Referential of skills :
the essentials

Have you ever asked yourself"Why spend so much time creating a repository? "
Don't worry, you are not alone!
58% of companies gather their skills in a central instrument but only 16% declare that this repository is up to date. There are many reasons for this, and we are going to present you with some good alternatives.
Skills framework and its main stakes

At a time when businesses are evolving faster than ever under the effects of automation and the search for sustainable development, discover in this article why the skills reference systems are more important than ever. What are the best practices to follow in order to federate all the stakeholders and to guarantee a sustainable use of this tool at the heart of the Strategic Workforce Planning anticipative. So hang on and open your eyes wide, because we're going to tell you everything!

Business and training repository skills

What is the definition of the business repository?

The business repository lists all of a company's businesses 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 business 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 the repository of skills ?

A repository of skills is a tool that allows to group, structure and manage the professional skills of a company. It is notably used to identify the skills required for a position, as well as the levels of mastery necessary for the different skills and the individual and collective development programs of the employees. This skills heritage can be organized in different categories such as technical, behavioral, cognitive or sectoral skills . The different types of skills are detailed in our page for this purpose.

Why use a tool that gathers the assets of a company's professional skills ?

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 level of mastery. 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 matrix of skills acts as a guide for internal talent paths.

The advantages of the framework 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.
  • A lever for internal recruitment: 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. Beyond the level of skill , the manager will also be able to visualize the level of appetence of the employee to develop the skill which is the subject of the internal recruitment.

Benefits of the repository for the HR team:

  • 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. The skills of the future. Our use case Facing Uncertainty addresses this topic.
  3. The skills transverse. 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. To do this, different approaches can be used such as job and task analysis or consultation with employees and managers.
  • Step 2: Next, we need 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 sectoral reality?

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

  • The Répertoire Opérationnel des Métiers et des Emplois(ROME): the operational directory of trades and jobs, built by Pôle Emploi, is a valuable source: on the basis of the jobs existing within your company, you will find trade sheets and the associated skills . A new version of this tool has been developed, the ROME 4.0. It is an invaluable time saver for you to build your central tool.
  • Job observatories: within the branches, the observatories are in charge of carrying out studies and analyses of jobs and providing companies with avenues for reflection. We have listed all the job observatories in this free access file .
  • The OPCOs: the operators of skills provide job descriptions and lists of key qualifications. Do not hesitate to contact your branch OPCO. Examine these resources to complement the collaborative work with your solution provider.
  • The ESCO classification of the European Commission lists approximately 13,500 skills of 3000 jobs. Here is the link to the ESCO reference system
  • The Ministry of Labor's partners are grouped in a page dedicated to employment resources.

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 😃

You may also like
See all articles