What Is Skills Management?

E.A. Sanker

Skills management is the area of management that involves allocating and building on the skills of people. In a business setting, this type of management seeks to match an employee with certain skills to a job that best fits his or her abilities. Professional training and development may be involved. Skills management is also used in educational programs as a diagnostic and prescriptive method for teaching a subject.

Employees sometimes seek additional training in order to earn higher pay or a more desirable position within the company.
Employees sometimes seek additional training in order to earn higher pay or a more desirable position within the company.

To implement a skills management program, the organization must first identify the skill sets required by the jobs under study. Skill sets may be quantified as part of a matrix or framework, with different levels indicating different proficiency. Employees are graded based on how well the job skills they possess correlate with those that are required. If a gap is identified, or the employee’s abilities do not measure up, management may seek development or training for the employee in that area.

Since different jobs within an organization often require different skill sets, skills management seeks to deploy employees based on how well their abilities match what is required for the position. Upper level executives, for example, often are required generate large-scale strategies for the organization, so they likely need the ability to conceptualize abstract ideas. An employee who works directly with people, such as a human resources manager, must communicate well and being willing to make him- or herself accessible. A technical employee must possess technical knowledge. Sometimes a combination of several types of skills is required for a given position.

Skills management is advantageous for businesses because it reduces inefficiency and increases proficiency among employees. It can also provide a useful rubric for employees in assessing their own professional development. An individual may seek training once he or she identifies a skill gap that can be filled, leading to higher pay or a more desirable position in the company.

Due to the widespread use of skills management as a tool for assessing areas for future development, skills management systems (SMSs) are commercially produced. SMSs are software packages that help aid managers in tracking skill data and strategies. Some SMS programs are geared towards education and are used in teaching.

In education, skills management involves diagnosing the problems and abilities of the student and noting areas for improvement. This approach can be used in a number of subjects, but has especially been studied in the teaching of reading. Teachers remain divided on the effectiveness of SMSs, however, due to their tendency to fragment the reading curricula into worksheets and drills rather than offering a holistic approach.

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