Skills Repositories:
the essentials

In an era where professional roles are evolving at an unprecedented pace, the significance of well-maintained skills repositories has never been greater. This comprehensive guide is designed to empower you with crucial insights and practical tools for creating and sustaining a robust skills repository. Dive into an in-depth exploration of essential stages, key stakeholders, and best practices, tailored to support HR professionals in navigating the complexities of modern talent management.
Skills framework and its main stakes

Ever wondered, 'Is investing this much time in creating a skills repository truly worthwhile?' You're not alone in pondering this critical question. Many HR professionals grapple with balancing the effort involved against the potential benefits. 

Despite 58% of companies having established a central skills repository, a mere 16% affirm that their repositories are up to date.

This gap underscores a significant opportunity for businesses to enhance the relevance and utility of their skills management strategies. Companies often struggle to effectively use skills repositories. We'll explore viable alternatives and best practices to engage all stakeholders. Additionally, we'll discuss strategies to ensure the sustainable integration of this tool within proactive Strategic Workforce Planning.

Job architecture and skills repository

What is the definition of the job architecture?

The jobs architecture lists all of a company's positions in a way that is shared by all employees. Depending on the desired level of granularity , this nomenclature can detail, from the most detailed to the most extensive, the position, the job, the benchmark job and finally the job. It allows everyone to find the key information necessary for the proper execution of their job, such as descriptions of roles and missions, methodologies, tools used, processes and best practices. The jobs repository offers a common vision and facilitates the mastery of their role and their universe, by providing a common language and tools. This tool is always produced before the tool below, which details the skills.

What is the definition of a Skills' repository?

A repository of skills is a tool that allows to group, structure and manage the professional skills of a company. This tool is primarily utilized to pinpoint the essential skills needed for each position, determine the required proficiency levels for various skills, and develop both individual and collective employee development program. This skills portfolio akin to a corporate asset, can be categorized into various domains such as technical, behavioral, cognitive, and industry-specific skills . The different types of skills are detailed in our page for this purpose.

Why adopt a tool that consolidates a company's professional skill assets?

The creation of this major tool for the Strategic Workforce Planning The creation of this major HR tool goes hand in hand with the achievement of several objectives for HR players: employees, managers and HR teams (HRD, job managers, career management managers, training managers, etc.) and social partners.

The purpose of the repository for employees:

By describing the company's business environment, this tool provides a benchmark for talent to take greater responsibility for managing key skills .

  • A better knowledge of their strengths and areas for improvement. The levels of mastery of the skills expected offer a visibility on the apprehension of the job of the employees. The latter thus become actors of their own development.
  • Continuous updating of the mastery level. To evaluate the levels reached, the employee goes through an initial self-assessment. This can then be completed by taking into account the assessment of managers and colleagues, thus providing the employee with a third-party opinion.
  • An opportunity to take ownership of internal opportunities. Thanks to the company's job directory, employees can see the unique career paths and job gateways they can take.
The dynamic Skills' matrix acts as a guide for internal talent paths.

The framework's advantages for managers :

  • A performance management lever: the performance of an employee comes from several sources, including the good adequacy of the level of skill of an individual within a business. Thus, this internal index makes it possible to explain and manage individual and collective performance.
  • Individual adaptation of objectives : the manager now focuses on rational factors of performance and encourages the development of individual skills in a targeted manner. The objectives are now adapted to each individual, resulting in a better individualization of the relationship with each team member.
  • Boosting internal candidate sourcing: all the assets sought during a recruitment process are visible in an"Internal Talent Marketplace". Designed as a catalog of skills that can be mobilized for projects or permanent jobs, this platform gives the opportunity to make resource allocation more fluid.Besides skill level, the manager will also be able to assess the employee's eagerness to develop the proficiency in question for internal recruitment.

