17 Mar 2016

Skills Requirements for the 30 Most-Frequently Advertised Occupations in the United States: An analysis based on online vacancy data

Miroslav Beblavy / Brian Fabo / Karolien Lenaerts

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Using a sample of approximately 2 million job advertisements published online, this paper assesses which educational, skills and other requirements US employers demand the most. The analysis is focused on the 30 most-frequently advertised occupations in the United States, of different levels of complexity, and finds that employers are quite demanding in their job advertisements, even when these concern low- or medium-skilled occupations. Although vacancies for more complex occupations are generally more demanding than those for less complex ones, there is a lot of variation across the 30 occupations. Formal education is the most important criterion for employers in the United States; it is required in 67% of the vacancies examined. Specialised training and licenses, in contrast, appear to be less important. Of the cognitive and non-cognitive skills, service skills in particular are high in demand (called for in 49% of the vacancies). Other non-cognitive skills, both of a social and personal nature, are frequently included as well. Experience is the third key criterion that employers use to screen job applicants, appearing in 38% of the vacancies.

This paper was written within the framework of the InGRID (Inclusive Growth Research Infrastructure Diffusion) project, which is funded by the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme for Research, and involves 17 European partners, including CEPS. The project aims to integrate and innovate existing, but distributed European social sciences research infrastructures on ‘Poverty and Living Conditions’ and ‘Working Conditions and Vulnerability’ by providing transnational data access, organising mutual knowledge exchange activities and improving methods and tools for comparative research.

Miroslav Beblavý is Associate Senior Research Fellow at CEPS and Brian Fabo and Karolien Lenaerts are Researchers at CEPS.