Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the current OSN members?
The Open Skills Network is a group of more than 40 employers, educational organizations, and technology providers dedicated to accelerating the adoption of skills-based education and hiring by establishing a network of open skills libraries and skills data.
Who can join the OSN?
The OSN is open to all interested organizations and individuals seeking to advance skills-based education and hiring. If you or your organization wants to participate in the OSN, please fill out the interest form.
What is required of an OSN member?
Alliance members will share the OSN’s core vision and desire to scale the adoption of open skills and enhance interoperability between enterprise data systems in both industry and academic sectors (e.g., student information systems, human resource information systems, etc.).
History of OSN
Why did the Open Skills Network (OSN) form and why now?
Much of the data needed to support skills-based education and hiring already exists; but this data is siloed, not easily accessible nor machine-actionable, making the switch to skills-based practices for most employers and education institutions an expensive and manual effort. The OSN seeks to solve this problem by creating a decentralized network of open, accessible, machine-actionable skills libraries.
This work will empower workers and learners to more rapidly and seamlessly move between education and work along skills-based pathways, and historical inequities in hiring will be reduced as more people will be hired for what they can do and not for where they got their degree - a mission even more critical in the wake of unprecedented job loss and disruption caused by COVID-19.
What are the goals of the OSN?
The OSN seeks to accelerate an industry-wide shift to skills-based education and hiring through the development and implementation of a common skills language used by employers, learners, jobseekers, and education providers. To do this, the OSN will help establish a decentralized network of open, accessible, machine-actionable skills libraries.
What is skills-based education?
Skills-based education focuses on building a learner’s skills and making those skills evident across learning experiences and programs. Skills-based education can help students capitalize on the skills they have earned, no matter where they have earned them, and more easily identify learning opportunities that will help them achieve their career goals.
What is skills-based hiring?
Skills-based hiring focuses on a candidate’s verified skills rather than other subjective criteria. Skills-based hiring can help employers access talent that is generally overlooked by traditional hiring methods, such as people of color, women, people with disabilities, people with criminal records, people who have paused their careers to care for family members, and people who lack a four-year degree.
What are open skills?
Open skills are publicly available skills datasets published using harmonized open standards, with each skill or library of skills made available on the open web.
What are open standards?
Open standards enable compatibility and harmonization as technologies are developed and spread through open licensing of commonly developed specifications or guidelines that ensure interoperability in technology products.
What is a Learning and Employment Record (LER)?
LERs are comprehensive, exchangeable digital records of achievements learned in school, on the job, through volunteer experiences, or in the military and may be represented as skills, competencies, course, certifications, degrees, and other credentials. LERs may also contain validated work history, portfolio artifact/evidence, self-asserted accomplishments, etc. Learners control their privacy, discovery, and sharing of their LER. LERs may also be referred to as Interoperable Learning Records (ILRs).
What is a skill?
A "skill" represents knowledge, abilities, or learned behaviors described in a short phrase that communicates discrete, discernable value an indivdual can demonstrate or acquire.
What's the value of doing this pilot with the OSN instead of doing skills work on our own?
You and your partners will get more help. This is the capacity gap that OSN was built to fill and OSN brings free open source tools and free technical assistance to those orgs (community college, workforce training providers, employers, etc.) to shorten the time commitment and lower their costs of making the their skills-based education and skills-based hiring happen.
What you do will be more scalable after demonstration. OSN is where all the solution providers doing that work for program providers and employers have come together so that no matter which skills mapper they are using, your mappings and their mappings connect. This is key to expand your work beyond a limited set of initial partners. We expect partnership opportunities will be unlocked both between pilots and for pilots with new partners outside of the cohort.
Your work will have an early audience. OSN is hosting skills showcases and is having a large Skills Summit in June to highlight partnerships and organizations doing this work. Government agencies and other state and national stakeholders attend these OSN meetings.
Why use RSDs instead of something else?
RSDs enable quick access to contextual information needed to understand the exact definition of a skill. When an employer posts a job description with an embedded RSD for “communications skills” it is possible to drill down and find out they mean communications for customer service skills. It is also possible to look at a training provider’s curriculum and drill down on “communications skills” to find out they mean public speaking. These skills are not the same but could be marked using RSDs as related. This creates an opportunity to better align the curriculum to improve employer placement. Each RSD has a unique web address - anyone can create links between skills and other data - enabling the combination of data from multiple diverse sources. RSDs are being mapped to other skills standards for maximum interoperability. RSDs are both human-readable (like exploring information related to my own skills) and machine-actionable (like apps that recommend learning opportunities based on my skills). This makes the skills that you create usable to the widest possible audience. For example, they can be used to help increase enrollment through prior learning assessment, supercharge upskilling and reskilling, and award credentials with the potential to automatically advocate what the recipient has learned - even when the learner is less able to.
What is the application criteria?
Criteria is published here.
What is a “pilot lead”?
Each pilot should have partners in order to pilot test the sharing of skills data between organizations in the chosen industry focus. The pilot lead is the organization willing to commit to convening a set of partners for a pilot.
Can we partner with more than one pilot?
What should be in our application?
What else would be helpful to include in our application?
Detail about the state of the skills data (what format is in, who is it shared with, what is your roadmap for it) (for partners bringing data)
The overall pilot’s and each partner’s particular goals for the pilot
Your estimated staff and time capacity
Are you offering support to all pilots in crafting our applications?
What is the expectation for pilot participants?
You have a use case for skills data that you are already working on. The focus at this point is on leveling up existing skills-based education and skills-based hiring initiatives, rather than starting new ones from scratch.
One or more of the partners are willing to do the work of adding context to the skills data (called "Rich Skill Descriptions") and publish the enriched skills data to the web as open data
To do #2, partners use a tool that allows for the ongoing management and publication of their enriched, linked skills data (e.g. the Open Skills Management Toolkit, OpenSALT, Credential Engine Sandbox, etc.)
Someone from the partnership attends periodic meetings with other pilot partnerships to share learnings and provide feedback to technical stakeholders.
The partnership is willing to share its use case and impact story at the June Skills Summit.
Does this require funding or resource commitment?
No funding is required, but time is. Given the expectations stated above, it should be time that partners were already planning on spending and ideally being an Open Skills pilot means that partners as a whole spend less time total on standing up and running their skills initiative, not more.