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About the Standard Occupational Classification 2000 (SOC 2000)

The Standard Occupational Classification was first published in 1990 to replace both the Classification of Occupations 1980 (CO80) and the Classification of Occupations and Dictionary of Occupational Titles (CODOT). SOC 90 has been revised and updated to produce SOC 2000.

The two main concepts of the classification remain unchanged:

  • kind of work performed - job, and

  • the competent performance of the tasks and duties - skill

Two main sources of pressure to revise SOC 90 were the need to improve alignment with the International Standard Classification of Occupations and the classification issues revealed by the research to develop the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification.

Major influences on the nature and shape of the revision were the innovations associated with technological developments and less directly, the re-definition of work reflecting the educational attainment of those entering the labour market.

The main features of the revision include:

  • a tighter definition of managerial occupations

  • a thorough overhaul of computing and related occupations

  • the introduction of specific occupations associated with the environment and conservation

  • changes linked to the upgrading of skills but the de-skilling of manufacturing processes, and

  • the recognition of the development of customer service occupations and the emergence of remote service provision through the operation of call centres

Whilst an objective of the revision had been to maintain a reasonable degree of continuity with SOC 90, the main priority was to bring the classification up-to-date to reflect changes in society. This has resulted in significant changes to the classification.

Although there are still nine major groups, the top tier of the classification, their titles have been changed to reflect the change in content.

SOC 2000 Major groups

  1. Managers and senior officials
  2. Professional occupations
  3. Associate professional and technical occupations
  4. Administrative and secretarial occupations
  5. Skilled trades occupations
  6. Personal service occupations
  7. Sales and customer service occupations
  8. Process, plant and machine operatives
  9. Elementary occupation

A considerable number of jobs have moved between unit groups, many between minor groups and more than a few between major groups. However the numbers of groups in the tiers are similar.

SOC 90 SOC 2000
Major groups 9 9
Sub major groups 22 25
Minor groups 77 81
Unit groups 371 353

One of the first decisions made on the structure of the classification was to bring the sub major groups into the numbering system by having a four digit classification.

Major group 2 Professional occupations
Sub major group 2a Science and engineering professionals
Minor group 20 Natural scientists
Unit group 200 Chemists

 

SOC 2000 Example of the numbering system

Major group 2 Professional occupations
Sub major group 21 Science and engineering professionals
Minor group 211 Natural scientists
Unit group 2111 Chemists

 

SOC 2000 - The use of trailing zeroes

When SOC 90 was revised to produce SOC 2000, one of the changes made to the Standard Occupational Classification numbering system was to give the use of the trailing zero a particular meaning. This matched the convention used in the International Standard Classification of Occupations, ISCO 88.

Where a unit group is the only one within a minor group, its code number ends with a zero, for example:

Minor group 415 Administrative occupations: general
Unit group 4150 General office assistants/clerks

However where a minor group has more than one unit group, the zero is not used.

Minor group 415 Administrative occupations: communications
Unit group 4141 Telephonists
Unit group 4142 Communication operators

A last digit, or trailing zero is used to indicate that there is only one unit group within the minor group or that coding could not be achieved at the more detailed level.

For instance, the use of code 4140 would indicate that the response could be coded to the minor group 414 but that there was insufficient information to assign one of the unit group codes 4141 or 4142. Using a zero in this way is rare.

One major disadvantage is that the derivation of the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification needs the official four digit unit group code. Another disadvantage is that tables with counts at all levels of the occupation classification would require extra rows for codes such as 4140. If those records given code 4140 were included in the total for minor group 414, this figure would be greater than the sum of counts for unit groups 4141 and 4142.

SOC 2000 - The use of trailing digit '9'

Within each level of the classification, the trailing digit '9' is reserved for occupations 'not elsewhere classified'. At the unit group level, these 'n.e.c.' groups contain a mix of occupations, each of which are not found in sufficient numbers to merit their own unit group.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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