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August 13, 2021

Future of Higher Education

Skills Summit Recap: The Open Skills Management Tool

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By WGU Team

Skills – a word that’s everywhere these days. A recent survey suggests 44% of young people worry there won’t be demand for their skills and knowledge in the future. With the disruptions seen in the current labor market, it’s understandable for them to think this is something new. But the conversation around skills is one that predates the pandemic

In fact, many entities are moving to address the “what” and “how” of a skills-based economy. With so many different people developing frameworks to define and catalog skills, there is a danger of miscommunication and misunderstanding. How can a solution be deciphered out of so much potential babble? When it comes to creating technical solutions for the benefit of all, more minds are better than one. If skills are a language that is still being learned across institutions and organizations, finding a “Rosetta Stone” is key.

The solution may be the Open Skills Management Tool (OSMT), a free, open-source instrument to facilitate the production of rich skills descriptors (RSDs) and open skills libraries. At the recent inaugural Skills Summit hosted by the Open Skills Network (OSN), WGU Product Manager Allison Blackwell highlighted the capabilities of the tool. OSMT facilitates a common skills language by creating, managing, and organizing skills-related data. An open source framework allows educators and employers to use the tool collaboratively so skills are translatable and transferable across educational institutions and hiring organizations within programs, curricula, and job descriptions.

What is an RSD? A rich skills descriptor is made up of a contextualized skill statement and associated metadata that enable the interoperability of the skill. These metadata components contain information on occupational data and job codes, a skill statement that shapes the focus of that particular skill and gives it context, intelligent labor market data including job descriptions and trends, standards or certifications that may relate to the skill, and searchable skill keywords. It is a full package of data that gives the skill universal meaning.

As a collaborative tool, OSMT will allow users to author and edit rich contextualized skill statements using a standard syntax while allowing tagging to relevant metadata. Users will also be able to organize, search, and curate a collection of RSDs while publishing the information into a usable format in digital access management, content management, and/or human resource information systems. This will allow the RSDs to connect across industry and educational systems to link the person from learning to hiring and beyond.

This unique tool will continue to be enhanced by the OSN to support broad adoption and community contribution and collaboration. Our hope is that OSMT and RSDs lead to the universal understanding needed to facilitate skills-based learning and hiring everywhere.

Next week, we’ll continue our recap of the OSN Skills Summit by looking at how RSDs empower the learner-earner.

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