Skill management has gained a lot of attention since more and more decision-makers have the topic on their radar driving it forward in their organizations. In supporting clients along this way, we’ve noticed one thing in particular: The use of skills in different formats and contexts is more complex than one might initially expect and requires further discussion. For example, the following question often comes up:

Is it sufficient to distinguish employee and organization skill perspectives only?

In this blog post, we want to share a more detailed view regarding possible perspectives and relevant skill sets. From our experiences with different clients, we found the following simple graphic quite helpful for a fruitful discussion:

Different perspectives lead to different skill sets with varying use cases, added values, and update cycles.

Employees skill sets

Each employee has an individual skill set representing their capabilities, competencies, and experiences that can be useful in the work context. In combination with other skill sets, they also are a starting point for individualized learning, the creation of career paths, and the assignment of employees to (project) positions.

Job roles skill sets

Company specific job architectures typically cover several hundred generic job roles. Each of these job roles can be described by a set of expected skills an employee on this role should have to fulfill the required tasks in the job.

Positions skill sets

Specific positions (and related job postings) in a company may be based on the generic job roles. Although, the requested sets of skills are typically more specific for each position and show new talents a precise picture of the requirements of a vacant position.

A comparison of a position’s skills with the skills of a (potential) employee who is assigned to or applies for this position provides information about possible skill gaps. These skill gaps can then be closed by trainings, optimized staffing, or if necessary new hires.

Trainings skill sets

The company or training provider should define the training target: Which skills are being addressed in every single training? These targeted skill (level) improvements should be linked to other skill sets via artificial intelligence. This allows selecting appropriate training courses to close skill gaps for career progression.

Job postings skill sets (in the market)

Ongoing parsing of job postings from direct competitors or across the globe allows companies to understand market developments of skill sets related to offered jobs/positions. Analyses of gaps to internal skill sets of job roles and positions help to keep the organizations requirements and expectations in line with the market and attractive for new hires and employees.

Bringing and keeping all those perspective on skill sets together under ONE company specific skills ontology is a challenge – but necessary for consistent skill management along the employee lifecycle.

The following example describes how skill sets are connected

Anna works in her company as an IT Help Desk employee. All members of her team have certain skills they need for their work as IT Help Desk employees. These skills are described in the skill set associated with their job role. Since every employee acts as an expert for different customer problems, each position has a skill set that specifically describes the skills required for the individual task (like infrastructure vs. application support). This is also the case for Anna’s job.

After four years doing her job, she wants to move forward in her career. Like many of her colleagues, Anna has created a skill profile in which she describes all her skills. On an internal talent marketplace, she discovered a job as an Agile Coach, which sounds interesting to her. The internal job posting of that position also lists the requested skills employees need to work as an Agile Coach. Together with her manager, she draws up a plan to build up the missing skills via suitable trainings offered in the learning system. A few months later, she applies for the position and gets hired.

A brief recap of this blog post

The world of skill management entails many contexts and logics that are difficult to comprehend at first glance. To understand how skills may be used in an organization, it helps to see skills from various perspectives: employees, positions, job roles, trainings, and job postings. Exemplary use cases like the one above are useful to visualize the connections.