels in most areas, they rank highly in skill‑importance scores for writing, mathematics, and resource management.

The skill‑importance results also provide a different perspective on the skill requirements for college graduates (Table A.9). For example, the skill‑level requirements and skill‑importance scores for college graduates reveal differences across fields for core skills such as reading comprehension, writing, and mathematics. Although female graduates from programs in physical and life sciences and technologies face the highest skill‑level requirements in reading comprehension and writing, these skills are most important in the occupational requirements of graduates from programs in business, management and public administration. Among men, college graduates from programs in mathematics, computer and information sciences have the highest skill‑level requirements in writing and mathematics, but these skills are most important for graduates from programs in education and in business, management and public administration, respectively.

Appendix B O*NET definitions of skills

The following definitions of skills are from the National Center for O*NET Development
(n.d., p. 8, 9).

Reading comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in related documents.
Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Mathematics: Using mathematics to solve problems.
Science: Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

Process, complex problem solving, and systems

Social

Technical operation and maintenance

Technical design and analysis

Resource management

Appendix C Examples of job tasks to determine skill‑level ratings

The following is a selection of examples of job‑related activities provided to job incumbents to help them assess their skill‑level requirements on a scale of 1 to 7. These examples are from the O*NET Skills Questionnaire (O*NET Resource Center, n.d., p. 2–4, 7, 10, 12, 14, 19). Examples are shown below for one selected skill in each of the nine skill groups.

Reading comprehension

“What level of reading comprehension is needed to perform your current job?” Examples include “Read step‑by‑step instructions for completing a form” (rated 2), “Read a memo from management describing new personnel policies” (rated 4), and “Read a scientific journal article describing surgical procedures” (rated 6).

Writing

“What level of writing is needed to perform your current job?” Examples include “Take a telephone message” (rated 2), “Write a memo to staff outlining new directives” (rated 4), and “Write a novel for publication” (rated 6).

Mathematics

“What level of mathematics is needed to perform your current job?” Examples include “Count the amount of change to be given to a customer” (rated 2), “Calculate the square footage of a new home under construction” (rated 4), and “Develop a mathematical model to simulate and resolve an engineering problem” (rated 6).

Science

“What level of science is needed to perform your current job?” Examples include “Conduct standard tests to determine soil quality” (rated 2), “Conduct product tests to ensure safety standards are met, following written instructions” (rated 4), and “Conduct analyses of aerodynamic systems to determine the practicality of an aircraft design” (rated 6).

Process, complex problem solving, and systems

“What level of complex problem solvingis needed to perform your current job?” Examples include “Layout tools to complete a job” (rated 2), “Redesign a floor layout to take advantage of new manufacturing techniques” (rated 4), and “Develop and implement a plan to provide emergency relief for a major metropolitan area” (rated 6).

Social

“What level of social perceptiveness is needed to perform your current job?” Examples include “Notice that customers are angry because they have been waiting too long” (rated 2), “Be aware of how a coworker’s promotion will affect a work group” (rated 4), and “Counsel depressive patients during a crisis period” (rated 6).

Technical operation and maintenance

“What level of equipment maintenance is needed to perform your current job?” Examples include “Add oil to an engine as indicated by a gauge or warning light” (rated 2), “Clean moving parts in production machinery” (rated 4), and “Conduct maintenance checks on an experimental aircraft” (rated 6).

Technical design and analysis

“What level of programming is needed to perform your current job?” Examples include “Write a program in BASIC to sort objects in a database” (rated 2), “Write a statistical analysis program to analyze demographic data” (rated 4), and “Write expert system programs to analyze ground radar geological data for probable existence of mineral deposits” (rated 6).

Resource management

“What level of management of personnel resources is needed to perform your current job?” Examples include “Encourage a coworker who is having difficulty finishing a piece of work” (rated 2), “Direct the activities of a road repair crew with minimal disruption of traffic flow” (rated 4), and “Plan, implement, and manage recruitment, training, and incentive programs for a high performance company” (rated 6).

References

Andrews, F.M., J.N. Morgan, J.A. Sonquist, and L. Klem. 1967. Multiple Classification Analysis: A Report on a Computer Program for Multiple Regression Using Categorical Predictors. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Institute for Social Research.

Autor, D.H., and M.J. Handel. 2013.“Putting tasks to the test: Human capital, jobs tasks and wages.” Journal of Labor Economics 31 (S1): S59–S96.

Fleisher, M.S., and S. Tsacoumis. 2012. O*NET Analyst Occupational Skills Ratings: Analysis Cycle 12 Results. Alexandria, Virginia: Human Resources Research Organization.

Frank, K., M. Frenette, and R. Morissette. 2015. Labour Market Outcomes of Young Postsecondary Graduates, 2005 to 2012. Economic Insights, no. 50. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11‑626‑X. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Handel, M. 2012. Trends in Job Skill Demand in OECD Countries. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, no. 143. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Imai, S., D. Stacey, and C. Warman. 2014. From Engineer to Taxi Driver? Language Proficiency and the Occupational Skills of Immigrants. Working Paper no. 40. Toronto: Department of Economics, Ryerson University.

National Center for O*NET Development. 2012. Data Dictionary: O*NET® 17.0 Database. Available at: http://www.onetcenter.org/dl_files/DataDictionary17_0.pdf (accessed September 1, 2016).

National Center for O*NET Development. n.d. The O*NET Content Model: Detailed Outline with Descriptions. Available at: https://www.onetcenter.org/dl_files/ContentModel_DetailedDesc.pdf (accessed May 25, 2016).

National Research Council. 2010. A Database for a Changing Economy: Review of the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). Ed. N.T. Tippins, M.L. Hilton, Panel to Review the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.

O*NET Resource Center. n.d. O*NET Skills Questionnaire. Available at: http://www.onetcenter.org/dl_files/MS_Word/Skills.pdf (accessed September 1, 2016).

Ostrovsky, Y., and M. Frenette. 2014. The Cumulative Earnings of Postsecondary Graduates over 20 Years: Results by Field of Study. Economic Insights, no. 40. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11‑626‑X. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Quintini, G., and D. Venn. 2013. Back to Work: Re‑employment, Earnings and Skill Use After Job Displacement. OECD Employment Analysis and Policy Division. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Robst, J. 2007. “Education and job match: The relatedness of college major and work.” Economics of Education Review 26 (4): 397–407.

Tsacoumis, S., and C.H. Van Iddekinge. 2006. A Comparison of Incumbent and Analyst Ratings of O*NET Skills. Alexandria, Virginia: Human Resources Research Organization.

Uppal, S., and S. LaRochelle‑Côté. 2014. “Overqualification among recent university graduates in Canada.” Insights on Canadian Society. April. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 75‑006‑X.

U.S. Department of Labor. 2012. O*NET Data Collection Program: Office of Management and Budget Clearance Package Supporting Statement, Part A. Washington, D.C.: Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor.

Walmsley, P.T., M.W. Natali, and J.P. Campbell. 2012. “Only incumbent raters in O*NET? Oh yes! Oh no!” International Journal of Selection and Assessment 20 (3): 283–296.

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