Occupations as Systems of Technology Skills: The Role of Modularity and Connectedness

This study conceptualizes occupations as systems of technology skills embedded in the labor ecosystem and examines the impacts of 1) the modularity of technology skills within the occupation, and 2) the occupation’s degree of technology skill connectedness across occupations on job mobility for workers in that occupation. OLS regressions with fixed effects reveal a significant positive effect of within-occupation technology skill modularity and cross-occupation technology skill connectedness on job mobility. While many studies have shown the importance of technology skills for the future of work, previous research focused on the role of individual skills rather than their structure within and across different professions. Our results therefore increase our understanding of the role of technology skills in occupations and offer practical implications for job seekers, employers, and educators. Specifically, they suggest that workers in modular occupations and those with greater connectedness to the broader labor network might hold a competitive edge in labor markets by having a greater chance to change occupations and industries. Our research also highlights the importance for policymakers to view skills as interrelated bundles rather than isolated entities. This perspective emphasizes the need to incorporate coherent modules into educational curricula, facilitating the teaching and acquisition of these interconnected skills.