Towards a 21st century personalised learning skills taxonomy

Rupert Ward, Oliver Phillips, David Bowers, Tom Crick, James H. Davenport, Paul Hanna, Alan Hayes, Alastair Irons, Tom Prickett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Citations (Scopus)


There exists a significant gap between the requirements specified within higher education qualifications and the requirements sought by employers. The former, commonly expressed in terms of learning outcomes, provide a measure of capability, of what skills have been learnt (an input measure); the latter, commonly expressed in terms of role descriptions, provide a measure of competency, of what a learner has become skilful in (an output measure). Accreditation traditionally provides a way of translating and embedding industry-relevant content into education programmes but current approaches make fully addressing this requirements gap, referred to here as the Capability-Competency Chasm, very difficult. This paper explores current efforts to address this global challenge, primarily through STEM examples that apply within the United Kingdom and European Union, before proposing a way of bridging this chasm through the use of a 21st Century (C21) skills taxonomy. The concept of C21 Skills Hours as a new input measurement for learning within qualifications is introduced, and an illustrative example is presented to show the C21 skills taxonomy in action. The paper concludes with a discussion of how such a taxonomy can also be used to support a microcredentialing framework that aligns to existing competency frameworks, enabling formal, non-formal and informal learning to all be recognized. A C21 Skills taxonomy can therefore be used to bridge the gap between capability (input) and competency (output), providing a common language both for learning and demonstrating a skill. This approach has profound implications for addressing current and future skills gaps as well as for supporting a transition to more personalised learning within schools, colleges and universities and more lifelong learning both during and outside of employment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2021 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON)
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781728184784
ISBN (Print)9781728184791
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event2021 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON) - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 21 Apr 202123 Apr 2021

Publication series

NameIEEE Global Engineering Education Conference
ISSN (Electronic)2165-9567


Conference2021 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON)
Abbreviated titleEDUCON


  • Current measurement
  • Conferences
  • Taxonomy
  • Employment
  • Europe
  • Accreditation
  • Engineering education


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