Take advantage of your  OSN membership by reviewing the resources and recordings below.



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.


What's the value of doing this pilot with the OSN instead of doing skills work on our own?

You can absolutely do this through your own connections and not as an OSN pilot, and our primary goal is to see the proliferation of open skills regardless whether you can participate in a pilot. Given that, here are the three reasons why it’s worth it:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

Yes, that is fine. Each pilot will be considered individually.

What should be in our application?

A couple very basic examples are here. Hover over one, then the other to read.

What else would be helpful to include in our application?

The examples cover the basics we need in order to accept your application, but more information is better! We would love to know the population(s) you intend to serve, what destination you think you might publish in (Credential Engine, OSMT, OpenSALT, or if you don’t know, you can say that too), and for each partner:

  • 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?

Yes! Reach out to

What is the expectation for pilot participants?

Five primary expectations:

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.)
  4. Someone from the partnership attends periodic meetings with other pilot partnerships to share learnings and provide feedback to technical stakeholders.
  5. 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.

Does this require terms of data use etc.?

There are only two kinds of data directly involved in the "open skills” part of any OSN pilot: 1. Your skills data that you are enriching and publishing to the web and/or 2. Someone else's skills data that they have published to the web that you are using and linking to For both 1 & 2, the Open Skills Network is about making skills data open, which means publicly available, on the web, with enough context that a human can read it and know what it means, and enough structure and stability that a machine can read it and use it in applications and algorithms. Here’s an example of Western Governors University’s Open Skills library of 21st Century Skills published to the web. They are using this to allow employers to do skills-based hiring from their programs.

When is the deadline to apply?

Friday, March 5th.

Should we still apply if we will not make the deadline?

Yes! We are happy to work with you to line up future collaboration or there may be a possibility to combine with another pilot who has submitted.

Where do we apply?

Big purple button on this page.

When will we be notified of application status?

March 26th.

What is the timeline for the pilots?

Application deadline - 3/5 Pilot selection notice - 3/26 Public Pilot Announcement and Kick Off Showcase - 4/22 Partner spotlight - 5/18 Skills Summit (Share your work with the community!) - TBD (likely June) Pilot support ends - 6/12

What will the structure of the pilots be?

Pilots will last for three months and will include three developmental phases: Phase 1-Pilot focus and problem definition Phase 2-RSD and OSMT testing and learnings Phase 3-Open skills library publication

Have the pilots been pre-selected before the RFP?

No! The pilot proposal process is open and as long as pilots are meeting the goals and requirements stated on the call for proposals page, they are qualified to be part of the cohort. There hasn’t been any pre-determination on what the selected pilots will be.

How many pilots will there be?

5-7 based on the team’s capacity to support the pilots.

As we consider partners, who all is a member of the OSN?

The best list to reference is on our website partners page.