The Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities Needed for Large and Growing Occupations in Rhode Island
Finding a good job can be a challenge for anyone, and those who have recently graduated and are new to the labor market can have a particularly difficult time. But finding the right job can also be a struggle for the unemployed and for those who are rejoining the workforce, especially if they trained for occupations that are now scarce. While many variables go into a successful job search, the probability of landing a good position might increase if an individual has the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that are needed for decent-paying, large, and growing occupations in the local labor market. In this report, we look at the most important KSAs for over 50 large and growing occupations in Rhode Island that, on average, pay at least twice the minimum wage, or at least $16.00 per hour.1
OCCUPATIONS, OPENINGS, AND GROWTH
The largest occupations in the state, logically, have the most projected openings through 20222. In order to get a better sense of growing occupations, we calculated the variable “Percentage of Openings due to Growth.” This variable reports the percentage of total projected openings per occupation resulting from growth in the occupation rather than the replacement of current workers. For example, when applying this variable, it can be seen that while the greatest number of total openings will be for the occupation Registered Nurse, most of these openings will be to replace nurses who, for one reason or another, leave their positions. In a few cases, particularly in protective services, nearly all openings through 2022 are expected to be due to replacement. In some occupations, however, there is expected to be fairly high growth. Examples here include Market Research Analyst, Software Developer, Computer Systems Analyst, and, perhaps surprisingly, Construction Supervisor and several construction craft occupations.
FIG. 1 JOB OPENINGS AND PROJECTED GROWTH OF LARGE OCCUPATIONS IN RHODE ISLAND TO 2022
FIG. 1 (CONT’D) JOB OPENINGS AND PROJECTED GROWTH OF LARGE OCCUPATIONS IN RHODE ISLAND TO 2022
KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND ABILITIES
Knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) have long been recognized as key components of occupations, and are the essential human capital requirements to do a job. So what KSAs are needed to perform the jobs listed in Figure 1? For each position, we consulted O*NET, an on-line service sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration that provides detailed information about hundreds of occupations in the U.S. economy, including quantitative information about KSAs needed for occupations. For example, on a scale of 0 to 100, O*NET tells us the level of English language knowledge, critical thinking skills, and oral comprehension ability needed to perform a job. Figures 2-5 display the percentage of occupations with a score of at least 50, on a scale of 0-100, on the accompanying KSAs.
Knowledge is the existence in memory of a retrievable set of technical facts, concepts, language, and procedures directly relevant to job performance. Skill is the development or trained capacity to perform tasks. Abilities involve the relatively enduring capacity to acquire skills or knowledge and to carry out tasks at and an acceptable level of performance.
THE KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND ABILITIES NEEDED FOR DECENT-PAYING, LARGE, AND GROWING OCCUPATIONS IN RHODE ISLAND.
FIG. 2 KNOWLEDGE
FIG. 3 SKILLS
FIG. 4 ABILITIES
FIG. 5 PERCENTAGE OF OCCUPATIONS WITH A SCORE OF AT LEAST 50, ON A SCALE OF 0-100, ON THE ACCOMPANYING KSAS
While additional specific occupational competencies are, of course, important for particular jobs, the purpose of this report is to suggest the most important KSAs for a wide range of occupations. These very basic KSA areas do not eliminate the need for specific professional training and development. Nurses, for example, may need to communicate and collaborate, but they also need specific education in their field. The findings of this study are designed to be descriptive rather than prescriptive, and we offer no specific advice to those charged with designing school curricula or job training programs. The evidence in this report suggests that the essential subjects of the humanities and liberal arts, particularly in the areas of English language and reasoning, are critical to the occupations included in this study. Also important, is a certain level of competency in fundamental workplace matters, such as customer service and employee and time management. Lastly, our findings show that it is necessary to develop competencies to deal with the digital world. Together, these KSAs could form a solid foundation for human capital and workforce development.
One area that policy leaders may want to explore further based on the results of this project, is to look at existing job training programs in RI, and examine how they are preparing workers to enter some of the fields mentioned in this analysis, and to what extent these areas (the 4 Cs) are already informing workforce development programs. A further piece could look at how these areas are currently supported and how best to assure that they receive broad support.
In order to determine if the job projections are proving true, further research could be done to establish the accuracy of Occupational Outlook for the state.
- Twice the minimum wage is a measure that has been used by social scientists to set the boundary for what is considered low-wage work—i.e. those earning less than twice the minimum wage are said to be low-wage workers (see, for example, Kapps, Fortuny, and Fix, 2007.) When this work began, the minimum wage in Rhode Island was $8.00 per hour. : Capps, Randy; Fortuny, Karina and Michael Fix. 2007. Trends in the Low-Wage Immigrant Labor Force. Washington, D.C: The Urban Institute. p.2.
- Our definition of large is that there are least 1000 individuals currently holding the job according to the most recent Occupational Employment Statistics for Rhode Island.
- Brannick, Michael T.; Levine, Edward L.; and Frederick Morgeson. 2007. Job and Work Analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing. p. 62.
Are Rhode Island’s educational and workforce development systems aligned with current and emerging job openings in the state?
What investments in education and training would have the greatest impact on short-term unemployment?
Type of Research
- Responds to questions of Policy Leaders with research projects that closely align with state priorities
- Provides implications for challenging state issues