Skills - Future of Work - Analytics

What Is An Interoperable Employee Record?

We are in the XXI century, but we still use resumes to find a job. There should be a better way.

Dic 14 2020


  • Traditional methods such as CVs, job applications, and credentials, do not tell the complete story of the skills workers have acquired on the job or studying.

  • We need to start recording each of the achievements and converting them to skills data, from the most micro online course to a degree or even a PhD.

  • The skills data should be understandable, marketable and in demand by employers.


During the last 50 years, the way we communicate, interact, and even how we date has changed. However, job seekers still rely on CVs, job applications, and credentials to tell employers about their skills and work experiences.

These traditional methods do not tell the complete story of the skills workers have acquired on the job or studying. And on the employer side, it is tough to verify which are the skills the candidate has.

An interoperable employee record would be an option to improve these processes. By providing common frameworks and language to integrate learning records across independent parties, it would collect verifiable information about a person's skills, career, performance, training, and goals reached.

To build this record, we need to start recording each of the achievements and converting them to skills data, from the most micro online course to a degree or even a PhD. The skills data should be understandable, marketable and in demand by employers. It clearly should include 21st-century skills related to critical thinking or quantitative reasoning or cross-cultural communication.

Having a standardised employee record would allow job seekers to compare their skill sets to the job requirements, and find out the skills they need to develop to apply to their dream job. Furthermore, it would help collect the new skills workers gain in contexts and in ways that are not acknowledged by traditional academic credentials.

Companies like IBM or Walmart have started to hire employees based on their skills, which results in a more unbiased hiring process. It allows employers to make hiring decisions based on verified skills rather than on previous job titles and courses. Without a standardised set of skills and competencies, employers may be missing out on qualified candidates because hiring managers and HR professionals might not be aligned on the required skills for a job.

How can we build an interoperable employee record?

There are a few conditions an interoperable worker record should have:

Transparent: Well defined, based on shared open standards and providing contextual information on the relevance of each skill.

Relevant: Marketable, in demand by employers and updated.

Equitable: Unbiased and enabling social mobility for people with fluctuating skills.

Private and secure: Compliant with privacy and security standards, protecting each person's identity.

Portable: Country, occupation and industry agnostic.

Interoperable: Having the ability to transfer and render useful data across systems and applications.

Free and open source.

Shareable and verifiable: easy to distribute and grant access.

Network effect

We can see it as a marketplace, on one side, job seekers and employees, and on the other, employers. More individuals will demand access to the system as long as more employers trust it. At the same time, as more individuals are part of the platform, the talent pool increases and more employers will be interested in participating.

Similar to marketplaces, the main challenge relies on quickly attracting a critical mass of supply and demand. At the same time, failing to foster trust, safety, and a robust ecosystem pipeline could threaten its development.

Jobs, skills and credentials

There is a vast universe of types of jobs, skills and credentials that need to be standardised and well defined. Referring to jobs, it's quite common to find the same role with different names. A starting point to normalising jobs names is using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics occupations records. According to the BLS, a total of 867 occupations could contain the whole universe of workers.

The variety of types, levels and contexts makes standardising skills a highly complex task. Many organisations have tried to categorise skills, like for example the O*NET, which listed the skills needed and the level required to perform tasks. They defined the skills, abilities, technology, and work tasks across more than 900 jobs.

Normalising the credentials has the additional complexity that learning institutions offer similar learning programs but then issue different types of diplomas. Granting certificates based on job achievements, skills obtained through non-traditional learning experiences, or on the job training is also challenging.

Despite designing and building an interoperable employee record seems to be an ambitious project, it can be achievable by using the technology that already exists. Employees should have a way of accurately recording their education, training and work experience to understand their skills and advance in their careers. At the same time, employers should have an easier way of connecting the competencies they require to fill a certain role to the potential applicants.


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