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Skills Transfer Using OASYS

Transferable Skill Analysis

A person has transferable skills when “the skilled, or semi-skilled work activities performed in past work can be used to meet the requirements of skilled, or semi-skilled work activities of other jobs or kinds of work. This depends largely on the similarity of occupationally significant work activities among different jobs. Transferability is most probable and meaningful among jobs in which:

    1. The same or a lesser degree of skill is required;
    2. The same or similar tools and machines are used; and
    3. The same or similar raw materials, products, processes, or services are involved.”

The definition above is identical to the Social Security Administration’s as reported in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (20 CFR 404.1568).  The Transferability of Skills Analysis (TSA) process consists of capturing the work activities (Work Fields) a person has performed in previous jobs, along with the objects upon which the work activities were performed (Materials, Products, Subject Matter, and Services) as reported, defined and described in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), the Handbook for Analyzing Jobs (HAJ) and the Selected Characteristics of Occupations in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (SCO-DOT).

The data extracted from a person’s work history is then used to identify a set of occupations that a worker should be able to perform. In order to process a competent skills transfer analysis, the professional must know their client’s work history. Care must be taken to select the DOT occupations that best represent the jobs the client has performed successfully in past work.  Bear in mind that the CFR citation is taken from the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) regulations. It is useful because it provides a good operational definition of transferability of skills. Some refer to the CFR as the “law of the land.” In the case of TSA, it merely describes how the SSA processes TSA related to claims. The process is commonly used because no other authoritative source that provides an operational definition, usable with data available in the DOT database, appears to exist.  OASYS Job Match TSA makes use of Work Field (WF) codes as proxies for the work activities of jobs in the client’s work history and Materials, Products, Subject Matter, and Services (MPSMS) codes as proxies for the objects upon which the work activities were performed.  WF’s are categories of technologies that reflect how work gets done and what gets done as a result of the work activities - the purpose of the job. Think of Work Fields as “what a worker does on a job.” DOT occupations may contain one, two, or three Work Fields.

MPSMS are the end products upon which the work activities are performed. Think of MPSMS as “the objects on which, or with which the client performs the job.” MPSMS is a derivative of the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC), which identify employers by type of business. DOT occupations may contain one, two, or three MPSMS codes.  Worker Traits required to successfully perform a given job are also utilized in the TSA process. These variables include training time, general educational development, aptitudes, interests, temperaments, physical demands, environmental conditions, and relationships to data, people, and things. By searching for job possibilities which best reflect a person’s work experience, then eliminating those which require function beyond or significantly below the person’s capabilities expressed by Worker Traits, the resulting search output is superior to any other known method for determining transferable skills.  An example of why both Work Fields and MPSMS are important in determining transferability of skills follows:

Compare the “Sawyer, Optical Goods” occupation to the “Gang Sawyer” occupation with respect to their work activities. Both occupations require “sawing” activities. If transferability of skills was based solely on the same machines and tools used on previous jobs, it would be difficult to differentiate between the two occupations shown above.  By taking both activities (WF) and objects (MPSMS) into consideration, a list of jobs could be identified that the person could perform based on work experience.  However, the amount and kind of training required for a Sawyer, Optical Goods and a Gang Sawyer is different. The skill level must also be considered in a transfer of skills analysis. We use Specific Vocational Preparation (SVP) as a proxy for skill level.  It should be noted here that OASYS Job Match uses Worker Traits as secondary skills transfer variables. The Work Fields, MPSMS, SVP, and Combination Work Field variables from the person’s work history provide the first filter through which all DOT jobs are passed. Then, only after the resulting sub-set of DOT occupations is placed in a TSA table, the Worker Traits are used as a second filter.

OASYS has four search types:

Closest Match

Finds jobs that include the same work activities in the same industries as the jobs the seeker has done in the past.

Good Match

Finds jobs that include similar work activities in similar industries as the jobs the seeker has done in the past.

Fair Match

Finds jobs that include similar work activities OR jobs in similar industries as the jobs the seeker has done in the past. May require on the job training.

Potential Match

Finds jobs that the seeker has the potential to perform based on education, abilities and interests. May require a career change.

The first two searches are skills transfer searches, the others are used for career exploration. Search types in OASYS are based on the interaction of the Work Fields, SVP and MPSMS codes from a job seeker’s employment history as recorded on the Work History tab. The searches use combinations of same and/or similar Work Field and MPSMS codes.  Each combination of Work Field, MPSMS and SVP codes from the person’s work history is used to search the entire database for matching jobs. The additional work component variables from the ability profile are used to further define the search criteria. Thus, each job that is reported by the system is one that you can expect the person to perform with varying degrees of skills transferability. OASYS arranges the resulting job list according to the degree of transferability from highest to lowest.

The alignment of the SVP with Work Field and MPSMS codes ensures that you will never find a job at a higher SVP level than the person’s demonstrated skills in all combinations of Work Field and MPSMS when performing the first three types of searches.

How OASYS Performs TSA

Assume there are two jobs in a person’s work history, with only one set of Work Fields (WF) and Materials, Products, Subject matter, and Services (MPSMS) codes for each job. When entering those codes into a table: the first table entry is WF #1, MPSMS #1, and SVP (Specific Vocational Preparation) #1; the second table entry is WF #2, MPSMS #2 and SVP #2; the third table entry is WF #1, MPSMS #2 and SVP #1 or #2-whichever is lower; and the fourth table entry is WF #2, MPSMS #1 and SVP #1 or #2-whichever is lower. Thus, the Work History and the Transfer Table would look like this:

Job # 1 DOT Code 952.137-022 021 871 7
Job # 2 DOT Code 736.361-022 111 587 4
ENTRY 1 021 871 7
ENTRY 2 111 587 4
ENTRY 3 021 587 4
ENTRY 4 111 871 4

In the table shown above at Entry 3 & 4, notice that the WF from Job #1 is paired with the MPSMS in Job #2 and that the WF from Job #1 is paired with the MPSMS in Job #2. OASYS pairs these variables at the lower of the two SVP’s for one very particular reason:  after acquiring (through work experience) the behaviors, knowledge, and techniques associated with each WF and MPSMS factor, to ignore each combination in TSA would decrease the full representation of a worker’s skills. For that reason, OASYS includes these combinations at the lower SVP associated with either the WF or the MPSMS.

The description above has been over-simplified for easier explanation. In actuality, the skills transfer process is quite complex. The degree of difficulty is compounded by jobs which have multiple Work Fields and MPSMS (up to 3, respectively), the number of jobs in a person’s work history and job histories which include Combination Work Field codes. When using real life data, the permutations and combinations of codes to be managed escalate rapidly.

Alternate TSA Method

Perform a skills transfer search based on Discrete Pairs.  The discrete pair method assumes that Work Fields from one occupation in a person’s work history cannot be paired with the MPSMS of a second occupation in the same work history. Enabling the discrete pair method has the effect of disabling the bottom two rows shown in the Transfer Table above. In short, discrete pair searches use the Work Fields and MPSMS codes associated with each occupation in the work history, but does not commingle them as shown in the Transfer Table above.

OASYS TSA Search Levels


Closest Same Same 1
Good Similar Same 2
Good Same Similar 3
Good Similar Similar 4
Fair Same Not Used 5
Fair Similar Not Used 6
Fair Not Used Same 7
Fair Not Used Similar 8
Potential Not Used Not Used 9


OASYS TSA Search Levels Overlay View

                                                                            Material, Products, Subject Matter, & Services







































Compare SkillTRAN Online TSA labels with OASYS Search Levels

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