Occupational Analysis Defined
While it is true that an occupational analysis is a necessary resource for developing curriculum materials, its contribution to the process is most often misinterpreted and it's use misunderstood. Perhaps the best place to start in attempting to clarify this confusion is by defining the word descriptors assigned to this resource.
Webster's unabridged dictionary defines the term analysis as "a separating or breaking up of any whole into its parts so as to find out their nature." Webster has also stated that the term means "separation of anything, whether an object of the sense or of the intellect, into constituent parts of elements." Some of the more common synonyms for the word analysis are separation, resolution, dissection, reduction.
Analysis is a common procedure used in scientific investigation as well as other forms of study or inquiry. The following are examples of this from a wide range of fields/activities.
The Chemist analyzes substances or compounds to determine the amount and/or nature of the content of such compounds. The chemist is able to ascertain through scientific procedures, for example, what is contained in a sample of water that might be withdrawn from a drilled well. In addition they can determine the percentages of each of the elements or substances that are included in the water. The chemist makes a chemical analysis.
The farmer analyzes farm soil to determine the need for lime, phosphates or other beneficial compounds needed for the successful growing of food products. Like the chemist, the farmer is separating the soil into its component parts so as to study the amount and nature of these elements. The farmer makes a soil analysis.
The TV/radio repair person analyzes the component elements of a TV/radio set in order to determine the nature of the trouble that might exist within the unit. As a result, the repair person is able to repair or replace the defective part so that a set can be placed again in your home for continued to enjoyment. Before the service person can repair or replace an element within a TV/radio set, a unit analysis must be made.
A military leader analyzes a given situation to determine the proper course of action that troops must take. If it is a training problem, the commander gets complete information of the situation by analyzing the reports of support staff and lower commanders, by personal observation, test and inspection, and by other means. The commander must analyze
1. The existing state of training;
2. the time available for training;
3. the facilities available for training;
4. the local climate and terrain; and
5. obstacles to training.
The military leader makes an estimate of the training situation or a military analysis.
The weather specialist analyzes atmospheric conditions to determine possible future weather conditions. This is done on a very scientific and analytical basis in order to provide a valuable service to farmers, ship navigators, airline pilots, the general public, and many other types of individuals whose work depends on weather conditions, either present or future. The weather specialist makes a weather analysis.
The guidance counselor. through skillful observation and discussion, helps individuals to analyze their own strengths and weaknesses for the purpose of assisting them in making choices or coming to given decisions. The counselor makes a personal analysis of human beings.
The analysis procedure then, is of importance to a variety of fields of study for the purpose of supplying information to specialists who subsequently need to make decisions about the "nature" of their work. While the analysis technique utilized in each example represents a constant, the scope and content of the analysis is qualified by a descriptive word unique to each field of study. The scope and content of a chemical analysis is different, for example, from the scope and content of a military analysis.
The analysis procedure in technical education may be qualified by any of the previous terms. Example, Webster's defines job analysis as, "the study of a specific job, as in industry, with respect to operations and hazards involved, qualifications required of the workers, etc." Job analysis however, tends to be too specific in terms of an overall description of what takes place in technical education. The word occupation qualifies the analysis technique to performances involved with earning a living without restricting the process to sub-classifications.
Occupational Analysis Defind
Once performance, whether it in a profession, calling,trade, caft, office, or business is usually measured in terms of specific behaviors, particularly in terms of knowledge gained, attitudes developed, and skills performed. It is also expected that these behaviors will be demonstrated at some level of acceptable performance. It follows that an occupational analysis be defined as a document that lists all the knowledge that one needs to possess, all of the attitudes that one needs to develop, and all of the skills that one needs to perform in order to function as a technician, paraprofessional in the occupation being analyzed.
A number of observations need to be made about this definition. First, the reader's attention is drawn to the use of the word all with respect to the scope of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes being addressed. Secondly, the reader's attention is drawn to the use of the word technician paraprofessional which established the level of performance required by the definition. Technician as defined by Webster is used here to mean "a worker who is skilled in a technical area, or a paraprofessional is one who assists the professional."
Lastly, occupational analysis technique produces a list of behaviors which is formulated into a document known as an occupational analysis associated with a specific occupational title. For example,An Occupational Analysis in Firefighting.
