Chapter 14: The meaning of job-required education
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The relationship between education and job skill requirements is central to labor market research. However, theories of skill-biased technological change (SBTC) are skeptical of direct measures of job required education, preferring either indirect measures (e.g., wages, workers’ education) or decomposed, task-based measures. Studies of over-education commonly use direct measures of required education, but rarely investigate its underlying meaning. This chapter examines the meaning of job required education in terms of numeracy, literacy, problem solving, and computer tasks using detailed item batteries from the survey of Skills, Technology, and Management Practices (STAMP). Job task measures correlate more strongly with job required education than with workers’ education and explain 45-50% of the variance in required education. There is a remarkably consistent pattern between required education and complexity of math, reading, writing, problem-solving, and computer use on the job. Required education has clear and sensible meanings in terms of key job tasks.

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