Frequently Asked Questions about ISCO

What is the current version of ISCO ? ISCO-08 is the current version of the International Standard Classification of Occupations, it is the fourth iteration and replaces ISCO-88. Read more on the history of ISCO.

Is ISCO free of charge? Yes, ISCO is available online free of charge and can be used without prior authorization.

What is the difference between a job and an occupation?

  • A job is defined in ISCO-08 as “a set of tasks and duties performed, or meant to be performed, by one person, including for an employer or in self employment”.
  • Occupation refers to the kind of work performed in a job. The concept of occupation is defined as a “set of jobs whose main tasks and duties are characterized by a high degree of similarity”.

How often is ISCO revised? Since the year 1968, the practice is to revise ISCO every 20 years. ISCO revision can only be undertaken if it is mandated by the ICLS. ISCO-08 revision is currently undertaken by the ILO with the assistance of a Technical Working Group (TWG).

Who are the main users of occupational statistics? (examples) Classifications of occupations are used in national contexts for the collection and dissemination of statistics from sources such as population censuses, labour force surveys, other household surveys, employer surveys and other sources. They are used by governments and companies in activities such as matching jobseekers with job vacancies, educational planning, reporting of industrial accidents, administration of workers’ compensation, the management of employment-related migration, etc.

User Used in/for
Statistical services Sort/classify jobs and persons into occupations to produce statistics on the occupational distribution of employed persons, wages, working conditions, occupational injuries, etc.
Migration authorities Sort persons to make decisions about work permits or visas
Employment services Sort persons and jobs to match jobs seekers and vacancies
Managers of enterprises/organisations Sort jobs and persons to plan and decide on wage and other personnel policies, and monitor working conditions
Vocational counsellors Use occupational information to guide school leavers and job seekers about types of work, training requirements, career prospects, working conditions, etc. of different types of jobs
Vocational training specialists Use occupational information as basis for planning and designing vocational training programmes
Legislators and public sector administrators Use occupational statistics in support of the formulation and implementation of economic and social policies and to monitor progress with respect to their application, including those covering manpower planning and the planning of education and vocational training
Psychologists Study the relationship between occupations and the personalities and interests of workers
Epidemiologists Use occupations in their study of work related differences in morbidity and mortality
Sociologists Use occupations as an important variable in the study of differences in life styles, behaviour and social positions
Economists Use occupation in the analysis of differences in the distribution of earnings and incomes over time and between groups, as well as in the analysis of imbalances of supply and demand in different labour markets
The general public Use occupational statistics to analyse, describe and learn about what is happening in their countries

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