Learning & Development
2 minute read

Why we didn't buy an off-the-shelf skills database

A skills database is a list of skills that can be used by a business to tag their users, report on them and create interventions such as training. Various companies sell out-of-the-box databases and keep them up to date.

We could have bought an off-the-shelf database, but we didn't. Here's a few reasons why...

  1. Up to date: It was important for our database to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. We knew it would be difficult for any database to keep up to date with our customers skills. For a skill to be added it has to gain critical mass - so by the time it is added, it may be too late for the business wanting to use it. We allow businesses to add skill themselves making it as up to date as possible.
  2. Flexibility: Businesses have their own industry, business and role specific skills. By buying a database, we knew that we would be locking our customers into a rigid structure.
  3. Actionability: We wanted to make sure that it would be easy for businesses to find the skills they need and drive content and expert recommendations straight away. A lot of databases we looked at required a manual to understand.
  4. Affordability: A skills database doesn't come cheap. We wanted to make sure our skills module was affordable so we didn't want to buy an expensive database that we would have to pass on at least some of the cost for.

After careful consideration, we decided that to achieve these core goals we needed to create our own database.

We now have a database of over 1000 skills across 50 categories. These skills cover over 99.9% of the most common workplace skills. 

What are some of the downsides?

By building our own database, we will not be updated if new skills or roles enter the market.

We believe this is low risk as those skills only become relevant when you need them. Various AI tools are fascinating, but if you don't yet need it in your business, it won't be important. When you do, you can add this and tag your content and people in just seconds.

Our skills are typically 'evergreen' (always going to be useful) so will always be useful. We're constantly reviewing the market, including the skills our customers add so once a skill is seeing heavy traction we will add this to our main database. By excluding niche skills that you're not likely to need, we help to reduce the clutter.


If you're interested in getting insights on the skills across your business, as well as providing recommended learning and coaching to your people, request a demo here