© Copyright 2006 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Vol. 42 No. 12

Examples of Associated Indirect Occupational Overlap

by: Mark A. Harris, Ph.D., Sociologist

Occupational growth within industries may also be affected by associated or indirect overlap among critical occupations. This overlap occurs in occupations that are technically separate, but have substantial overlapping skills sets such that job changing is likely under the right market conditions. Thus, growth in one occupation not only creates a demand for individuals already in that occupation (i.e., from interstate labor sources) but may also create labor shortages in other related occupations within the state as sufficient pay, geographic location of jobs, and training opportunities converge to make an upgrade probable.

To illustrate this point, Table 1 shows related occupations for rotary drill operators, oil & gas (Standard Occupational Classification Code [SOC] 47-5012). According to a recent press release, drillers in the state want to train 5,000 workers in drilling rig operations (Bleizeffer, 2005). Related occupations for rotary drill operators, oil & gas include three other construction and extraction occupations (paving, surfacing, & tamping equipment operators; operating engineers & other construction equipment operators; and derrick operators, oil & gas).

Among the four related occupations shown in Table 1, rotary drill operators, oil & gas has the highest average hourly wage. Wage driven job changing toward rotary drill operators, oil & gas from the other related occupations is likely and may cause labor shortages among other industries employing these occupations (e.g., specialty trade contractors; heavy & civil engineering construction; construction of buildings; and mining [except oil & gas]). Construction and extraction occupations are likely areas of potential competition and bottleneck within the state over the next decade. The Figure illustrates graphically the concepts of wage driven direct occupational movement between industries (see Panel A) and related movement both inter- and intra-industry (see Panel B).

Recent growth in oil and gas development in the state is also a likely driver for growth within professional and technical services among occupations that support oil and gas development. Civil engineers (SOC 17-2051), surveyors (SOC 17-1022), chemical technicians (SOC 19-4031), civil engineering technicians (SOC 17-3022), and surveying & mapping technicians (SOC 17-3031) are likely candidates.

Wyoming’s current labor supply system may mitigate some of the critical occupational shortages that can occur as a result of direct and associated occupational overlap among industries.

Of jobs held by May 2002 Wyoming community college graduates (588 jobs total), 14.2% (84 jobs) were in construction & extraction; installation, maintenance & repair; production; and transportation & material moving (see Table 2).

Although it is unlikely that current output from Wyoming’s community colleges is sufficient to supply projected demand, steps could be taken to increase the number of Wyoming graduates with technical skills.

Surveys of employers who hired graduates reveal that they were highly satisfied with the work habits and skills of Wyoming’s community college graduates (Saulcy, 2004) involved in technical training programs (e.g., 7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10 for graduates from construction trades instructional programs and 8.2 on a scale of 1 to 10 for graduates from transportation and materials moving programs). Wyoming’s community college system may be underutilized as a supplier of qualified workers.

Wyoming will likely experience labor supply shortages in occupations critical to oil and gas development over the next decade. Shortages may be manifest, however, in related occupations as individuals make job upgrades driven by wage competition. Substantial instability in oil and gas prices will alter this scenario and are difficult to predict.


Bleizeffer, D. (2004). Drillers want to train 5,000 workers. Casper Star-Tribune. January 22, 2005 (A1, A12).

Saulcy, S. (2004, August). Where are they now? Wyoming community college graduates’ labor market outcomes 2004 (pp. 46, 56). Casper, WY: Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning.

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