Employment and Jobs

Creating Real Value: Skills Data in Learning and Employment Records

January 18, 2024  • Haley Glover

Over the last few months, I’ve asked the same question to corporate leaders from human resources, talent acquisition, learning and development, and management backgrounds. The question is this:

What kind of data needs to be included in learning and employment records to be of greatest value to you in your role and to your organization?

By data, I’m talking about credential attainment, employment history, and, emphatically, verified skills data: showing at an individual level what a candidate or employee knows and is able to do.

The answer varies slightly by industry and position, but unanimously, the employers I’ve talked to would find the greatest value in utilizing learning and employment records that include verified skills data. There is no equivocation.

And as the national conversation about skills-first talent management continues to ramp up, with half of companies indicating they plan to eliminate degree requirements for some jobs in the next year, the call for verified skill data will only get louder. Employers value skills data for multiple reasons.

1. Strategic Value

Many businesses are continually working to define and refine the skills that are required for roles with the aim of both creating greater efficiency and effectiveness in the current workforce and identifying strategic workforce needs in the short- and long-term.

“Skills data is much more valuable. You can call up a university and get information about credentials; that piece is easy. Skills data provide a true value add to the strategic direction of an organization. Skills are the currency.” — Vice President, Enterprise Learning, Regional Bank


2.  Measuring What Matters

For organizations that have eliminated degree requirements, getting clear on the skills that are required for roles is a necessity—degrees and other credentials were often used as proxies for these competencies. For organizations that continue to require degrees and credentials, understanding the skills that are gained through those programs is becoming much more important.

“This becomes more difficult to adopt without skills data. There is value in having credentials verified, but much more value in understanding what they’re verifying, rather than just the institution itself.” — Senior Director, Digital Learning, Retail Organization


3. Refined Incumbent Worker Upskilling

LERs offer a potentially game-changing opportunity to save time, money, and effort for companies that provide and require significant training at the point of hire. While job titles, position descriptions, and credentials may offer some insight into what a candidate knows how to do, none of these are specific enough to replace training that a company requires, especially if that training is for compliance.

“When we bring managers in, we assume they know nothing, and we retrain on all management processes. Understanding what they know and what they’re able to do would allow us to create more custom curriculum, or even opt them out of the training.” — VP of Human Resources, Retail Organization


4. Reducing Fraud and Ensuring Fit

Resume fraud is prevalent and costly. Business.com estimates that fraud costs employers about $600 billion each year in lost productivity, churn and attrition, and decreased morale among other employees. Seventy percent of respondents to a ResumeLab survey indicated they had lied on their resumes, and 37% indicated they lied frequently. They reported lying about job responsibilities, management experience, and skills, all vital factors that employers are looking to confirm and which, through LERs, could be verified by trusted organizations.

“Validated skills are very important. A resume can tell us that they have the skills, but we have to remind ourselves that the resume is advertising. There is a lot of exaggeration.” — Vice President of HR and Corporate Affairs, Manufacturer


5. Eliminating Inequities.

Skills-first strategies are emerging as opportunities to eliminate disparities emerging from educational and social systems. A recent report from OneTen indicates that 91% of hiring managers who are using skills-first hiring strategies are seeing expanded candidate pools and are reporting more motivated candidates. For individuals, business leaders are also interested in the potential for verified skills data to support candidates’ understanding of their own skill sets and their ability to effectively advocate for themselves in skills-focused interviews.

“A big concern I have is the ability of someone to articulate what they’re capable of. This is a dramatic shift: going from working in a store to working in corporate, not knowing the language. The delta in communicating oneself is huge. Empowering people through language and awareness of their skills is important.” — Senior Consultant, Retail


6. Creating Internal Value.

Employers themselves are doing significant skill development for incumbent employees, but frequently lack the tools to house and track what employees are learning. Some employers can track what programs employees participate in, though this is inconsistent across companies and industries, and few are able to concretely measure the competencies and learning gained through company-provided skill development, making it difficult to measure ROI and use internal training for career mobility.

“We’re doing skilling, but not in a way that groups I am working with would like to see those skills housed, which is in an individual app that is very accessible and uncomplicated, and that is specific to the individual and holds their verified learning.” — HR Workforce Manager, Healthcare System

The bottom line? For organizations leading the development and design of learning and employment records, verified credential-level data is not enough—to create real strategic value for employers, verified skills data is necessary.

Join the upskilling movement

UpSkill America is an employer-led movement that promotes training and advancement practices to help workers progress in their careers and move into better-paying jobs. UpSkill America is an initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program.

The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.

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