As every company struggles to better hire and reskill its employees, the number one challenge is data. What skills do we have? What skills do we need? And what skills are in the outside job market and how do we find them?
This problem, which is Galaxial in scope, is on the minds of lots of companies.
LinkedIn, of course, owns a massive skills database through the LinkedIn Network, LinkedIn Learning, and LinkedIn’s various recruiter and assessment products. Every learning company, from SkillSoft to Cornerstone to Degreed and EdCast, has to map its content to various skills and jobs, so they all build data sets like this. Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and job boards are filled with this data. And then the big tech companies like Microsoft and Google are sitting on terabytes of skills data because everything they index (from a document to a job posting) has skills embedded too. And specialized providers like TalentNeuron and now Eighfold.ai do this at scale.
And for businesses, each company wants their own special version. Ford needs a skills database to help recruit and build electric vehicles. Chevron and Shell want skills taxonomies to understand solar and wind energy. JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America want skills to understand crypto-currency and cyber. So they’re all building their own.
Many companies have tried to build these skills databases and sell them as a product. Most have given up. IBM spent a lot of money on its Talent Frameworks, for example. There were quite a few off-the-shelf competency companies in the early 2000s. But each of these solutions quickly became out of date, hard to use, and brittle during implementation.
Along come two companies that tried to do this in real-time: Burning Glass, a company that started as a resume parsing engine, and Emsi, a research company focused on helping companies recruit and organize teams. Both companies built data collection technologies, ontologies, and tools for clients – and both sold this data (and consulting) to corporations, vendors, and public policymakers.
Well, they’re now one company.
What does this mean? Well as the companies are merged (both have different toolsets and different taxonomies), they are likely to merge their data sets and hopefully build even better tools to help employers, vendors, and policymakers figure out what’s going on. And yes, they’d like to become the leader.
In reality, of course, there probably never will be a “leader” in this market – it’s just too big. As I mentioned above, the global market for skills and job taxonomies is “Galaxial” in size. Every industry, every profession, and every job family has hundreds of variations – and thanks to technology they’re changing all the time. That’s why we advise companies to build their own taxonomies, using help from Emsi and Burning Glass, and others.
And I know lots of other vendors working on this, so the market for “skills data” and “skills tech” will remain fragmented.
For now, however, Burning Glass and Emsi have scale. With 600 employees and a large set of clients, let’s hope this company can help the rest of us make sense of the fascinating world of work.
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