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    National differences in educational requirements

    However broad the skill level of an international occupational classification may be, the presumed skill level of a particular occupation, or a group of occupations, may not correspond exactly to that determined by the educational requirements of some countries. On the basis of the information received in the course of work on ISCO-88, as well as on the basis of the discussions held by the Fourteenth International Conference of Labour Statisticians, it became apparent that differences in formal educational requirements were most prominent in the cases of some of the teaching, health and social services occupations. In some countries it is necessary/ to have a university degree in order to be able to practise these occupations, while in other countries lower-level educational certificates are considered sufficient. In order to accommodate these differences, parallel occupational groups were created in ISCO-88 Major groups 2 and 3, - Professionals and Technicians and associate professionals, respectively. The codes and titles of these groups are as follows:

    Major group 2, Professionals

    2230 Nursing and midwifery professionals 2331 Primary education teaching professionals 2332 Pre-primary education teaching professionals 2340 Special education teaching professionals 2446 Social work professionals

    Major group 3, Technicians and associate professionals

    3231 Nursing associate professionals 3232 Midwifery associate professionals 3310 Primary education teaching associate professionals 3320 Pre-primary education teaching associate professionals 3330 Special education teaching associate professionals 3460 Social work associate professionals

    This means that, in accordance with educational requirements, when grouping national occupational data according to the ISCO-88 structure, countries will be able to classify nursing, midwifery, teaching and social services occupations either into Major group 2, Professionals, or into Major group 3, Technicians and associate professionals, as appropriate.

    Occupations with a broad range of tasks and duties

    Differences in the range of tasks and duties belonging to the same occupation are, at national level, mostly determined by the size of the establishment. For instance, in a small establishment typing and filing may be combined with the duties of a receptionist into one single job, while in a bigger enterprise they may constitute two or three separate jobs. At international level, although it is acknowledged that factors such as tradition or collective agreements may play an important part, the existence of these differences is mostly linked to the level of economic development, with its simple patterns of labour division.

    Occupational classifications - national as well as international - define occupations, and occupational groups, by reference to the most common combinations of tasks and duties, and therefore face a problem when, in the case of some occupations, the range of tasks and duties does not correspond to those specified in the classification.

    In such cases ISCO-88 suggests application of the following rules:

    (a) In cases where the tasks and duties performed require skills usually obtained through different levels of training and experience, jobs should be classified in accordance with those tasks and duties which require the highest level of skills. For instance a job which consists of driving a van and delivering goods should be classified in Unit group 8322, Car taxi and van drivers.

    (b) In cases where the tasks and duties are connected with different stages of the production and distribution of goods process, tasks and duties related to the production stage should take priority over associated ones, such as those related to the sales and marketing of the same goods, their transportation or the management of the production process - unless one of these tasks and duties predominates. For example, a baker who bakes bread, makes pastries and sells these products should not be classified as a sales person, but as a baker, which means, in ISCO-88 terms, Unit group 7412, Bakers, pastry-cooks and confectionery makers.

    Technology and skills

    Developments in technology, particularly those which led to mass-production methods, have had a profound effect on the skills that are needed according to whether a product is made by a craft worker or manufactured through the application of one of the latest techniques. For instance, skills required to perform the tasks of a smith or a tailor are different from those required to perform the tasks of a machine-operator in an enterprise engaged in metalworking or in the mass-production of textile garments.

    Broadly speaking, a smith or a tailor has to know the materials, tools, sequence of tasks performed, and the characteristics and intended use of the final product. A machine operator, on the other hand, has to know how to use very sophisticated machinery and equipment, how to recognise and signal, or eliminate, problems before they start to affect output in a serious way, or how to react if something goes wrong with the machine itself. In addition, a machine-operator should have a level of skill and breadth of training which would allow retraining costs to be minimal when product specifications change or when new technology is introduced.

    In ISCO-88 the delineation between Major groups 7 and 8 reflects these differences in the type of skills required. Major group 7, Craft and related trades workers, classifies craft-oriented and artisanal occupations - such as mason, carpenter, mechanic, baker, potter, decorative painter, wood-carver - while Major group 8, Plant and machine operators and assemblers, classifies machine-oriented occupations.

    Coexistence of two agricultural sectors

    Inequalities in the economic development of different countries, or regions within the same country, have resulted in the coexistence of two agricultural sectors, of which one is characterised by low-skilled subsistence farming while the other often has a highly automated production process and, as a result, achieves high productivity with relatively few workers. These differences are reflected in ISCO-88 through a distinction made in Major group 6, Skilled agricultural and fishery workers, between, on the one hand, skilled market-oriented farmers and agricultural workers, and, on the other, those who are engaged in subsistence farming. The aim of this distinction is to reflect important skill differences existing in the two sectors, as well as to improve the quality of the data needed to undertake analyses and make decisions concerning rural development.

    Occupations and women

    In most countries the number and proportion of women in the labour force has increased over the past two decades, and it is highly probable that this trend will continue. However, this positive numerical increase has not been accompanied by an equal distribution of various jobs between men and women, nor by equal earnings. Women workers tend to cluster in lower skilled jobs, and their wages in most sectors lag behind those of men performing the, same tasks and duties.

    Occupation is one of the main variables which denotes the situation of women in the labour force. It is therefore important that occupational categories of a given occupational classification be delineated in a way which will not obscure but promote detail and clarity of information on sex composition of jobs. In ISCO-88 attention is paid to this issue, especially in the case of groups where occupations characterised by the predominance of women workers are classified, such as Major group 4, Clerks, Major group 5, Service workers and shop and market sales workers, and Major group 9, Elementary occupations.

    Occupations in the informal sector

    The need to identify occupations in the informal sector was taken into consideration in the structure of ISCO-88, especially in the delineation of the unit groups. The following unit groups may be particularly useful for classifying informal sector occupations: Unit groups 7331 and 7332 entitled Handicraft workers In wood and related materials, and Handicraft workers In textile, leather and related materials, respectively, as well as Unit groups 9111, Street food vendors, 9112, Street vendors, non-food products, and 9120, Shoe cleaning and other street services elementary occupations.

    Occupations and status in employment

    ISCO-88, unlike its predecessor, does not take into consideration whether a worker is a working proprietor or not, as this and similar attributes of the labour force, such as being an employer or an employee etc., reflect status in employment and not the tasks and duties of the worker, and therefore should be dealt with in a separate Status in employment classification.

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 Updated 15 September 2004, by VA.