Lightcast Open Skills Taxonomy

Uniting the world using skills–and now skill categories

Published on Mar 8, 2022

Updated on Nov 27, 2023

Written by Lightcast

illustration of blocks

Skills Taxonomy, Open methodology:

At Lightcast, we remain committed to uniting the complex web of people, education, and work with the simplicity of a skills-based language. Connecting these groups is essential in engaging people in the workforce, creating unity between education programs and the needs of the market, developing career pathways, and enabling communities to bridge the gap between open jobs and the unemployed. A skills taxonomy is a structured list of skills defined at the organization level that identifies the capabilities of a business in a quantifiable way.

To help everyone speak the same language of work, we developed Open Skills: an open-source taxonomy of 32,000+ skills gathered from hundreds of millions of online job postings, profiles, and resumes—updated every two weeks. The skills are tagged across our entire data ecosystem, allowing you to see how skills relate to one another as well as the top skills by job titles, occupations, O*NET codes, industries, companies, regions, and even keywords. 

As we advance our initiative to connect the world using skills, we are excited to announce our taxonomy update to Open Skills which now includes skill categories!

What are Open Skill Categories?

Skill categories act as a way to logically group the 32,000+ skills in our library. The categories create a hierarchy to easily view related skills. 

Imagine looking at a restaurant menu with a list of 32,000 options. Sounds overwhelming, right? 

Now imagine looking at the same menu but this time all of the options are broken into categories such as drinks, appetizers, entrees, and desserts. This categorized view simplifies the menu and helps you identify what mix of items you want to order. You can even fully disregard categories of food that don’t seem appetizing, eliminating a lot of options.  

We took this methodology and applied it to our skills library to create structured categories and subcategories that easily identify what skills belong to specific career areas, expertise, or aspects of jobs. 

Our skills taxonomy features 32 total skill categories. 

These categories are broad areas of expertise that map to career areas or industries (i.e., Finance, Information Technology, etc). 

Example image of a skills taxonomy

There are over 400 subcategories that exist within the 32 categories. 

Subcategories allow the user to divide each skill category into more granular groups of skills. Skills within subcategories can be used interchangeably or in tandem to perform a specific aspect of a job. Each skill subcategory maps to one skill category.

Subcategories of skills taxonomies

Within the 400+ subcategories, there are 32,000+ skills.

This is the most granular level in our taxonomy. A skill is a knowledge, experience, ability or tool needed to do a certain job or work-related task. Each skill maps to one skill subcategory. 

Lightcast Open Skills taxonomy

Go Deeper

Explore Open Skills

Every job requires a mix of skills—some will be specific to the role (i.e, python), and some more common skills (i.e., communication). To help differentiate skill types, we have 3 varieties of skills in our library: specialized, common, and certifications. 

1.Specialized skills represent the skills unique to a task or ones that primarily occur within a subset of occupations. For example, a Software Engineer might have the specialized skill of Node.js, or Kubernetes. These are also commonly referred to as hard skills or technical skills.

2. Common skills are prevalent across many different industries and include both personal attributes, behaviors, competencies, and learned skills. The same software engineer could have the common skills of Strategic Prioritization or Team Management. These are also commonly referred to as human skills, or soft skills. 

3. Certifications are not considered skills, per se, but are a collection of skills that are encompassed in a qualification. We include them in our Open Skills taxonomy because they are recognizable qualification standards assigned by industry or education bodies. For example, a Software Engineer could have Microsoft Azure Certification or AWS Certified Developer. Certifications also include licenses, certificates, certifications, cards, and microcredentials issued by a recognizable entity. 

You can experiment with our Open Skills Taxonomy categories, or search the Lightcast Skills Library to see posting trends, top job titles, top companies, and active job postings for individual skills.

Search, filter, organize, and visualize skill data

Let’s say you are creating skill profiles for two software engineer roles within your organization and you want to compare the skills to see their similarities and differences. You could manually compare the profiles skill by skill to see if they align or, you could use our skill categories and subcategories to highlight the areas of overlap. You may find that one role has more mobile development skills and the other has more web development skills. 

All in all, educators, communities, or employers could browse the categories and skills associated with each to easily create curriculum, training programs, or job descriptions.

With categories, it is easy to view one industry by the commonly associated skills. A categorized view makes it simple to understand the roles, skills, and certifications required that might be common to the industry. It also allows for easy access to search, filter, organize, and visualize skill data in a whole new way.

Committed to connecting employers, educators, and communities

Lightcast remains committed to providing open access data that will help connect people and work. A standard and organized Skills taxonomy, along with our Occupations and Job Titles taxonomies can equip organizations to use skills as a common language between people looking for work, work looking for people, and educational programs looking to connect people to the labor market.

Want to learn more about Open Skills?

We'd love to discuss the world of applications for this skills taxonomy. Fill out the form and we'll have a member of our team reach out and setup a time to meet.