The low-down on the IYS Skills Ontology and Profiler, and how it can benefit HR Tech businesses

The purpose of this article is to help HR Tech / HRIS companies benefit from the IYS Skills Ontology – the most comprehensive skills database around – in mapping skills of individuals and jobs.

So what does the Skills Ontology contain, and how is it structured?

  1. At the core is data on Skills – this includes Technical Skills, Functional Skills, Domain Experience, Knowledge, Certifications, Roles / Activities and Behavioral Skills
  2. These Skills are brought together into logical groups
  3. These Skills Groups are in turn associated with one or more Skills Categories
  4. Semantics-related issues including Acronyms, Synonyms are taken care of
  5. Proficiency Levels (Legends) are tailored to the specific Skills Category
  6. And, most importantly, the Skills are constantly updated

There are multiple options available for this powerful skills resource.

Skills OntologyAPI on Skills, with no associations or contexts

  • RESTful API
  • Users can build their own front-end interface
  • Skills are prompted / auto-completed from the IYS Skills Ontology server

API on Skills, with associations

  • RESTful API
  • Users can build their own front-end interface
  • Apart from auto-completion, skills related to selected skills are also shown to the users

Web Plugin for Skills Search

  • Ready-to-use Skills Search box
  • Fully mobile responsive interface
  • Easy to plug in to applications

Web Plugin for Skills, with associations

  • Simple yet powerful front-end interface
  • Related skills in the same category, and related skills categories are displayed for users to pick

Web Plugin for Skills, with associations and proficiency ratings

Web Plugin for Skills, with associations, proficiency ratings and comments

  • Simple yet powerful front-end interface
  • Related skills in the same category, and related skills categories are displayed for users to pick
  • Users can rate proficiencies of the skills selected
  • Proficiency level legends are tailored to each skills category
  • Users can add comments to qualify their skills

Highlights of the Skills Ontology and Profiler

  1. Holistic Skills Profiles

    The focus is on a holistic Skills Profile, and not just on the list of skills that an individual may possess.

    Adding skills randomly, as is normally done, provides little insight to one’s profile. For example, normally skills such as Java, Mobile Application Development, Puppet and so on are added to one’s profile.

    A Skills Profile, on the other hand, is a structured format for capturing the various aspects of one’s skills based on one’s function. For a Skills Profile, individuals are prompted to add skills in different areas such as technical skills, domain experience, role/ activities, behavioral skills, certification, knowledge and so on. Each function would assign different importance to skills in each of these areas.

    For instance, for an Automotive Engineer, proficiency levels in mechanical analysis, tools used for FEA and CFD, experience in designing or engineering of particular automotive systems such as Powertrain or Chassis take on importance. Contrast this with one just mentioning Automotive Engineering, Autocad, FEA as their skills.

  2. Relationships between categories of skills

    The Skills Ontology establishes relationships between different categories of skills.

    For example, the category of Programming Languages is linked to the categories Software Applications, Operating Systems, Development Methodologies.

    To take another instance, in the case of Accounts & Finance, the category of Types of Risks (Tax Risk, Compliance Risk, Governance Risk and so on) is associated with a person performing the Financial Control function. The same category of Types of Risks is also linked in Banking with a person playing the Governance and Risk Management function.

    Such association of skills has a profound impact on the talent landscape.

    Imagine a situation where a position for Data Analytics in Healthcare domain is to be filled. It is quite possible that knowledge of the healthcare domain is paramount in this case and knowledge of data analytics is secondary.

    When we compare or match skills profiles of different people, analysis may reveal that there are many good (and some excellent) candidates on Data Analytics and very few with good Healthcare domain expertise – almost none of whom have exposure to Data Analytics, but a few who have used tools like Excel. It is possible that this last subset of candidates are a better fit as they can be trained on Data Analytics while leveraging on their Healthcare domain expertise.

  3. Acronyms

    Phrases related to skills, where required, can also have acronyms, so that users may use either the full phrase or the acronym, and these selections can still be correlated.

    For example, Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) may be selected by a user either in the form of Cisco Certified Network Associate or CCNA, and still be correlated to the same skill phrase.

  4. Aliases

    Many times, different people refer to the same thing in different ways, or by using different words and phrases.

    For example Digital Marketing, Online Marketing, Internet Marketing or Web Marketing all refer to the same thing. In the case of the IYS Skills Ontology, these are matched or normalized at the backend, so irrespective of which of these phrases one uses, they can be matched correctly.

  5. Proficiency Levels

    Two approaches have been taken towards capturing proficiency levels. The first is to normalize the scale and the second is to use customized scales for different skills.

    In order to perform analysis on skills – such as matching the skills of a person to those of a job, or to identify gaps in skills – two or three kinds of scales are used.

    Where there is a graded nature of proficiency level, a four scale rating is used, and Yes / No rating is used for cases where such a selection is relevant.

    The more important exercise is customizing the rating scale based on skills category in question. In the cases of, say, a person’s proficiency level in programming, proficiency in using a particular tool (say, Laboratory Information System), familiarity with standards (say, ISO), knowledge level (say, of Earthquake Resistant Structures), there is a need for different kinds of rating scales to help understand the respective proficiency levels in these different skills categories.

    Thus, in the IYS Skills Ontology, the legends for the various types of skills are customized or tailored to the skills category.

  6. User contribution and Governance

    IYS fully appreciates that it cannot have a complete, correct and current Skills Ontology all on its own. It banks on users to contribute to the Skills Ontology. Users can suggest new skills to be added, which are then vetted and added to the Ontology after classification. This way the Skills Ontology grows meaningfully to the benefit of one and all.

  7. Behavioral Skills

    IYS has taken an unique approach to profiling the soft side of skills. Emphasis is placed on two key aspects – first, Role and attributes related to the role, and second, attitude.

    This structure has been arrived after considerable research. After considering different approaches, including competencies, psychometric assessments and generic behavioral skills, the structure arrived at is to use clusters of roles, which in turn depend on certain attributes. The essence of this approach is that everyone naturally has certain attributes and these are suited to certain roles. Honing these attributes help us become more effective at playing these roles. More importantly, roles are perennial while technologies and functions change with time. Thus there is an attempt to give emphasis to honing one’s attributes.

    Similarly attitudes, though underplayed, normally have a significant impact on our performance. There are two dimensions to this – in some cases, the absence of, or a weakness in, a certain attitude can be a disabler to performance, whereas on the other hand an outstanding strength in certain attitudes enable performance.

  8. Common format for Jobs and People

    The Skills Profiler is similar for both jobs and people. While in some cases there is a difference in terminologies used, all other aspects are the same.

    This has a very profound impact on talent acquisition and management, since this common structure helps to create simple, precise skills data which then becomes useful for analytics.

skills inventory AD

General information on the Skills Ontology and Profiler

  • All user-related information is stored at the HR Tech / HRIS company’s end. No user-related information – such as name, email, proficiencies in skills – are collected or stored by It’s Your Skills
  • It’s Your Skills tracks the API calls i.e. the skills that are called by the users
  • Pricing is based on the number of API calls consumed by the HR Tech / HRIS company
  • The Skills Ontology is hosted and maintained on a dedicated server located in the USA, hosted by Rackspace
  • APIs can be called through an API key generated for the specific domain of the customer
  • Output data from the APIs and Plugins are rendered as JSON

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