Human Resources

7 Policies for Building Basic Skills to a Higher Level

By Ryan M. Frischmann

In yesterday’s Advisor, guest columnist Ryan M. Frischmann, author of A Skills-Based Approach to Developing a Career, discussed the necessity for the United States to “reskill” in today’s working world. Today Frischmann presents seven policies that can accomplish just that.

Here are seven skill-related policy recommendations from a recent survey from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD):

  1. A concerted effort is needed to address the skills challenge because skills matter, and the U.S. will progressively fall behind other countries.
  2. Substantial improvements are needed in initial schooling with adequate standards. The U.S. has a young population, and there is evidence from PISA of gaps in current schooling, and interventions have been proven to be successful.
  3. Effective learning pathways are needed for young adults leaving high school. The U.S. already has an extensive higher education system, but there can be improvements. In addition, we are experiencing growth in microcredential and certification paths.
  4. Programs to address basic skills must be linked to employability. If you take an assessment and demonstrate a competency, then you will be employed doing this type of work.
  5. Adult learning programs should be adapted to diverse needs and effectively coordinated.
  6. Awareness of basic skill challenges must increase. Educators need to find gaps in the system. Employers and community organizations need to forecast and plan for future skill demand and competency requirements.
  7. Actions should be well supported with evidence.


The Skills-Based Approach is a methodology and platform to address many of these recommendations (particularly the top five). In the Skills-Based Approach application, users track their skill set and move through stages constantly throughout their lifetime. It suggests personalized, adaptive, and lifelong learning.

Users tap into employability and career pathways as they mature. They may plan for careers 5 years in advance while working in short discrete tasks throughout their education. The benefit is users can pivot or respond to external (changing demand for skills) and internal (success, progress, or failure in acquiring skills) factors.