Uses for an occupational analysis
The use for occupational analysis are many and far-reaching. Although technical education teachers look to such analysis as devices to assist them in the selection of behaviors to be taught, occupational analysis and their by-products are also systematic methods indispensable for thoroughness and accuracy in personnel, industrial relations, labor utilization, and related activities. Important among these uses are:
1. Recruitment and placement - determining job requirements and specific qualities required of workers to fill jobs so as to provide recruitment and placement officers in industrial personnel offices and public employment offices with guiding data to bring the right worker to the right job.
2. Vocational counseling - furnishing The vocational counselor with an accurate picture of the work requirements of various trades. If occupational adjustment is to continue to be a significant factor in the solution of worker problems, counselors must be provided with accurate and adequate information about trades on which to base advice given to workers, especially young, physically handicapped, and the inexperienced.
3. Job and employee evaluation - furnishing private industry with occupational data required for developing an objective method for evaluating employee performance on the job.
4. Training - providing training programs with detailed information regarding involved jobs and operations. The content to the training programs, time required for training, and selecting participants are dependent upon a thorough analysis of an occupation.
5. Better utilization of workers - supplying complete information on the nature of all the jobs in a plant to provide the basis for establishing efficient organization plans. Also provides the basis for job re-engineering by giving clear and concise pictures of individual jobs and pointing out the reallocation of tasks for more efficient production.
6. Safety, health, and medical research - locating potential sources of occupational hazards so that safety procedures can be developed for eliminating the hazards. Also furnishes medical departments with information required to decide whether or not a disabled employee or a person possessing physical limitations can perform the duties of a job.
7. Labor relations - providing a clear statement of duties and responsibilities of all jobs in an organization. Such statements are the factual basis upon which workers and management can achieve a common understanding.
The teacher can use such an occupational analysis to:
1. Provide a foundation for a planned program.
2. Provide a logical basis for preparing instructional materials.
3. Provide a basis for determining the type and quantity of physical facilities required to teach the necessary subject matter.
4. Provide information for use in preparing lesson presentations such as shop talks, lectures, demonstrations, and discussions.
5. Provide a sound basis for determining the nature of the vehicles of instruction to be assigned to students.
Sources of information for analyzing an occupation
The technical education teacher may turn to several sources of information for making a complete analysis of an occupation. Chief among these are:
1. A personal background of work experience in the occupation.
2. Observation of others who are working in the occupation.
3. Consultation with workers who have had considerable work experience in the occupation.
4. A study of other occupational analysis.
5. A study of textbooks - these represent excellence sources of information.
6. A study of occupational journals and.periodical - these are good sources of information regarding technological change in the occupation.
7. A study of manufacturers manuals and handbooks.
When it is necessary to obtain analysis data directly from industry, it is well to follow a set routine.
The following summarizes the procedure for obtaining good job analysis data and maintaining desired relationships:
1. The proper official should be contacted for permission to make the study and their assistance requested in planning the program of study, where to start, personnel to work with in each department, procedure to follow when analyzing an occupation.
2. This contact person should notify department heads and supervisors of the purpose of the study.
3. The names of all the analysts should be submitted and, passes obtained.
4. Supervisors should be consulted regarding the best job stations at which to observe typical tasks at which there are workers who will not be disturbed by being observed. Supervisors should explain to the workers the purpose of the observation.
5.Prior to observing the job, the analyst should obtain an overall picture of the operations and determine each jobs relationship to the entire process.
6. The analysis should also:
a. Note and differentiate between what the worker does and what the machine does.
b. When possible, obsereserve the tasks of the worker from the time a unit of work has been begun until it has been completed; i.e., a work cycle.
c. Talk to the worker only with the permission of the foreman and then as little as possible in order not to cause disturbances.
d. Unobtrusively take a minimum of notes while observing the job and expand them as soon afterwards as possible; repeat the observation if necessary.
e. Observe the job before obtaining from the hiring official the qualifications, information on job relationships, and other information which cannot be obtained by observations.
f. Check job data, especially technical or trade terminology, with the foreman or department head.
g. Verify the completed analysis with the proper official.