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Skill Banks Are the Future of Skills

Updated: May 15

Skill Master – The $Million Dollar Note of the Future World of Work

Skills are the fundamental currency of the future world of work according to everybody it seems…Forbes, Deloitte, Josh Bersin Academy, Workday, Udemy and LinkedIn to name a few. The point being that the more skills we have mastered the more our value in the future world of work marketplace increases. Certification “stamps” are the new currency “Notes”. The more notes of higher value we have attained, the more skills we’ve mastered, the more valuable we will be on

Skill banks for career-pathways
Skill banks

Introducing Skill Banks

Just like Banks manage notes today, so we are seeing the emergence of Skill Banks, managing skills on behalf of account holders, LinkedIn perhaps is a perfect example of this. But not all Skill Banks will be equal. Virtually all will offer skill accounts itemized according to the roles, jobs, projects, and gigs completed. The best, however, will go beyond mere itemization of skills. For them it’s about enabling career pathways and the journey to skill mastery. It’s about being the place to know…

…where am in my journey to master the skills associated with my current career move and to learn about what skills I need to build to get ready for my next career moves…

Think of career moves as accounts in the bank and just as we add currency so you can add skills into your skills account relating to current career moves or into accounts relating to future career moves being planned for.

Just as you can move currency between accounts so skills will be transferable, from your current account to your next move account so you can get a full picture of how prepared you are to take on that next move; role, project, or gig or importantly, to enable others to view your level of preparedness for that next move.

Skills Platform Tool demo

Picture of a Skills Account in for the role of a Customer Success Account Manager

Skills Inventories

When we open a new account at a Skills Bank, we will complete a “Skills Inventory”. For all the skills associated with our career moves we will self-asses the level of mastery reached for the skills in our account according to levels of mastery defined by the banks or perhaps in the future some universal standard for skill mastery. Let’s call these levels “guard rails” that help us navigate the journey to mastery.

Robin Sharma in his book “The 5am Club” defines the guard rails like this.

…“Growth is the real sport that the best play, every day. Education truly is inoculation against disruption, but education without execution is the doorway into delusion…”

The guard rails are therefore “Education”, I prefer to use the word “Knowledge” and the “Execution” of that knowledge every day (I like to use the word “Frequency”/high/low).

skill Frequency
skill Frequency

Colors tell the Story

Skill inventories enable you to assess your proficiency and frequency levels towards mastering skills. Based on the outcome of a skill inventory different values are applied to skills. Just like we have different values for currency notes, so we apply different values to skills. For example, “red” skills are skills that are just not important to focus on through this next period, so let’s give these skills a $1 note. Based on the work we know we must accomplish, mastering these skills will not be important in this skilling period, so these are low value skills.

“Amber” skills are the new skills, these are skills that have emerging importance, and the importance and value of these skills is growing. One of the traits of having a growth mindset is willingness to learn new things. Amber skills are the new skills for us to learn, served-up for us as suggestions by the bank as it learns more about our roles, projects, and gigs. These skills demand a higher value note, let’s say $10,000. Based on the results of skills inventory “Green Skills” are the most important because the proficiency and frequency gaps to mastery are at their greatest of all skills and so these are the skills for prioritized development.

…Therefore, we can argue that real personal growth comes from developing “Green Skills”. And so, we will apply a higher value note of say $100,000 to these skills…

Going Purple

Violet Skills are the skills we are close to mastering, it’s that final sprint to the finish line, taking the final proficiency or frequency step. These skills therefore warrant a much higher value of note, say $500,000. When we master a skill, it becomes a “Purple Skill” meaning we are doing our very best work, we have built the very highest levels of both proficiency and frequency. The level reached is akin to an F1 racer recording the very fastest lap of a Grand Prix referred to in F1 circles as “Going Purple”. These are the $Million skills.

Why? These skills literally can have a life changing impact on our careers and importantly the careers of others.

When I am doing my talks, this is how I describe the role of Skill Banks and $Million skills…

“Imagine your opening a new account at a bank. You set up a “Current” account and you add currency into that account and overtime you add more currency in the form of $1, $10,000, $100,000, $500,000, $1Million notes into the account, so the value goes up. Skill Banks will be the same, you can open a new account and add skills into that account related to your current role, project, or gig. You complete a skill inventory assisted by a Skills coach or Advisor based on commonly accepted criteria to determine the level of mastery you have reached for each skill and notes will be issued for skills mastered and the value of all skills will be calculated. Account holders with the highest value of skills, driven by the skills mastered, the $Million skills, will be in pole position for future roles, projects, and gigs.”

Seems simple right, but how many of us truly think about skills we accumulated like this?

