Shared Skills Language

Creating a common language to unify the worlds of work and learning through a shared understanding of skills.

Anyone who ever attended a mixed gathering of private business, education or workforce professionals likely noticed one thing: each constituency has its own language. Admittedly, the proprietary language of each stakeholder group works well for that constituency; thus the lack of consistency is not the fault of any single group. But the ability to communicate among constituencies seamlessly is seriously hampered by the lack of a shared language. Nowhere is this language barrier more pronounced than in the discussion of “skills” – a term ubiquitous for all groups but without uniform definition.

To solve this highly pervasive problem, the Center for Employability Outcomes developed the Shared Skills Language Platform in an effort to normalize the discussion of skills and eliminate confusion.  The Shared Skills Language Platform is based upon a skills library, curated by C4EO and its partners, that provides institutions and industry with the foundation to gain a deeper understanding of competencies across multiple dimensions.

While the idea of a shared skills language is not new, C4EO’s Shared Skills Language Platform, and the applications that can be built upon it, marks a new and more strategic evolution over the government directed policies of the past.  The new direction is a combination of both public and private mandates to have major positive impacts on business talent acquisition.  This can only be done by an agenda agnostic, partnership-based organization focused on real-world input from public and private institutions and a strong dedication to continually curate the skills library at the heart of the platform.

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In order to normalize and standardize discussion on skills and competencies across different mindsets, from students to colleges to businesses, it is important to develop a language and documentation platform that all stakeholders use equally as a foundation for improvement.  The main underlying goal of a shared skills language is to assist in the creation of a more aligned, more efficient curriculum across institutions — better serving the needs of the labor market by building more well rounded and productive talent.

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Building on premises put forward by Dr. Bob Glover in his 1993 work Developing a System of Skill Standards and Certification, the Texas Workforce Commission commissioned the creation of the Texas Detailed Work Activities library. Texas State Technical College partnered with the TWC to apply and expand this library to align the college curriculum. C4EO’s Shared Skills Language Platform is the latest evolution of these prior efforts and models.

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Separating C4EO’s Shared Skills Language Platform from previous models is the strong philosophy of partnership between public and private institutions. Current partners are organizations such as the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Only through these partnerships can the Shared Language Skills Platform be truly institutionally agnostic and provide the most real-time updates to curriculum based upon job market needs.

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Future Use

After developing a clear and concise language platform and skills library, C4EO, with proper funding, will work to license the Shared Skills Language Platform and its skills library to commercialize specific applications that will again provide a positive impact on the labor market.

Creation of applications like a curriculum alignment engine and a skills gap analysis tool will continue to provide more evidence-based data to help make better decisions for job-driven curriculum development.

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