Occupational Skills


Occupation is an important categorization of employment. Individuals who have certain skills and knowledge and who conduct similar tasks in their employment are characterized as employed in a particular occupation. Thus acquiring the requisite skills and knowledge and having them certified may be required to gain employment in many occupations. Licensing and formal apprenticeships are ways that workers may demonstrate their occupational skills.


  • What is the role of the educational system and workforce development system in developing skills?
  • How should skills be certified?
  • How effective is the apprenticeship system for developing skills?
  • Is licensing an efficient way of certifying skills and knowledge, or is it a way to reduce competition in an occupation?

Selected Institute Research

Licensing Occupations: Ensuring Quality or Restricting Competition?
Morris Kleiner, University of Minnesota
Upjohn Institute Press, 2006

State Use of Workforce System Net Impact Estimates and Rates of Return
Kevin Hollenbeck, Upjohn Institute
Paper presented at Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) annual meetings, November 2008
(Note: includes rates of return estimates for apprenticeships)

More Institute Research about Occupational Skills

Useful Links

Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. DOL Employment and Training Administration
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)