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WGU Celebrates the Debut Release of Skills Library Collections

Open Skills Library Furthers Transparency and Partnering Around Skills-Based Learning and Hiring

Feb 9, 2022

SALT LAKE CITYWestern Governors University (WGU) announced the debut release of nine Skills Library collections. These collections are a centralized and structured compiling of skills data leveraged to promote a more equitable, skills-driven hiring and education ecosystem that enables all learners, workers and employers have the skills and talent necessary to thrive in a fast-moving and ever-evolving workforce. 


WGU uses its Skills Library to design credentials and competencies in its educational model. Designing credentials through this approach assists programs, courses and assessments with alignment to current and projected labor market demands. WGU has long been a leader in industry relevant, competency-based education. The public release of these collections within WGU and to the broader Open Skills Network (OSN) community furthers its commitment to progressing the skills-based ecosystem beyond just an institutional mission. Instrumental to this process is the collection of collaborative feedback to facilitate maximum alignment with industry needs and forecasting. The focus on partnering, cross-industry involvement and transparency allows these collections, and future ones, to be continually refined and relevant to learner-workers.

The skills in these collections are built by WGU Skills Architects and created with a Rich Skills Descriptor (RSD) syntax, which are embedded with meta-data that allows them to not only be machine-readable but also understood in a way that connects into current workforce data and education needs. Skills architecture is the research, definition and documentation of skills. This team works to align relevant skills, workforce needs and WGU’s current and future offerings.  They work within the Open Skills Management Tool (OSMT), WGU’s first open-source project that modernizes and streamlines the process for creating, archiving and sharing RSDs and skills collections.

“We are thrilled to be debuting our first series of open skills collections for public use. This is an exciting step in our commitment to open skills. Our hope is that these collections can be a launching place for further transparency, collaboration, and innovation within the skills ecosystem,” Kacey Thorne, WGU’s director of Skills Architecture, said. “Join us in this effort with feedback, partnership and additional contributions to further the open skills movement.”

“The release of these and future collections continue WGU’s investment in the skills-based talent pipeline by showcasing our belief in a collaborative and transparent environment,” said Sarah DeMark, vice provost of Workforce Intelligence and Credential Integrity at WGU. “We are excited about where our industry partnerships will go in the development of future collections and how these building blocks can help others achieve their goal of creating a skills library.”

This initial release of nine libraries will be followed by future public releases of skills collections to expand WGU’s investment in the future of a skills-based hiring and education ecosystem that supports equitable pathways to opportunities through the open skills collaboration.

WGU is a co-founding member of the Open Skills Network (OSN), which is a coalition of employers, education providers, policy makers, military, non-profits, and other stakeholders dedicated to advancing skills-based education and hiring. OSN envisions a world where learners and workers are empowered to use their skills as currency - with the ability to understand the value of their achievements - within the employment and education marketplace.

About the Open Skills Network

Established in 2020, the Open Skills Network is a group of more than 530 employers, educational organizations, and technology providers dedicated to accelerating the adoption of skills-based education and hiring by establishing a network of open skills libraries and skills data. With coordination from BrightHive, support from Walmart, Western Governors University, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and building off the work of Concentric Sky, Credential Engine, Emsi, and others, the Open Skills Network is developing common standards and practices to serve as the infrastructure for widespread skills-based education and hiring practice adoption. Skills-based education and hiring can advance equity, efficiency, and efficacy in job searching and hiring practices. Learn more at  

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