Towards a 21st Century Personalised Learning Skills Taxonomy

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

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


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
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Feb 2021
EventEDUCON 2021 - IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference: Women in Engineering - Virtual Online, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 21 Apr 202123 Apr 2021


ConferenceEDUCON 2021 - IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference
Abbreviated titleEDUCON 2021
Internet address


  • Personalised Learning
  • Skills Taxonomy
  • Micro-credential
  • Framework
  • Accreditation


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