The Rise of Skills Taxonomies

Simon Carvi, HR Expert Contributor at

The world of work is changing fast, even more so since the pandemic. Some jobs are being replaced by automation, while others are facilitated by technology platforms and becoming more globally dispersed. These changes are leading many companies to rethink their talent strategy and build skills taxonomies.


A taxonomy is a classification system that allows the hierarchization of several levels of information. A skill taxonomy allows the company to organize and strategize the required Competencies and Skills to run certain functions or the entire business.

The requirements may be focused on hard skills, or may also include soft skills and behaviors. The depth and level of details of skill taxonomies vary greatly from one organization to another. For a particular job, the required competencies and skills may be located in several distinct branches. Also, several jobs, although located in distinct departments of the organization, may share similar competencies, making it easier for individuals to cross-over as part of their career development. For example, Negotiation skills used in Procurement functions, are also useful for  Talent Acquisition or Sales.

Such classification system provides a methodology for measuring the degree to which a workforce is able to meet the objectives of the organization.


Skills are not a matter for organizations only.

Skills are intertwined in a complex universe, where the orbit of several stakeholders must speak a common language in order to communicate and understand each other:

  • Organizations: Need to acquire and develop critical skills that are relevant to their core business activities to prosper and reach a competitive edge.
  • The Job Market: Job seekers look for employability and candidates must possess the required skills to perform their targeted roles.
  • Universities and Institutions: Must prepare professionals to be relevant on the job market by creating relevant curriculums, providing the right skills for the workforce of tomorrow.
  • Government: Make policies and  decide on investments that impact the education system and the economy. Such decisions impacts the skills demand and availability.

Asymmetric information and decisions between these 4 stakeholders may lead to skill shortages. In an increasingly tech-enabled world: people with skills are in demand.

At country level, mismanaging skills creates challenges leading to missed  investments and economic slowdown, unemployment, and business failures. Skills are the new oil, fueling the economies of the information age.  

A Modern Skills Taxonomy provides  a common framework in which the above-mentioned  stakeholders can speak a common language and solve the skilling challenge.

Organizations need a Modern Skills Taxonomy to succeed. 


Skills taxonomies organize skills into organized categories and sub-groups. The ultimate objective is to understand what capabilities are required for each role in the organization.

This identification stage requires creating a definition for each capability – so there is a common understanding about “what” competency to develop. Before making any decision, organizations must make sure there is  “market relevancy”. Is your organization  developing skills that no one else in the market has? Is there any equivalent skill in the job  market?


Modern Skills taxonomies help understand skill gaps: who in the company has the relevant skills to perform the job?

The good news is that big data offer an unbiased and objective way to uncover skills. It allows top management to make rational decisions about skills investment.


The real value of modern taxonomies is to create alignment between capabilities and :

  • Learning & Development: Identify and assign the most suitable learning opportunities that will develop your employees to the next level.
  • Performance goals: Make sure that assignments provided to employees (including KPIs and OKRs) are relevant to the skills and competencies assigned.

Skills taxonomies ensure that people’s capabilities are aligned with the ongoing business. This alignment is what creates value for organizations and maximizes ROI.


Make sure that Talent Acquisition decisions are aligned with current talent supplies. In practical terms, this means making sure that:

  • Job titles  match with a realistic supply of talents in your geography
  • Skills are either existing or have an equivalent (using closest synonyms) on the market

Again, it is important to highlight that skill taxonomies can help you save months of research, instead of looking  blindly for a 5-legged sheep. Skills taxonomies help organizations make educated decisions about Talent Acquisition.


Having a skills taxonomy helps organizations decide employee movements such as:

  • Job rotations depending on required skills vs skills availability
  • Career development planning by strengthening existing or new capabilities
  • Succession planning based on the criticality of the job position and its skillset scarcity.


It should be noted that skilling programs do not only apply to your employees. For example, companies like Adobe, Hubspot, or SalesForce have taxonomies that enable them to create academies aiming at their end customers, whether they are developers or users. Skilling customers or partners is a great way to ensure satisfaction, build trust and lasting relationships.

Have you built a skills taxonomy in your organization? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Click here if you wish to get your own skills taxonomy. Upskilling efforts start by defining the unique skills and competencies that your organization needs.


Simon Carvi is an HR expert professional presenting over 7 years of experience gained through roles in Talent Acquisition an Employee Retention globally and in APAC. Simon is passionate about how people learn and future of work. He helps organisations upskill their workforce by leveraging skills data and A.I as Huneety Founder.

Huneety is skills Intelligence & Assessment company whose mission is to bridge the skill gaps between the ever-changing labor market expectations and the workforce.  As part of its mission to bridge the skills gap, Huneety makes sure each competency is linked to measurable KPIs & OKRs with SMART definitions!

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