Introduction to Skill Standards



What are skill standards?
Skill standards tell us what a worker needs to know and do on the job and how well he or she needs to perform to succeed in the workplace. Skill standards define both the work itself and the worker qualifications, specifically the skills and knowledge required to successfully perform the work.

How do skill standards benefit local workforce development boards?
Skill standards serve to evaluate the effectiveness of community and technical colleges and other training providers to develop training programs and establish performance criteria for successful program completion. By ensuring that training institutions use skill standards, local workforce development boards can motivate employers to hire well-prepared graduates of these programs. Qualified job applicants lower employers’ company training costs.

How do skill standards benefit employers?
Skill standards identify the critical knowledge, skills, and performance levels that employees need to be successful in the workplace. Skill standards help employers meet the challenge of being competitive through ensuring that workers possess vital job-related competencies. Through skill standards, employers can communicate their skill requirements to education and technical training providers. Providers can then design and deliver programs that ensure graduates have the skills that employers need. And by hiring graduates of education and training programs built on industry-developed skill standards, employers get the job-ready workers they need – workers with relevant skills, who can be productive and effective and give a faster return on the employer’s staffing investment.

How do skill standards benefit community and technical colleges?
Skill standards can help community and technical college instructors address the following kinds of issues:

  • How to determine the content of technical programs

  • How to know the most current skills and knowledge to teach that will get students jobs

  • Getting employers to define specifically the skills and knowledge they are looking for in employees—and how well potential applicants must perform to get and keep a job

The purpose of skill standards is to document the skills, knowledge and performance standards that employers require in their workers and to communicate that information to education and training providers, such as community and technical colleges. Community and technical colleges can then use the skill standards to develop curriculum that meets the needs that employers have identified.

Who develops skill standards?
Industry groups lead skill standards development efforts. Typically, an alliance or coalition of employers recognizes the need to expand the pool of qualified workers in their industry to meet current or future hiring goals. Often, the organizing body for the effort is the industry’s professional or trade association. The front-line workers, those who actually perform the job, and their immediate supervisors define the skill standards.

What skill standards have been recognized?
All recognized skill standards are posted in the Texas Skill Standards Repository of this web-site.

What is the difference between recognized and conditionally recognized skill standards?
Skill standards fall into two categories: recognized or conditionally recognized. The “recognized” category is granted to skill standards developed and validated in Texas by Texas industry and formatted into the seven specific elements required for recognition: critical work functions; key activities; performance criteria; occupational skills, knowledge and conditions; academic skills and knowledge; employability skills and knowledge; and statements of assessment. This category applies primarily to skill standards developed by Texas industry. The “conditionally recognized” category is granted to skill standards developed and validated by industry somewhere other than Texas, such as skill standards developed by a national group that conducts a rigorous development and validation process. The resulting skill standards may or may not include all seven skill standards elements described above.

The two categories of recognition simply distinguish the two types of skill standards. Conditional recognition does not indicate a lesser or temporary status. Standards in either category have been “fully” recognized, are equal in value, and are valid, reliable and representative of the work they describe.

How are skill standards kept current?
All recognized skill standards must be reviewed and their content updated as needed when there are substantive changes to the work oriented information. As occupations change in response to business and technological advances, skill standards need to change. When the industry group applies for recognition of the skill standards, it submits a review and update agreement. The agreement states the industry group's commitment to review and update the skill standards, as necessary, and to submit any updates.

How can you get involved?
Employers can become involved by developing skill standards, participating on an Industry Technical Advisory Committee to oversee the skill standards development process, requesting conditional recognition for existing skill standards developed outside the State of Texas, hiring from recognized programs that teach to the skill standards, or by promoting skill standards’ use among education and training providers. Community and technical colleges can become involved by integrating skill standards into curricula.