Spotlight on O*NET Users: Rebecca Rust

Rebecca Rust

Labor Market Information Director for the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation

Rebecca Rust is a long-time, true champion of O*NET. Labor Market Information Director for the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, Rebecca has used O*NET “since about 1997, since its inception,” she says. “We have used O*NET for skills information since the beginning. It always has been an excellent tool for job matching, reemployment analysis, and business recruitment. We have used O*NET more and more over time. Our most popular application is preparing available labor supply studies for business recruitment.”

The most impactful way Rebecca has driven O*NET use in Florida is by embedding the O*NET database in FRED, the Florida Research and Economic Database, at Whether you are an individual, an employer, or a workforce analyst, FRED directs you through the O*NET data that can help you in your information quest.

O*NET data might be transparent to the FRED user, but it is always behind the scenes. The O*NET occupational data is integrated by the systems work of Geographic Solutions of Tampa Bay. “GeoSol provides similar work, including One-Stop operating systems, for other states” Rebecca explains. Economist Manager George Foster, who oversees Florida’s Workforce Information grant from the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, adds: “Changes to the system now are handled with great efficiency and take little time.” How long does the process to make enhancements to the FRED system take? “That depends on the complexity of the enhancements,” George explains. We put FRED up on a test server, enhance it, ensure that we have the needed quality, and then put it into production. This process does not take the months that our initial creation did!”

O*NET also plays a large role In “Florida’s Reemployment LMI OneStop Workshop.” The Agency for Workforce Innovation has offered the workshop for many years. Customized for each group that requests the learning experience, this is an interactive workshop where participants learn how best to use the O*NET assessment tools and Labor Market Information in the One-Stop setting. “Requests for this workshop usually come from a regional workforce board director,” describes Rebecca. “We usually try to get other regions to join in. It is a major time investment to produce these workshops. Because it’s a lab experience, we often are limited by the available seating for participants. Sometimes we tag on to an already-scheduled conference or meeting.” One of Rebecca’s goals is to develop this workshop into a Webinar, due to the high demand for training.

The workshop trains workforce development professionals on how to use the appropriate O*NET data sets and complementary tools for reemployment analysis: selecting the right tools; evaluating current skills; discovering transferable skills; studying related occupations; using additional filters that O*NET provides; finding growth industries, and selecting employers. Workshop participants learn how to overlay pertinent local labor market information on the data from these dimensions of occupational information.

The workshop enables staff members to help job seekers, employers, and workforce professionals to meet their respective challenges. For example, “Workshop participants complete the O*NET assessments before they use FRED to search for growth industries and employers,” Rebecca explains. Then FRED guides job seekers to use everything they learn from the assessments about elements like interest in work activities and work value/need preferences and apply it to pursuing occupations and/or training in growth industries.

Rebecca and her team know that it is worth their while to invest so much energy, time and resources into leveraging O*NET data and tools. “We receive a monthly Web activity report and can tell what data items are most in demand. We do enough training in the field to know that O*NET is widely used.

“O*NET is so much a part of activity in the OneStops that workforce staff refer to the SOC codes as O*NET Codes!” states Rebecca.

Asked what she enjoys pursuing when not working professionally, Rebecca says that she is likely to read and view material that illuminates other cultures. “I recently read Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Sons. It’s a wonderful book. I appreciated “Slum Dog Millionaire” at the movies, too.”

But there isn’t much time for pleasure reading or movie going. “We have recognized the need to automate the reemployment process using labor market information. It would be great if we could do that, but it would require funds. I’m working now on proposals of what we would do if we secured economic stimulus funds. I would like to automate the entire reemployment and labor supply analyses, which supports business recruitment. This way data users could go through all of the steps without having to go into and out of multiple systems,” Becky wishes aloud. Don’t put it past her. Rebecca Rust and her team have a history of accomplishing what they set out to achieve.