Skills Repository Benefits for HR:

  • A pillar of Job and Career Management: the skills base is used to estimate what the company needs to maintain its performance. It is the answer to the "description of the economic environment" and the impact on the company's business of the Jobs & Skills Management that our partner Implid describes in his article"the lever of sustainable performance". The resulting matrix provides a precise diagnosis of the skills mastered and the qualifications at risk by profession, population, seniority...
  • A source of rationalization for training programs : for a long time subject only to the orders of managers, training needs now have reliable indicators. At the individual and collective level, the areas of skills that are in need of training emerge, which are then weighted during career committees to establish priorities. 
  • A first step towards Tactical workforce planning: short or medium term resource planning consists in integrating business scenarios and planning resources not only on their quantitative but also on their qualitative dimension.

What are the areas of skills to be integrated into your tool?

We recommend that you include 4 areas of skills in your inventory:

  1. The skills at risk. Learn more about the risk of loss of skills
  2. Future-proof Skills. Our use case Facing Uncertainty addresses this topic.
  3. Cross-functionnal proficiencies. They are at the origin of mobilities: skills transversal and mobilities
  4. The skills in need of development. How to detect them? Our article Identify the needs of skills answers them.

How do you create a step-by-step repository of skills ?

Structuring the creative process

Attrition figures in France
The different steps in the creation of a repository

The implementation of a repository of skills is a structured process that follows 3 key steps:

  • Step 1: First of all, it is important to define the key skills for each position, we recommend selecting between 8 and 15 skills. This can be done using various approaches, such as job and task analysis, or by consulting employees and managers.
  • Step 2: The next step is to formulate each skill in detail. Our recommended wording is:"I am able to + Verb + Context + Object".

For example, "I am able to present a business report in English at a general meeting".

  • Step 3: Finally, it is crucial to specify the expected levels of mastery. We recommend 4 levels of mastery:
  1. Beginner
  2. Good notions but no autonomy
  3. Complete autonomy
  4. The collaborator is able to train on this concept

Once the skills have been identified and described, it is time to integrate them into a management tool skills. This tool centralizes all of the company's professional skills in a single repository whose added value is easy updating. We describe this in our page on new methods for updating repositories.

It is also possible to create a repository of skills from an existing model or ontology of skills. 

What is the definition of the "ontology of skills"?

An ontology of skills is a data structure that represents the skills and the knowledge required for a set of specific tasks or activities. It serves as a basis for creating a common nomenclature and allows you to link an employee profile to an internal vacancy, or to attach a training course to a specific skill . This modeling is essential to make your mapping as consistent and reliable as possible.

To build a repository of skills, it is also possible to use taxonomies of skills.

What is the definition of "the taxonomy of skills"?

The taxonomy of skills is a bit like a bookshelf. You know when you arrange your books by difficulty or by theme? It's the same for skills ! We're going to sort them by difficulty level or by skill domain.

Example: imagine you are building a repository of skills for a computer developer position.

To get it right, you'll break down the necessary skills into several levels:

  1. We start with the simplest skills , such as "knowing how to write code", which corresponds to the"knowledge" level of Bloom's taxonomy .
  2. Then, we move on to the more complex skills , such as "knowing how to solve code problems", which corresponds to the"understanding" level.
  3. And so on, until reaching the highest level,"evaluation", where the developer's ability to create innovative IT solutions is assessed.
Example of an ontology of skills
Anticipation of skills as a priority

The 4 best practices to structure your tool

Many people have to restart their tool because its design has not been optimized. Here are 4 best practices to follow:

  1. Create your central tool with several interlocutors. Involving business sponsors, business experts and managers contributes to the adhesion of the greatest number.
  2. Anticipate emerging skills . Putting training on the move and overcoming the obsolescence of certain faculties requires keeping an eye on the skills of your sector.
  3. Describe each skill in a consistent manner. We recommend using an action verb, a context and an object to standardize the approach and to create bridges between several businesses in the organization.
  4. Opt for a hybrid approach. Structure the assets of the employees with the project committee made up of HR, business experts, Business Unit managers, and bring up the data on the skills needed to do the job from the employees themselves.

We recommend additional resources for your project:

How does the skills framework fit into a Strategic Workforce Planning ?

