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skills ontology

Upskilling and reskilling using a skills ontology

Recently, we have discussed how using a dynamic skills ontology platform can help organizations understand which skills are present within their business and the skills they require both now and in the future. Once we know where the skills gaps are, we can consider how best to close them through upskilling and reskilling.

With integrations to various content vendors and AI-driven algorithms that auto-tag content, it is super easy to match people with the best learning for their chosen pathways.

And it doesn’t have to be one-to-one skills matching. If there are a number of skills an individual is looking to build, they will be recommended courses that take them as far as possible on that journey, and each recommendation clearly shows which skills it helps build—and even those that it doesn’t.

As skills management is learner-driven, it really focuses on putting the learner in control. And the learning experiences aren’t just related to learning content. Learners can also choose to join a project that will help them build a particular skill or find a mentor with expertise in a particular area.

Finding a project opportunity takes the skills the learner has and the skills they are looking to build and matches these to the most appropriate tasks. We’ll see in the next section how this works from a manager’s perspective, but for employees it means they get visibility of opportunities from across the business rather than just from their own networks, so they no longer have to rely on people knowing them and their skills to get onto the projects that are right for them.

On-the-job mentoring

Finding a mentor is another way of building skills— working with someone who has the skills you want and who can help guide you through upskilling to complete a specific task or project or to reach a particular goal. Skills management makes it easy to find people with the skills you are looking for and who are happy to mentor from anywhere in the business.

Imagine you’re based in London, and when you search for a mentor you find that someone in New York has the exact skills mix you are looking for. You drop them a line and agree to meet up. You may never have crossed paths in the real world, but now you have visibility of your skills and those of other people across the entire organization and the globe.

Workforce readiness

There are two key aspects to workforce readiness: today and tomorrow. Your people and their skills are the power source of your organization—but only if you know which skills you have and where. It is likely that your people have hidden skills that are underutilized, and it is also likely that there are teams and projects that are missing skills they really need. That is the key upskilling challenge for today—knowing the skills your organization has and ensuring they can be made use of.

But what about tomorrow? How do you make sure you keep pace with changing technologies and markets, and how can you be confident that you have the skills your organization needs to enable it to grow and thrive in the future?

Step 1: Having a dynamic skills ontology

The first step is knowing what skills you have across the business. Imagine having an internal database with each employee’s skills mapped to the roles you have today and those you are likely to need in the future. Sounds like the holy grail, doesn’t it? But a skills ontology can do all the hard work for you by bringing in and analyzing your job specs, and your people’s resumes, and even allows comparison with external job market data—all with minimum human effort. And, even better, it keeps on doing this into the future, meaning it’s never out of date.

Step 2: Assess team readiness

And this mapping will show you where the gaps are. It could be finding out which learners need to upskill to improve performance in their existing roles and matching them with appropriate learning, or allowing a manager to assign and/or assess skills across their entire team to spot and consider whether they have the right skills for the next project. And if they don’t, they can find ways of upskilling or look at sourcing from elsewhere within the business.

Step 3: Actively source internal talent

If a manager doesn’t have the exact skills they need in their team for a particular task or project, they can use the power of skills management to find those skills elsewhere in the business. If they then find an individual who has the required skills, they can discuss with them and their manager how they might be able to help. It might be a temporary transfer, acting as a trusted advisor, mentoring a particular team member, or even moving over to the new team on a permanent basis. The system can’t help you persuade another manager to let you “borrow” their team member, but at least it can let you know where to look and allow you to start a conversation.

Step 4: Know when to source externally

If internal sourcing isn’t an option, then skills management can also help with active external sourcing. With a clear view of the skills needed for the project and the skills held by the existing project members, you instantly have a firm idea of the skills gap that you need to fill, giving you a good starting point for your new job description or the person specification for your project.

Step 5: Future-proof your workforce

Another benefit of a skills ontology is that it is constantly evolving and monitoring trends, so you can easily see which skills are on the rise. You can use market data to uncover workforce trends and highlight the skills that your business needs to develop, and use evidence-based market information to highlight emerging workforce and skill-set trends to nurture individual careers.

Skills management makes you aware of upcoming changes early so you can understand the skill-to-job combination across industries and proactively adapt.


To learn more about the next steps in using a skills ontology platform for upskilling, reskilling, and workforce readiness, download our latest whitepaper, ‘Skills are your organization’s superpower’.

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