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The Power of Open Skills Data in the Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL)

Did you know that there are over 51,000 competencies and skills publicly available in the Registry? Did you know that the Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL) supports 66 different properties for richly defining competencies and skills, such as occupational alignment, connections to credentials, and performance levels? These are important facts to know, because as we work together to build skills-based learn and work ecosystems, no one needs to start from scratch. 

Skills published to the Registry using the CTDL provide linked open data as a public good, empowering everyone to connect skills to credentials and jobs. The Registry enables search, discovery, and reuse of skills from many different organizations, including educational institutions, training providers, industry associations, and state and federal agencies. 

Skills data can be published by one organization and connected to credential and job data from other organizations because the data in the Registry is publicly available for anyone to create linked open data. CTDL is both humanly readable and machine-actionable, enabling data transparency that lets us all make sense of massive amounts of information from numerous sources.

For example, digital credentials can link to rich data in the Registry that illuminates the meaning and value of the credentials, such as the skills they contain and their occupational alignments. Skills descriptions can include data about their educational context and career value. An individual can follow a link from a credential they’ve earned to discover its transfer value, connections to other credentials, and where it fits into pathways.

Together we are building powerful new learn and work ecosystems with people at the center. These ecosystems empower people to use their skills as currency across credentials, jobs, and pathways. As stated by our collaborators at the Open Skills Network, these ecosystems “enable workers and learners to move between education and work more rapidly and seamlessly along skills-based pathways, reduc[ing] historical inequities in hiring as more people will be hired for what they can do. Individuals will be empowered to understand and communicate the value of their own skills and talent, and employers will see that talent and make informed, skills-based hiring decisions for the benefit of all.” Participants in the Open Skills Network are creating Rich Skill Descriptors that can use the 66 skill properties in CTDL to provide meaningful data at the level of individual skills, including, among other things, occupational alignments, employer recognition, relevance in industry certifications, and other credentials, and alignment to other skills and competencies.

Skills in CTDL support many different use cases, including skills as currency in Learning and Employment Records (LERs), transfer value, job descriptions, and learning and career pathways.

Here are some concrete uses of skills CTDL data: 

    • The alignment links in digital credentials connect to humanly readable and machine actionable data in CTDL to show a person and/or a system what skills the credential represents, how the credential connects to other credentials, and how it is related to skill-based pathways.
    • Job descriptions include skills that show how they are aligned to credentials that represent these skills, as well as the skills in high-value career pathways to take a person beyond this specific job.
    • Digital wallets of LERs provide a structure where an individual can securely store and manage verified learning and employment records and achievements. Here, people can see and communicate their own skills included their digital credentials and job records. CTDL linked open data connects what’s in someone’s wallet to pathways and learning and employment opportunities.
    • Learning and career pathways connect skills, credentials, and jobs from numerous sources to map, describe, and make searchable and navigable skills-focused opportunities.

Rich CTDL data powers connections in learn and work ecosystems.

    • People are empowered with LERs that contain verifiable records of their skills.
    • Those of us building learn and work ecosystems can search, discover, and reuse open skills data so that education and occupational data sets are usefully combined.
    • And together we can build equitable skills-based pathways so that individuals can navigate to education and career opportunities.

This is not abstract. We can achieve these goals today. 

Learn more, advocate for credential and skill transparency, and build solutions using CTDL linked open data as a public good. If you have any questions about credential and skill transparency or want to get involved, please contact Deborah Everhart, Chief Strategy Officer for Credential Engine, at deverhart@credentialengine.org