Learning & Development, Talent

What Is Skills Mapping?

How do you assess what skills your employees need to be trained on? What about figuring out what skills already exist in the organization and what will be needed in the future?


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This is where skills mapping comes in. Skills mapping refers to creating a visual representation of the skills needed to perform well in any given role and comparing that with the existing skills held by employees throughout the organization. This comparison allows gaps to be identified and remedied.

Skills maps can provide a view of the entire team—you can see how each person on the team contributes and the skills he or she is best at.

Skills mapping is also sometimes called competency mapping, though some would argue that competency mapping is more comprehensive, as it includes things beyond skills, like behaviors.

It is sometimes also known as a skills matrix or competency matrix, especially when put together for an entire group.

Tips for Employers Creating Skills Maps

If you’re new to skills mapping, here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Don’t forget soft skills. You can train for many types of soft skills, and they’re often critical to success. Things like empathy, communication, and the ability to take direction are important. (These are, of course, just a few examples.) Skills maps can incorporate technical skills, behavioral components, soft skills, and even interpersonal skills.
  • Skills mapping can be done on an individual level to show an employee what skills must be developed to advance within the organization. This can assist in creating individualized employee development programs. Skills mapping could also be done on a team level or an organizational level to assess what training programs may need to be offered in the future.
  • A skills map needs to show skills both qualitatively and quantitatively. In other words, it should show what skills are needed for a given role and how far along the required skill progression for any given person is. Skill levels generally range from nonexistent or complete beginner to advanced or expert.
  • Be careful to be objective. Consider getting input from multiple sources, both for the skills required for the role and for the skill level of any given individual. This can help to make the most accurate representation—which likely would not occur with just one person making the assessment.
  • Sometimes, skills mapping includes employee interest levels. So, for example, if a specific technical skill is required for a role that an individual does not have but is interested in obtaining, that person may be better suited than someone who is uninterested in learning that skill. This is especially important when determining which employees will be moved into new roles.

Does your organization currently create skills maps for employees? If yes, are they used for individual employee development or for assessing future training needs or both? What has your experience been?

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