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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

What skills does a web developer need? What about a truck mechanic?

What does it take to be a web developer or a truck mechanic or a personal-care assistant? Texas State Technical College has built a free, artificially intelligent job-skills machine that can read a jargon-filled job description and turn it into a list of skills, reports Rebecca Koenig on EdSurge.

To gather information for skills profiles, SkillsEngine asks users to rate activities for various occupations. For a personal-care assistant job, for example, is "manage clinical case records" a critical, important, beneficial or irrelevant skill? "The idea is that knowing which skills really matter — which are “critical” or “important” instead of merely “beneficial” — can help hiring managers and educators prioritize what to look for and what to teach," she writes.

For example, Texas State Tech realized its associate degree program in web development was wasting students' time with three semesters of copyright law classes. Employers didn't value it very much. Now copyright law is a module.

“The greatest injustice to a program like that — one lacking market relevance — is it’s an impediment to the students’ employability,” said Michael Bettersworth, a vice chancellor and chief innovation officer at the college. “You’re wasting a person’s time, precious time, money, their hope, in taking a curriculum that may have been relevant 10 years ago but isn’t today.”

Tailoring job requirements to relevant skills makes the job market a lot fairer. But measuring mastery of skills can be tricky.

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