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Randolph's occupational analysts influence Air Force decision makers

  • Published
  • By Robert Goetz
  • 502nd Air Base Wing OL-B Public Affairs
The Air Force's flying community logs thousands upon thousands of miles-per year fulfilling their mission, but 37 civilians based at Randolph AFB are also racking up the miles in their quest to assist the service's brain trust.

Air Force Occupational Analysis program personnel, assigned to Air Education and Training Command, spend countless hours on the road, and also in their cubicles in Hangar 13, finding out what Airmen and civilians throughout the Air Force do on the job and analyzing their data to aid the decision makers in the Air Force's training and personnel communities.

"We're occupational analysts," said Jose Caussade, Operations, Standards and Research Branch chief. "We find out what the Air Force career fields are doing -- the tasks they are doing -- so the Air Force can make sure people are training based on what they do in the field."

The OA program acts in a consulting role, but it has a broad sphere of influence, from the chief master sergeant of the Air Force, to Air Force career field managers, to major command functional managers, and personnel, research, promotions and technical training.

"We optimize decisions," Mr. Caussade said. "We don't tell career fields what to do, but we give them the data they need to make those important career field decisions. Without our data, career fields only have their own opinions to depend on. "

He said the OA process consists of three stages -- development of a job inventory, which includes biographical, background and task list sections; Internet administration of the survey to career field incumbents; and an analysis of data, which leads to an OA report.

The program's 2009 annual report indicates occupational analysts surveyed 30 Air Force specialty codes, conducted 122 base visits, interviewed 729 subject-matter experts and administered 82,423 surveys. AFSCs surveyed ranged from airborne mission systems and operations intelligence to engineering and contracting.

Lisa McLemore, OA Air Power Generation Branch occupational analyst, said surveys can stem from special requests or Air Force needs, but generally take place about every three years for each enlisted career field with officer and civilian fields surveyed upon request.

"During the development of the job inventory, we interview as many people as possible to ensure we capture all the tasks performed in a career field," she said. "Once the job inventory is developed and the survey instrument is created, it is administered via the Web. All members of the career field being studied will receive the survey.

We are able to capture much of an Airman's biographical information via their common access card. This cuts down on errors and helps us ensure we capture a representative sample of their career field," she added.

Mr. Caussade said it is important that respondents take the survey seriously.

"We have a one-of-a-kind mission that directly impacts career field training and promotion test development," he said. "These surveys will impact Airmen's training and promotion tests for the rest of their career."

Jim Mayotte, OA Combat Services and Support Branch occupational analyst, said the survey "is the field speaking."

"We present their voice to Air Force decision-makers from all their input," he said.

Armed with massive amounts of data from the surveys, occupational analysts, who are trained in fields such as business and industrial psychology as well as human resources, analyze areas such as career ladder structures, career field jobs, the relevance of technical training, job satisfaction, re-enlistment intentions and deployed job requirements.

In addition to identifying requirements for training and promotion test construction, OA is also conducting research on increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of technical training pipelines. They are analyzing assessment tools to help determine which tools are predictive of who will and who won't succeed in initial skills training for certain AFSCs, especially hard-to-fill, high-cost career fields with high training attrition rates.

Most assessment tools screen recruits through cognitive tests such as the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, but occupational analysts are now looking at candidates' noncognitive abilities, or what is called emotional intelligence.

Rodney Hayden, Operations, Standards and Research Branch occupational analyst, said an example of this application is the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory, which is currently being administered to all battlefield Airman candidates at military entrance processing stations.

The data from that assessment will be inserted into a mathematical model that may be used in the future to predict who will and who won't succeed in training.

The EQi measures traits such as self-regard, assertiveness, independence, empathy, stress tolerance, problem-solving and optimism.

"We're trying to find an optimized model," Mr. Hayden said. "We want to make career field training more efficient."

Occupational analysis in the Air Force dates back 40 years, but its most recent change occurred in July 2009 when the Air Force Occupational Management Squadron's OA flight converted from a mixed military-civilian flight to a civilian-only organization.

Roger Corbin, OA chief, said the organization is transformed and more capable than ever to meet Air Force customer needs for factual and objective information on Air Force career fields.