A Review of National Occupational Standards and the Role of Human Resource Development in their Implementation

Andrew Sanghyun Lee, Ronald Lynn Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This review of the literature focuses on an increasingly prevalent global phenomenon known as national occupational standards (NOSs). As the term suggests, NOSs present specific information describing the requirements for individuals’ qualifications to enter and perform successfully in a specific occupation. Many countries rely upon information from NOSs as part of their broader workforce development efforts. In spite of their prevalence, there remain critical questions about their eventual adoption by employers, a situation that HRD researchers could potentially help address based on the unique perspective of the HRD field. This paper seeks to review what is known about NOSs, to discuss the challenges related to their implementation at the organizational and national levels, and finally, to propose how HRD researchers, through their unique perspectives, might contribute to addressing the challenges most commonly encountered when implementing NOSs. It is expected that through this greater awareness, HRD professionals might be able to advance the effective use of this important global phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-67
Number of pages22
JournalHuman Resource Development Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • national competency standards
  • national human resource development
  • national occupational standards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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