MYSKILLS – Identifying professional competencies

The goal of the project is to improve the assessment of the non-formally acquired vocational skills of refugees and low-skilled workers. For this purpose, computer-based competence tests were developed for 30 professions.

The MYSKILLS project at DIPF was initially part of the structural project "MYSKILLS – Berufliche Kompetenzen erkennen” (Recognizing Vocational Competencies) of the German Federal Employment Agency in cooperation with the Forschungsinstitut Betriebliche Bildung (f-bb) and the Bertelsmann Foundation. The aim was the development and quality assurance of instruments for the valid measurement of vocational competencies of formally low qualified persons. After the successful test construction, the project is dedicated to the practical implementation of the MYSKILLS tests and the further technical development of the system. From 2017 to 2022, the MYSKILLS tests were in use at the German Federal Employment Agency. Since 2020, MYSKILLS tests have also been implemented at the Employment Office of the German-speaking Community of Belgium (ADG). Since spring 2022, the DIPF and the Bertelsmann Foundation have been testing the use of MYSKILLS at educational institutions in Germany and internationally.

A large proportion of refugees, migrants and formally low-skilled people find it difficult to access the German labor market due to a lack of recognized professional qualifications. In addition, there is currently no standardized instrument for measuring informally acquired skills for occupational activities that are in demand on the labor market. The Federal Employment Agency, together with the Bertelsmann Foundation and the f-bb, developed a concept to better measure non-formally acquired competencies and thus use them for placement in training or employment. Instruments for the valid measurement of relevant competencies were developed in 30 professions, empirically tested and then compiled into finished tests.

The unique feature of MYSKILLS tests is that the tasks are set in the same manner as work assignments in a company: During the four-hour tests, the participants are presented with typical work situations of an occupation through image- and video-based question formats and can test their skills. The results provide information about which aspects of the tested occupation the participants are already familiar with and in which areas they can be employed. The participants receive a result certificate with which they can prove their skills.

These occupational tests were first translated from German into 5 languages and later into 6 other languages, so that the tests are currently available in 12 languages.

Psychometric  Quality Assurance

The process of test construction was scientifically accompanied by the DIPF in order to ensure an adequate quality of the test procedures with regard to various psychometric quality criteria. This psychometric quality assurance was based on Item Response Theory (IRT) models. The focus of the findings was on the model fit of the test scales and items. They were used to revise the test procedures and allowed a summary quality assessment of the developed scales with regard to their suitability for use in practice.

Technical Realization                                                        

The TBA center is responsible for the complete technical implementation of the MYSKILLS tests as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Specifically, TBA performed the computerization of all tasks and their translations and is responsible for the online delivery of the competency tests, hosting and support. Additionally, the TBA team provides content support, primarily with psychometric consulting and process development. For the decentralized use at different educational agencies and in an international context, the MYSKILLS team of the TBA center coordinates the continuous software development. The first results at the educational agencies are promising: not only are the educational agencies using MYSKILLS accurately and successfully for their clients, but also with a slowly increasing frequency (see also the blog Education and Training).


Funding: Bertelsmann Foundation, ADG

Duration: 11/2016 - 12/2024

Status: ongoing

Project management: Frank Goldhammer, Britta Upsing, Daniel Schiffner

Project team: Lothar Persic-Beck, Mahtab Dalir, Dennis Grund, Dennis Kasch, Barbara Persch, Heather S. B. Wehner

Contact: Britta Upsing