This is also the reason why the business of inventing new skills is such a lucrative business. This is why Gartner acquired Corporate Executive Board CEB, inventors of “The Challenger Sale” for some $2.6 billion and why they have subsequently sold the business to a private equity company. Skills are big business.

Skills is also a fashion business. Skills do come and go in terms of popularity, for example, we had the Solution Selling wave and then came along The Challenger Sale wave and now we learn that organizations like Microsoft have taken Challenger skills off its required list of Sales skills in preference for softer skills like EQ and Insightful Listening. The best Skill Banks will respond to these skilling waves by ensuring that their list of recommended skills is up to date.

Skill Board
Skill Board

Picture of managing a Skills Account in with colors that denote different levels of skill mastery reached and setting skill prioritieswith suggestions from managers for the role of a Customer Success Account Manager

Skill Banks and AI

In the future Skill Banks will auto generate skill inventory outcomes using AI for their users. Based on a career move, role, project, or gig the Skills Banks AI will compute required levels of mastery and users can assess themselves based on where they align on the AI derived mastery scale for that role. Today Skill Banks using ChatGTP can already serve-up suggested skills to consider based on ambitions for future career moves (See example below) and add these skills to their skill accounts for development prioritization.

Skill mastery insights will also prove to be very useful to organizations as they look to fill high impact jobs with the right skills or assign the right people with the right skills to the right projects.

skills plus chatgpt
skills plus chatgpt

Picture of using ChatGTP in tomake suggestions for Skills to be added to a Skills board for the role of a Customer Success Account Manager

Skill Banks, Connector Services and the Greater Good

The most popular Skill Banks will have a strong sense of “Service” for the greater good. They will offer “Connector” services to their users and organizational clients.

Skill Bank “Connector Services” connect skill master’s with mentees who are looking to accelerate their development in Amber/Green skills. Connector services accelerate skill development by enabling skill masters to model their mastery through Academy events such as “Masterclasses”. In turn masters sharpen their skills through the work they do to prepare for delivering skill masterclasses.

Skill Banks know that the more they bring skill masters together with users that are looking to learn new skills or accelerate skill development the more value they can deliver for the better good of the community and for their organizational clients. The smartest Skill Banks will make connections both ways, namely…

…they will connect mentees with experts and in reverse experts with mentees…

By connecting the results of skill inventories with “Expert Academies” Skill Banks can connect mentees with experts’ masterclasses and in reverse they can provide lists of “Ideal” attendees to experts running masterclasses.

Skill experts screen
Skill experts screen

Picture of how Skill masters/experts can determine mentoring preferences and identify mentees to connect with to model the skills they have mastered.

Focus on Skill Fundamentals

There is perhaps a more fundamental reason why Skill Banks provide skill inventory services, so we can do something that is fundamental and yet often the hardest thing to do and that is to prioritize skill development. Based on skill inventory outcomes users can move Amber and Green skills into the skill prioritization box and these skills become the basis for skill development planning.

Skill Priorities
Skill Priorities

Picture of how in skills can be dragged into the “Skill Prioritization” box for the purpose of prioritizing skills for development. Skills suggested by managers will also show up in the prioritization box.

Once Skill Banks know what skills are being prioritized across communities or by a specific organization, they can fine tune investments in the right courses and resources aligned to the most important skill priorities. Thus, in this way skill development and prioritization is now user/employee led as against in the past being led by Corporate Learning teams sitting two steps removed from the needs of their users/employees. Of course, the Corp teams can still influence skill development by elevating the importance of some skills over others; Insightful Listening over Sales Challenger or through managers who suggest skill priorities for their teams.

Managers Matter

Will the role of managers be devalued by Skill Banks? Quite the opposite, managers will act in a similar way to financial advisors, with the permission of user’s, managers will have a lens into the skill accounts of team members and can complete skill inventories based on their perspective of the level of mastery team members have reached for each of the skills in their current accounts. Managers can share perspectives by moving skills into the same priorities box such that when team members access their accounts, they see skills showing up as “Suggested by” their manager. Managers and team members can then come together to “Sync” on their relative perspectives. In this way managers act as “Skill Advisors” sharing skill perspectives and making suggestions about which skills to prioritize and invest in developing next.

managers complete skill inventories
managers complete skill inventories

Picture of how in managers complete skill inventories for team members and can make skill development suggestions for team members that show-up on team member skill boards in their skill priority boxes.

The best Skill Banks enable managers to take the next step beyond making skill suggestions to “Connecting” team members with “Expert Academies” to access courses, connect with experts for mentoring and to attend Masterclasses. Just as financial advisors connect account holders to the best investments, so managers will connect team members to the best skill resources.

