Abstract: While substantial scholarship has focused on estimating the susceptibility of
jobs to automation, little has examined how job contents evolve in the
information age despite the fact that new technologies typically substitute for
specific job tasks, shifting job skills rather than eliminating whole jobs.
Here we explore the process and consequences of changes in occupational skill
contents and characterize occupations subject to the most re-skilling pressure.
Recent research suggests that high-skilled STEM and technology-intensive
business occupations have experienced the highest rates of skill content
change. Using a dataset covering the near universe of U.S. online job postings
between 2010 and 2018, we find that when the number and similarity of skills
within a job are taken into account, the re-skilling pressure is much higher
for workers in low complexity, low education and low compensation occupations.
We use high-dimensional embeddings of skills estimated across all jobs to
precisely assess skill similarity, and characterize occupational skill
transformations, demonstrating that skills requiring machine-operation and
interface rise sharply in importance in the past decade, much more than human
interface skills in low and mid-education occupations. We establish that large
organizations buffer jobs from skill instability and obsolescence, especially
low-skilled jobs with unstable skill requirements. Finally, the gap in
re-skilling pressure between low/mid-education and high-education occupations
is smaller in large organizations, suggesting that by controlling the
surrounding skill environment, such organizations reduce the rate of required
re-skilling and sustain short-term productivity for those occupations.