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Skills audits: Tools to identify talent

Different EU documents, including the 2012 Council Recommendation on validation of non-formal and informal learning and the 2016 Council Recommendation on Upskilling Pathways, promote skills audits as one means to support individuals in their transition periods. In these documents skills audits are suggested as a practice to identify and document knowledge, skills and competence of individuals with a view to further inform decisions about career orientation, education or training. However, there is limited evidence about the extent to which skills audits are used and what they entail in practice. The purpose of this study was to improve the knowledge base about skills audits, to identify main types of skills audits, the methods and approaches used for skills audits as well as to assess the extent to which standards are used as part of the process. Considerations about effectiveness of skills audits were also analysed., The research shows that while there is a high number of practices that fall under the definition of skills audits as presented in the 2012 Council Recommendation on validation, the term skills audit itself and its translation is not used in practice. Most skills audits have a common thread. The four main types of skills audits are those for self-development, educational advancement, labour market integration, and talent management in companies. The relationship between validation and skills audits is not always clear to stakeholders. In addition, the level of integration between validation (which encompasses identification, documentation, assessment and certification) and skills audits varies, depending on the type of audit. The evaluations reviewed and the interviews carried out systematically highlighted the positive effect of skills audits on the activation and motivation of beneficiaries. Skills audit are reported as an important instrument through which individuals gain an insight into their own skills and capabilities, thus increasing awareness of individuals’ potential and triggering activation mechanisms. This is an important precondition for all other effects of this type of practices.