Skill Taxonomy – By Burning Glass Technologies

Skills are displacing occupations as the unit of analysis by which the job market should be measured. A deep understanding of the skills in demand in the market today enables students and job seekers to better prepare themselves for the future of work, enables training providers to ensure that their content is more relevant and up-to-date, and enables employers to build more effective pipelines for the skills they will need tomorrow. Further demand for skills is an essential way of measuring technology adoption and rates of automation across the job market. A modern skills taxonomy sits at the core of each of these key activities and is necessary to connect labor market supply with demand.

However, one major barrier to in-depth understanding of labor market trends is limited information on the skills required of job seekers, and they are changing. Online job postings and resumes are a novel source of skill data. These sources by no means replace traditional, survey- based labor market information, but they do provide new perspectives. Resumes, for example, offer real-world maps of career pathways. Job postings provide information on how new technologies like artificial intelligence, blockhchain, and autonomous vehicles affect the labor market – insight that isn’t available in other data sets.


To measure the evolution of skill requirements in the labor market, Burning Glass Technologies has developed a robust and dynamic skills taxonomy based on its analysis of hundreds of millions of online job postings, resumes, and social profiles. Our skills taxonomy currently holds over 17,000 unique skills and is supported by a data operation that allows us to update and refresh the taxonomy as the market evolves. The skills are organized into skill clusters, which are groupings of similar skills and into skill types – specialized, software, and baseline.

From this dataset of more than a billion records, we are able to develop a rigorous understanding of the relationships between skills, jobs, and industries. This means not only understanding the relationships within categories – such as how skills are related to one another – but also mapping relationships across categories.

For example, we can track how the skill requirements for a given job are evolving, how skill requirements differ from industry to industry – and even within the same occupation – as well as which skills are growing fastest, and which skills are most valuable to employers. This approach makes Burning Glass’ skill taxonomy uniquely actionable across a range of audiences, including job seekers, students, educators, employers, and researchers.

We believe skills must be more than a label and that taxonomies must be organized for actionability. Skills should exist within the context of the labor market: How does each skill relate to specific occupations and specific industries? What is the value in learning a skill and which skills are most likely to promote labor market advancement or mobility?

Organization of the taxonomy

Burning Glass tags each skill with skill types, places each skill in a hierarchical cluster system, and adds several pieces of market- relevant metadata for each skill.

Burning Glass’s skill taxonomy includes three skill types:

  • Baseline Skills such as communication, problem-solving, and creativity
  • Technical Skills such as welding, software development, and financial analysis
  • Software Skills such as Adobe Photoshop, SQL, and AutoCAD
    In order to help users navigate our list of skills, we have organized them into a three-layer taxonomy.

Skills are the basic unit of analysis in our taxonomy.

Skill Clusters are groups of similar skills that commonly train together or are substitutable in many labor market contexts. Clusters are developed using a combination of statistical clustering methodologies and curatorial review by domain experts. A common application of skill clusters is training program design: well-crafted courses typically focus on several of the most commonly used skills within a cluster.
Clusters are then organized into Cluster Families, which map roughly to career areas (e.g. Information Technology, Finance, and Health care). The chart below shows a section of our IT taxonomy focusing on mobile and web development skills.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Mapping the Genomes of Jobs: The Burning Glass Skills Taxonomy


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