In order to create a reference framework for skills, it is important to take into account the specificities of the company and its businesses. Thus, an example of a reference framework for a service company skills will be different from that of an industrial company. The Strategic Workforce Planning or Jobs & Skills Management aims at anticipating external transformations in order to maintain the employability of your employees. Also, automation, sustainable development and AI have today a strong impact on your talents and on the emergence of new skills. At the HR team level, Neobrain provides a monitoring of emerging skills in order to integrate them into your training approach.

Anticipation of skills as a priority
Anticipating emerging skills in an HR dashboard

How do you adapt your instrument to your industry stakes?

To save time in developing your instrument, we recommend using the many external resources:

  • O*NET Online: Developed by the U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online is a comprehensive database of worker attributes and job characteristics. It provides detailed descriptions of the world of work for use by job seekers, workforce development, and HR professionals.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): The BLS offers extensive data on employment, labor market, pay, and much more. Their Occupational Outlook Handbook is particularly useful, providing detailed information on various professions, including required skills and future job market trends.
  • LinkedIn Industry Insights: LinkedIn, being a major professional networking site, offers insights into job trends, in-demand skills, and detailed information on various roles and industries.
  • Industry-Specific Professional Associations: Many industries have their own associations that publish job and skills data. Examples include the American Medical Association (AMA) for healthcare or the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) for engineering.
  • U.S. Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) resources: These provide insights into various career paths and the skills needed in different sectors.

Involve managers in the implementation of the skills

The implementation of your tool requires the support of all the actors of the company, especially the managers. They must be trained in the use of the framework and made aware of the benefits it can bring to their team. We recommend including them in the identification of the skills required for each position and the implementation of an action plan to develop their teams.

The key success criterion of the system is the use of the catalog at various key moments:

  • Evaluation of employees.
  • Constitution of the succession plan.
  • Objectification of mobility or evolution.
  • Planning of the support path

That's why usability and ease of adoption are key determinants in the choice of your final tool. The user experience counts a lot and allows the HR team to"score points" with a population of managers known for their ability to challenge HR initiatives. Here are some keys to making this transition successfully.

In conclusion, the implementation of a professional skills repository is an essential step for any company wishing to optimize the management of its skills. It is only the beginning of a process of animation and governance that is essential for the sustainability of the system.

Neobrain can help you solve the following problems:

  1. Stop the endless workshops of formalization of the skills
  2. Moving beyond a static model that does not feed off the news skills
  3. Remove duplicate skills that compromise the exploitation of the data
  4. Create a model that will actually be used and promoted by the trades.


How long does it take to list all the skills of a trade?

Depending on the complexity of the craft we recommend between 8 and 15 skills per craft. In the workshop you will need 2 hours per trade.

Using an AI-based solution will allow you to generate skills from your industry data and save 40% of time on average. You can then customize them according to your specificities.

How to choose the skills to be included in the common collection?

Out of 15 skills we recommend 8 hard skills, 4 soft skills and 3 transversal skills for a technical job skills .

The choice of skills is made with the business experts, B.U. Directors, HR. We advise anticipating emerging skills to integrate them into the collection.

How to measure the effectiveness of a repository of skills ?

In the first instance it is important to check its consistency:

  • Do all employees have an assigned manager?
  • Are all employees attached to a job?

Then, its effectiveness is measured in the use of the tool during performance reviews and training plans. Ultimately, the objective is to see skills improve.

How to avoid duplication of skills

The duplication of skills can reach up to 15-20% of the references. Upstream, it is necessary to formulate the skills in a homogeneous way, i.e.: "I am able to + verb + context + complement".

Moreover, artificial intelligence will come to your rescue to identify and deduplicate them thanks to its semantic analysis.

How to update the repository?

Updating is the key to long-term repository use. We recommend 3 activities:

  • Establish a governance team that reviews the repository on a regular basis.
  • Benefit from emerging skills suggestions provided by an AI.
  • Allow employees to add to their profile according to your own rules.

Do you still have questions?

Please feel free to contact us for more information 😃

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