Why We Stand For Skills

The Shared Language of the Labor Market

Published on Jun 30, 2023

Updated on Mar 4, 2024

Written by Tim Hatton

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If we talk about the labor market using anything but skills, we’re creating an unnecessary level of abstraction, and there’s no need for that. Discussing skills themselves allows everyone to say exactly what they mean, and ask for exactly what they want. This minimizes miscommunication, enabling a job market that works, with greater efficiency, for everyone.

At Lightcast, our decades of labor market expertise have convinced us to put skills at the center of everything we do—so that we can create a labor market that works for everyone. Our software and consulting solutions are powered by skills, and so are the internal taxonomies that regulate our billions of data points.

More importantly, we want everyone to speak the shared language of skills. That’s why we’re giving away our shared Open Skills library: our list of skills has been generated from real-world data, vetted by experts, and ready for you today, so you don’t have to start from scratch.

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Everyone involved in the labor market, at every level, can put skills to use. Educators need a language that will show value to prospective students and employers, and individual workers need employer-friendly language that will communicate their value to businesses. At the same time, businesses need to know how to clearly express what they’re looking for, so they don’t miss out on hiring valuable talent, and regions need to understand how they compare to other communities and how to stay competitive. Skills enable all of this.

At their most basic level, every worker has a skill set, and every job is a set of tasks. So when an employer posts a job opening, they say they need a “software developer,” and that’s true, but on a more specific level, they need someone who writes C++ and knows how to communicate clearly in a scrum meeting. When an employer lays that out clearly, then they attract the right candidates for the position, and the organization as a whole can see what skills its workforce has, where the gaps are, and how to bridge them.

Jobseekers benefit from this clarity because it lets them see precisely what they need to know in order to succeed at a specific job. That can help workers find their best fits right away, or also show them what they need to learn in order to succeed in their chosen field.

By identifying and clearly stating what skills students are being taught in their classes, education institutions can promote their own value to students—and, by helping students see what career opportunities their skills enable, this also helps create a cascading benefit of better alumni outcomes benefitting future recruitment. 

When community leaders want to see how their region compares and how it can help develop in the future, skills also provide a lens we can use to identify progress and opportunities. Skills show regions how they compare to others, and how to play to the strengths of their existing workforce, in both the present and the future.

At every level of the labor market, clarity is crucial. Too often, jobseekers, employers, educators, and community leaders talk past each other, using unclear terminology that limits how much each side can understand the others.

Skills are the solution, because they create a shared language that everyone can speak.