We know the payback associated with managers making skill suggestions and connecting team members to the best resources is significant. Gartner in their groundbreaking survey entitled “Why some leaders build exceptional talent — and others don’t.” found that…

…“Connector Managers” triple the likelihood that their direct reports are high performers, and drive employee engagement by up to 40%...

Listen to the podcast here

In Microsoft’s employee satisfaction survey completed through the Covid period, they found employee scores for…

…“My manager cares about my career” reached all time high levels of 85pts on a 100pt scale…

Even with remote working, even with employees feeling more disconnected than ever from their teams, Microsoft managers had achieved something remarkable, they had increased employee satisfaction scores for “My manager matters”, How did they do it?

Through this very same timeframe teams at Microsoft were given access to to manage their skill development. Managers completed skill inventories for their team members and were able to make smart suggestions about skills to prioritize and connect team members with “Expert Academy” resources aligned with skills prioritized…

…Microsoft managers acted as “Connector Managers”. The result Managers truly mattered to employees who awarded them with the highest scores ever for “My Manager Matters” …

Read the article about the all-time high employee satisfaction results for Managers using at Microsoft here.

Skill Academies

The emergence of Skill Academies are the next big step. Once Skill Banks know the personalized skill priorities for users, they can connect them to the most relevant Academy resources including courses and connecting users with the best experts and coaches.

The best Skill Banks will deliver personalized Academy experiences. For example, if a skill is a new or emerging skill for a user (Amber skill) they will see foundational resources and connections with local experts. On the other hand, for users who are close to mastering a skill (violet skills) they will see advanced courses and connections to the strongest possible expert led masterclasses and coaches who might be located anywhere.

Skills Perpectives

Picture of an “Expert Academy” in showing only foundational courses and resources aligned with a “Change Management” skill that has been prioritized as a new skill for development by a Customer Success Account Manager.

Summary In Summary, Skills are the fundamental currency of the future world of work and “Skill Banks” will take responsibility for the management and development of client skills accounts. Those that invest in skill mastery and building the value of their skill accounts with multiple $Million notes will be in the best possible position to capitalize on the future world of work career opportunities. The organizations that invest in assisting their employees to build and develop their skill accounts are most likely to be the ones that have the highest employee satisfactions scores for my “Company/Manager cares about my career” and the highest employee retention rates.

If you’re looking at a Skill Bank to manage your Skills Account, for yourself or for your team, community, or organization here are the top services to evaluate:

  1. Can you build your skills account from a skills profile of excellence for the role you perform, the project or Gig?

  2. Does the Skills profile of excellence list the top skills that drive success for you in role?

  3. Can you complete a skills inventory for the skills to baseline your level of of mastery for each skill? Can you come back and update it at any time?

  4. Does the skills inventory measure both your level of proficiency and the frequency of your execution of these skills using a “Mastery Model” such as Richard Sharma’s from the book “The 5am Club?”

  5. Is the skills inventory AI enabled to show a comparison of your levels of mastery for your role, project, or Gig vs. the best in class or for your tenure group?

  6. Does the AI make suggestions about which skills to focus on prioritizing next?

  7. Using the results of the skills inventory is it easy to know which skills to prioritize to focus on in the next period?

  8. Can you drag skills to generate a prioritized list which auto generates a personalized Skills Plan?

  9. Can Managers and team leaders also complete a skills inventory and share their perspective of your levels of skill mastery?

  10. Can Managers and team leaders make “Skill Suggestions” and these suggestions show-up for you in your list of skill priorities?

  11. Can you easily “Sync” your view of Skill Priorities with your Managers view or visa versa?

  12. Can you easily access a list of top resources aligned with the skills you have prioritized?

  13. Can your company upload and tag resources for roles in support of GTM’s or company specific processes, programs and tools?

  14. Can you easily access a list of experts who can coach and mentor the skills you have prioritized?

  15. Can the list of coaches and experts view a list of mentees to reach out to model the skills they have mastered to help accelerate skill development? is one of the fastest growing next generation skill apps and has become one of the most popular skills apps on Microsoft Teams with over 25,000 users. builds data driven skill strategies personalized for every employee for both large organizations such as Microsoft and fast growth tech companies like Impararia, Ottawa in Canada.

Published by

Alan Dowzall

CEO Pipe9 Boca Raton, Florida +1-561-350-6859 Visit our web site at

On social media at LinkedIn

Published 5/12/23.

In my latest article I explore the role of a new ecosystem of what I refer to as “Skill Banks”. Just as we are familiar with financial institutions, banks that manage clients’ money so we will see the emergence of a new type of bank called a “Skills Bank”. Skill Banks will take responsibility for the management and development of client skill accounts. I argue those that invest in skill mastery and building the value of their skill accounts using the services provided by Skill Banks will be in the best possible position to capitalize on the future world of work career opportunities.

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