Skills, knowledge, abilities and interests


Data source: O*NET

Provision: Data are mapped to UK SOC2010 4-digit

Update: annual

Questions you can ask of the data:

  • What skills do I need for this occupation?
  • What interests are associated with a particular occupation?

Example of visualised data:

Example of data visualised on icould website

Source: icould

Description of the dataset and provenance

The US have been collecting and developing information on the skills, abilities and interests associated with different jobs for many years. This is all collected together on the US O*NET database. The US data are organised around the detailed US Standard Occupational Classification.

By developing a link between this and UK SOC categories, the very rich US information can be exploited. This all assumes that what is relevant for an occupation in the US also applies to the nearest equivalent occupation in the UK. The LMI for All version of the dataset include four main indicators:

  1. Abilities – These data are ability scores for O*NET SOC codes (occupations). The information shows the level of abilities required and the importance of these abilities for the occupation concerned.
  2. Skills – These data are skills scores for O*NET SOC codes (occupations). The information shows both the levels of skill required and the importance of these skills for the occupation concerned.
  3. Interests – These data show the Interest data associated with each O*NET-SOC occupation.
  4. Knowledge – These data show sets of principles and facts applying in general domains associated with each O*NET-SOC occupation.

Defining the indicators: Abilities

Enduring attributes of the individual that influence performance, more details are here.

  • Cognitive Abilities (21 elements) — Abilities that influence the acquisition and application of knowledge in problem solving
  • Physical Abilities (9 elements) — Abilities that influence strength, endurance, flexibility, balance and coordination
  • Psychomotor Abilities (10 elements) — Abilities that influence the capacity to manipulate and control objects
  • Sensory Abilities (12 elements) — Abilities that influence visual, auditory and speech perception

Defining the indicators: Skills

More details on Skills are here.

Basic Skills – Developed capacities that facilitate learning or the more rapid acquisition of knowledge

  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organisations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Complex Problem Solving Skills – Developed capacities used to solve novel, ill-defined problems in complex, real-world settings

  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Resource Management Skills – Developed capacities used to allocate resources efficiently

  • Management of Financial Resources — Determining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
  • Management of Material Resources — Obtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.
  • Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
  • Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.

Social Skills – Developed capacities used to work with people to achieve goals.

  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
  • Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
  • Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Systems Skills – Developed capacities used to understand, monitor, and improve sociotechnical systems.

  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.

Technical Skills – Developed capacities used to design, set-up, operate, and correct malfunctions involving application of machines or technological systems.

  • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
  • Equipment Selection — Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
  • Installation — Installing equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.
  • Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Programming — Writing computer programs for various purposes.
  • Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Repairing — Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
  • Technology Design — Generating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
  • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.

Defining the indicators: Interests

These relate to preferences for work environments and outcomes, more details are here.

  • Realistic – Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Investigative – Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Artistic – Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
  • Social – Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Enterprising – Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Conventional – Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Defining the indicators: Knowledge

Organised sets of principles and facts applying in general domains, more detail here:

  • Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Building and Construction — Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
  • Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Clerical — Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Communications and Media — Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Economics and Accounting — Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
  • Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Fine Arts — Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
  • Food Production — Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.
  • Foreign Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of a foreign (non-English) language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition and grammar, and pronunciation.
  • Geography — Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
  • History and Archaeology — Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.
  • Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Personnel and Human Resources — Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
  • Philosophy and Theology — Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
  • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  • Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
  • Sociology and Anthropology — Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Telecommunications — Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
  • Therapy and Counseling — Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Transportation — Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.

Details of the owner / curator

O*NET is owned and managed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Known quality issues with data

The O*NET data are US focussed. However, they have been widely used in many other countries. To the extent that occupations are similar in the UK and the US they will provide useful and relevant information. Note this is not necessarily a unique mapping – a 4 digit SOC code may link to more than one O*NET occupation. For this reason it is not possible to generate results for more aggregate SOC categories (e.g. 3 or 2 digit).

Quality control processes

The O*NET data are subject to continuous review and validation. The link between the US and UK occupational systems has been developed using CASCOT a well-established tool used by ONS and various other agencies to classify occupations in the UK.

Accuracy of data

The key issue with the O*Net data is the relevance of the information to a UK context. It is thought that for most occupations the Skill, Abilities and interests information is relevant.

Frequency of update

Does the data underlying the API change over time?

The O*NET data are regularly updated by the BLS every 2-3 years.

Will the data go out of date?

The kinds of information in the database are not expected to change rapidly.

Does the data you capture change on at least a daily basis?

No – see above.

What type of dataset series is this?

Qualitative information on the nature of different types of jobs based on detailed analysis conducted in the US.

Is a feed of changes made available?

No see above.

How frequently do you create a new release?

When O*NET is updated (every 2-3 years, see above).

What is the delay between creating a dataset and publishing it?

Once the O*NET database has been updated it will be uploaded ed to the LMI or All database.

Do you also provide dumps of the dataset?

The BLS provides dumps of the data.

Will the data be corrected if they contain errors?


Disclosure and confidentiality

Not applicable.

More information

More details on the dataset can be found in LMI for All – Developing a Careers LMI Database report. This report reviews LMI for All up until the end of Phase 2a (Oct 12- March 13) which culminated in the launch of the first release, and makes recommendations for the next stage of development.