Implications of a Skills-Based Talent Strategy on Credentialing and Proficiency Assessment

This is the third in a ten-part series on Skills-based talent.

Today’s blog focuses on the implications and challenges of implementing a skills-based talent strategy on credentialing and proficiency assessment processes. Shifting to a skills-driven learning strategy places new importance on having an accurate, current, and complete skills inventory of the workforce. With that, methods for assessing skills often need to be updated, raising a host of implications for organizations to consider.


  • Skill-Based Certifications: Instead of solely relying on traditional academic qualifications or job titles, the organization places greater importance on skill-based certifications and credentials aligned with transparent skills taxonomy and ontology frameworks. These credentials validate a person’s ability to perform specific tasks and demonstrate proficiency in particular skills while clarifying for employees how certifications are linked to career progression and salary increments.
  • Definition of Credentialing Frameworks: Organizations must align on a ‘badging’ or credentialing framework to acknowledge the acquisition of different levels of skills within the skills taxonomy. While competency models can be leveraged, they will still be decomposed to the skill level. This credentialing or badging system needs alignment across the enterprise if meaningful reporting data is to be mined from it. It must accommodate skills acquired both internally and externally through training or practice. Badges or credentials also need to be designed practically to drive resourcing and performance management decisions to meaningfully and equitably differentiate candidates of varying skill levels.
  • Integration with external credentials: In many (regulated) industries, internal credentialing systems must align with industry standards or requirements. It is also advantageous if they align with recognized external criteria, such that a) non-traditional resources (non-degreed, contingent, gig) can be aligned with internal measures, and b) so internal credentials have a motivating value to workers within and beyond the organization.
  • Recognition of Informal Learning: The organization acknowledges the value of informal learning and skills gained through hands-on experience. This recognition may be integrated into the credentialing process, allowing employees to earn credentials based on practical skills acquired on the job. For many, this practical demonstration of proficiency is more meaningful and efficient.
  • Culture of Continuous Skill Development: Credentialing encourages employees to develop continuously to maintain and upgrade their certifications. This supports the organization’s culture of ongoing learning and improvement. The organization may provide resources and support for employees to obtain relevant certifications.
  • Personalized Credential Pathways and Badges: Employees are encouraged to pursue credentials that align with their career goals and skill development plans. The organization may guide personalized credential pathways based on individual aspirations and receive formal recognition, awards, or promotions when they reach certain skill milestones or achieve exceptional proficiency levels.
  • Maintenance of Credentialing Frameworks: Credentialing frameworks need to evolve as skill inventories and ontologies strive to stay current with the speed of business. Systems that facilitate this ongoing maintenance and interface with other skills-based talent systems will likely be necessary. Credentialing systems can act as a clearing house for skills data, as they interface with learning, resource management, performant management, and skills reporting systems


Implementing an enterprise-wide skills-based credentialing and proficiency assessment system can offer some unique challenges:

  • Proficiency Assessment and Validation: Assessing and validating employees’ skills can be complex and time-consuming, especially in large organizations. Implementing effective proficiency assessment mechanisms requires dedicated resources, sophisticated evaluation methods, and robust systems and processes to accurately measure and verify skill levels and ensure the credential definitions created are relevant to talent and operational decisions. Obtaining robust data to articulate proficiency levels can be challenging, as can developing methods that pass the scrutiny of regulators and equitably assess employees across various backgrounds.
  • Credential Maintenance: Credentialing in a skills-based organization may require periodic reassessment and renewal to ensure that employees’ skills remain up-to-date, relevant to the organization’s needs, and aligned with industry standards and recognized certifications to ensure that employees’ skills are in line with broader industry expectations.
  • Implementing the Right Technology: It’s crucial to thoroughly evaluate and test any credentialing or badging solution to ensure they meet your specific needs and goals. Locking down your credentialing strategy and validating your skills data is critical. Maintenance and ongoing investment will also be necessary to derive long-term benefits.
  • Defining a Skills-based Technology Architecture: One of the more significant challenges may be engineering a skills-based technology and data architecture to define the interfaces and reporting with learning, resource management, performant management, and skills reporting systems. Many of these systems may contain redundant and overlapping data or differing skills taxonomies that must be aligned. This can be a significant investment of time and resources that must compete for priority with other enterprise technology projects.

Stay tuned for our next blog on the Implications of a Skills-based Talent Strategy – on Resource Management.

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Outlook and Trends Impacting Learning & Development

On today’s episode, we look at Part 2 of the current business landscape for L&D, what are the trends that are driving change, and what are the implications on Learning within organizations.