IT Skills in US – The 30 most frequently advertised occupations

This paper explored the size and structure of demand for IT skills in 30 most frequently advertised occupations in the US labour market, providing a cross-section of the mainstream labour market demand for such skills across a wide variety of jobs. The study concerns itself with a granular analysis that provides both a detailed structure of IT skills demand for a given occupation and a comparison of the demand for the same skills across different occupations.

On average, 35% of vacancies request one or more IT skills. There are still occupations where IT literacy is not a frequent condition of recruitment. This is because there is a huge variation between different kinds of jobs. For example, less than 5% of vacancies for personal care aides contained any IT skills, while more than 92% of advertisements for meeting and convention planners did. In other words, demand for IT skills ranges from rare to universal, depending on the occupation. As the example shows, high demand for IT skills is not limited to ‘IT professions’. In our sample, occupations with the highest share of different types of IT skills demanded are, in addition to the already mentioned meeting and convention planners, also secretaries and customer service representatives.

We furthermore found a strong level of consistency between IT intensity as measured by demand for IT skills in job advertisements and based on tasks associated with individual occupations by labour market experts. Where there was a difference between two measures, it largely appears to be caused by vacancies not mentioning basic IT skills (possibly implicitly expecting candidates to possess them) or by demanding specific IT skills not foreseen by the experts (suggesting potential technological up-skilling of occupations).

Given the vast number and differentiation of various IT skills, the paper also provides a conceptualisation for classification into basic, intermediate and advanced skills. For basic and intermediate skills, it also constructs an IT skills pyramid dependent on the frequency with which the specific skills is requested. The paper finds that the absolute frequency of how much a specific skills is demanded does differ across low-, medium- and high-skilled occupations, with individual IT skills usually being more demanded for overall more skill-intensive occupations (as measured by ISCO classification). On the other hand, their relative ranking in the pyramid generally does not.
Demand for basic IT skills – such as email, internet browsing or generic ‘computer’ skills – is highly diffused across the economy, even among low-skilled jobs. The paper finds very strong demand for basic IT skills, such as knowledge of working with a computer. Interestingly, such demand is commonly explicitly mentioned, even in the case of medium to high skill occupations. Furthermore, the structure of demand is quite similar across the occupation complexity structure, suggesting that indeed basic IT literacy is a valid selection criterion for high skilled workers, just as much as for the low skilled workers.

With respect to intermediate IT skills, the paper finds that these skills – ranging from spreadsheets and word processing to other similar packages – are present for medium to high skill occupations. This suggests that skills such as handling various MS Office software – by far the most commonly demanded skill – is an ‘entry ticket’ to mid- and high-level jobs. This might be relevant from the policy perspective, with respect to the employment of 50+ skilled workers, whose lack of digital skills might be a barrier to them accessing work on their skill level.

Finally, advanced IT skills, such as computer programming, but also social media management or data managements, are not present across the whole set of occupations, but limited only to a small number of jobs. Unlike the basic and intermediate skills, the skills requested and their frequency differ significantly across different types of occupations, precluding generalisation. It is, however, worth noting that even for these specialised skills, approximately every 10th vacancy for low-skilled jobs still contained at least one of these, making them an important marker of future skills demand, even for the lower end of the labour market.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at  Demand for Digital Skills in the US Labour Market: The IT Skills Pyramid | Centre for European Policy Studies


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