IYS Skills and Occupations Taxonomy (ISOT)

is a smart database of skills and occupations,

enabling rich skills mapping of people and jobs

Get a quick glimpse of IYS Skills and Occupation Taxonomy in this video clip

Why a Skills Taxonomy?

1. Skills form an important dataset that helps in recruitment, talent development and talent management

2. The way skills are expressed and used today is very haphazard and confusing leading to inefficiencies in recruitment, talent development and talent management

3. A standardization or normalization of terms in skills will be useful but is not available

4. A geographical map serves several purposes including knowing where we are, what are the things that are nearby, how do we get from one place to another and so on. Likewise a skills taxonomy helps in understanding the landscape of skills well and several purposes related to skills.

Challenges with Skills and Occupations Taxonomy

There are different databases in different functions or industries. The dataset of geos i.e. maps, Master Data of materials in Materials Management, Supply and others, Taxonomy of animals and plants in Biology, and so on

Skills is however quite a challenging area for several reasons. Here are two of them:

1. There is no set pattern of structure that can be applied to whole landscape. We don't have the benefit of a structure like Country >> State >> Cities and so on in Skills.

2. Skills space is open ended, very vast, cuts across many disciplines and constantly evolving

IYS Skills and Occupations Taxonomy

IYS has spent over eight years researching the skills landscape, studying people profiles and jobs in multiple disciplines, functions and industries to one, create a construct of data on skills and two, curate and organize the skills.

The construct of ISOT has evolved beautifully during this period of research and development to one where it caters to different complexities of the skills landscape, will scale vertically and horizontally with time and ensure that the user is able to garner insights with ease (without getting lost into complexities)

Features of IYS Skills and Occupations Taxonomy (ISOT)

Wide Coverage

ISOT as on July 2021 covers 34 high level categories and over 100,000 skills or terms.


Terms cover different aspects of skills including Functional / Technical Skills, Soft Skills, Activities, Certifications, Knowledge, Domain and Roles

A common framework - contextualized

When organizing skills in areas or functions or categories a broad level framework is used. For any function, role or occupation typically we would want to understand the above dimensions.

But this cannot be strictly applied in all cases of categories, functions and occupations. In some cases some dimension(s) may not be relevant. Surely the terminologies of these dimensions vary.

Three Layered structure

Terms are organized at three levels. At Layer 1 terms are aggregated, normalized for spelling differences, acronyms and synonyms

At Layer 2, terms are grouped together based on their similarity

At Layer 3, terms and groups of terms are connected or associated with each other

Three types of Associations

One, where terms or group of terms are associated as children under a node

Two, where terms or groups of terms are associated as surrogate children from another branch

Three, terms or groups of terms are associated as relatives.

The three types are also indicative of the closeness of relevance to terms

Thus we have both, a hierarchical construct as well as a graphical construct in the taxonomy

Proxy Names

Sometimes the way a term is referred to within the tree structure can be different from the way one would search for the term. For example, within a tree we may have “Speaking Language” as parent and languages like English, Hindi, French as its children. However in search we would include Speaking English, Speaking Hindi, Speaking French as the search phrases. We call these Proxy terms.

One to many relationships

The corollary of the above is that there can be one to many relationships. A skill or a group of skills can be associated with one or more branches. This is reflective of the skills landscape as it is. An Electrician and his activities could be part of a tree or Engineering or Skills Trade. But then when we are in say Oil & Gas we could have occupations of Electrician. But the activities and skills are almost similar in both.

This in fact is the beauty of the skills space. Skills given their contextual alignment bring enormous possibilities for deployment of human talent. Seen from another angle such multi-contextual application is complex when it comes to organizing skills.


Not all the terms within ISOT is searchable so as to ensure smoothness in search or better discoverability

Proficiency Rating

Proficiencies are a an important measure when it comes to skills. IYS uses a four point scale for indicating proficiencies. And the proficiencies vary based on the nature of the skill. For example domain experience is better differentiated based on years of experience. Whereas for Programming overall years of experience itself may not be a good measure.


Skills are tagged so that different type of properties can be assigned to a group of skills with similar behavior and classified under a tag.


In ISOT different roles are assigned to different Areas. For example, in Software Development we may have roles such as Development, Architecting and Project Management. Activities performed in these roles are different. Also the soft skills required for these roles are different.

ISOT recommends soft skills that could be relevant if one is playing that role.

Note: Titles are not same as Roles. Titles are typically indicative of function and position in an organization hierarchy. Roles are typically centered around skills required for the role. We could have a Title of Software Developer but multiple roles within this such as Web Developer, Blockchain Developer

Ordering of skills

A group of skills under a node can be ordered in different areas. The ordering can vary based on context. In some cases we may want the order to be Alphabetical and in some cases based on popularity


ISOT is modeled in such a way that the taxonomy can be scaled seamlessly horizontally and vertically. And gives flexibility to accommodate changes or edits to existing constructs and not just new constructs

The design also gives room to accommodate specific requirements of organizations to add skills specific to their organizations and to be visible only to that organization.

See a detailed video of ISOT here

Develop your skills based application with ISOT API.

Constant Updation of ISOT

Changes in technologies and businesses models are constant learning to emergence of new skills and occupations. IYS is focused on keeping track of these changes and updating ISOT regularly.

ISOT has adopted a HIML - Human Intelligence backed by Machine Intelligence process for making updates on new skills. Machine Intelligence helps in curation of, cleaning of, and getting signals from data. But then IYS has built understanding of the skills landscape which in turn helps in adding skills to ISOT.

ISOT has adopted a three prong approach to curating skills.

Software Tools

The new information from multiple sources like job boards is aggregated using proprietary tools using NLP and Machine Learning. Then these inputs are further analyzed for either to be included or better organized in the taxonomy.

Secondary Research and SMEs

IYS has spent years making sense of the skills landscape and their nuances in different areas. And then get rich insights with the help of subject matter experts in the specific domain.

User Contribution

ISOT has become even more robust from inputs from our existing users. We take ongoing feedback on the application, governance, and improvements to make it even more potent.