Discussion Paper

No. 2018-83 | December 11, 2018
A method for measuring detailed demand for workers’ competences


There is an increasing need for analysing demand for skills at labour markets. While most studies aggregate skills in groups or use available proxies for them, the authors analyse companies’ demand for individual competences. Such an analysis better reflects reality, because companies usually require from future workers particular competences rather than generally defined groups of skills. However, no method exists to analyse on a large scale which competences are required by employers. At a detailed level, there are hundreds of competences, so this demand cannot be measured in a sample survey. The authors propose a method for a continuous and efficient analysis of demand for new workers’ competences. The method is based on gathering internet job offers and analysing them with data mining and text analysis tools. They applied it to analyse transversal competences on a Polish labour market during November 2012–December 2015. The authors used the detailed European Commission classification of transversal competences. They found that within the general groups of competences, companies required only certain ones, especially ‘language and communication competences’ and neglected others. The companies’ requirements were countercyclical, that is, they increased them during recession and decreased them during economic expansion. However, the structure of the demanded competences did not change during the analysed period, suggesting that the structure is relatively stable, at least over the business cycle. The method can be used continuously. Various institutions can analyse and publish up-to-date information on the current demand for competences as well as tendencies in this demand.

Data Set

JEL Classification:

I20, J63


  • Downloads: 718


Cite As

Robert Pater, Jaroslaw Szkola, and Marcin Kozak (2018). A method for measuring detailed demand for workers’ competences. Economics Discussion Papers, No 2018-83, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/discussionpapers/2018-83

Comments and Questions

Anonymous - Referee Report 1
December 12, 2018 - 07:58

I consider that this is a valuable paper.
It involves a lot of technical and research assistants´ work. It is very difficult to deal with raw data from internet sites.
The methodology of the overall analysis is well organized.
The database generated is large.
There has been a ...[more]

... lot of thinking and effort organizing the information.
The field of analyzing vacancies/job demands needs a lot of additional research, so papers in this area are very welcome.
The detailed European Commission classification of transversal competences used is very rich.
The results of the analysis, which are plausible, are presented/displayed in a clear way.
It is interesting the analysis of upskilling/downskilling, as well as the analysis of other dynamical patterns in this field (as the based on the correlation coefficients for monthly occurrences of classes of competences). It is also interesting the analysis of the competences that tend to appear jointly in the job demands.
It is a versatile methodology, so the rich database generated could be studied from several alternative perspectives.
It is interesting the comparison (in the line of Figure 2) of this type of data with data from other sources (public employment offices, surveys, etc.).
The extension pointed out towards the analysis of job-specific competences is promising (and complementary of the current approach).
As it is indicated in the paper, some transversal competences may not be easily taught and may not be transferable between activities. In this sense, it would be necessary to relate more clearly this line of research to the specific design of ALMPs. For instance, competences on: attend to detail, negotiating, show good manners, and many others. How ALMPs can attend them?
The English style should be revised.
To sum up, this paper offers new added value to its field of study and can be useful for the Polish labor market analysis.

Robert Pater - response to anonymous reviewer's comments
December 15, 2018 - 12:54

Thank you for such a good reception of our paper. In attachment please find our responses to the critical comments.

Anonymous - Very good and promising paper
January 02, 2019 - 23:08

It is a very interesting and promising paper. It may seem a little bit over-technical, but such rich dataset requires a lot of data management. And this part of the work is very clearly described what is undoubtedly an advantage.

I found qualitative analysis very interesting, especially upskilling/downskilling ...[more]

... analysis and relation analysis.

Some questions and remarks arise though:
1) is it possible that during expansions more precise job offers would attract potential job seekers from the employment pool? expansionary phase induces more job-to-job moves, then employed people usually look for better job (than they currently have)
2) I think that paper needs some reorganization, it seems a lit bit chaotic in particular parts. For example in the introduction there is a paragraph on what is being done, then some literature review (although there was some earlier) and next wha is being done again.
3) The last paragraph on p. 4 refers to skills, and it is probably the only one there that refers to skills, why?
4) Description of the tendencies on competencies becomes a little bit tiring at one moment (there are a lot of them) - maybe some clustering, grouping, taxonomy methods could help here - just for the simplicity of the description?
5) Figure 5 is great, but hardly readable.
6) I really like reading the main finding at the end of the introduction paragraph.
7) Language proof reading could be helpful in improving the paper.

All in all, good and promising paper!

Robert Pater - response to anonymous reviewer's comments
January 22, 2019 - 12:29

We are grateful for positive evaluation of our paper. In attachment please find answers for questions and remarks.

Robert Pater - Revised paper
January 23, 2019 - 15:00

In attachment please find a revised manuscript.

Robert Pater - Final manuscript
March 05, 2019 - 09:24

Final manuscript with additional minor clarification.