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.

Skills 101

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.

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