Labour market mismatch demands matching based on skills

Labour market developments are creating a mismatch between supply and demand. TNO wants to do something about this through various projects focusing on skills (knowledge, talents and qualities) instead of diplomas. This is because matching based on skills is the future and can help us to move towards a flexible labour market with equal opportunities.

Would you like to know more about what we do in relation to the skills-based labour market?

Please contact Joost van Genabeek


The labour market is changing rapidly. On one hand, sudden societal events are immediately noticeable on the labour market. The COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, has created a great need for extra healthcare workers. On the other hand, more sustainable technological, economic and demographic developments are creating growing contradictions in the­ labour market. Certain sectors, such as the financial and administrative sector, are shrinking while others are growing (ICT, construction, healthcare and education).

This results in mismatches between the qualifications of employees and the demands of employers. TNO intends to do something about this mismatch through the ‘House of Skills’ field lab, for example. House of Skills – in which companies, sector organisations, employees and employer organisations, knowledge institutions, education, municipalities and UWV all work together – focuses on an inclusive labour market. In doing so, it focuses not only on obtaining diplomas but also on acquiring, developing and utilising skills.


Matching based on skills instead of diplomas is the future

What exactly do we mean when we talk about skills? “By skills, we mean the knowledge, talents and qualities of individuals that enable them to successfully carry out their work tasks and roles under constantly changing circumstances, to be innovative while doing so and to remain employable throughout their lives” (TNO employee Paul Preenen, 2019). It is therefore broader than the ‘21st century skills’ and is also related to work.

How do we ensure that people and organisations are well-prepared for the labour market and the work of the future? TNO wants to strengthen the adaptability of people and organisations so that they can prepare themselves better and can respond proactively to the changing labour situation. This means looking at the impact of technology on work.

Which technologies are expected to be applied in the near future? And how does this fit in with the skills and needs of employees? The impact of technology goes beyond organisational boundaries, and people no longer work for one organisation for their entire career.

For this reason, we also contribute to regional partnerships in order to improve the connection between education and the labour market and to stimulate intersectoral mobility. We do this, for example, in the Amsterdam metropolitan area via House of Skills.


House of Skills experiments with recruitment, assessment, training and matching based on skills. This is done through the development and application of innovative approaches and the setting up of a digital platform (myhouseofskills) through which­ employers and employees can find one another.

At ‘De Werkvloer’ in the Amsterdam Public Library, employees and jobseekers can find free career advice and information on jobs and training opportunities. Around sixty companies are currently participating in House of Skills. TNO is an innovation partner of House of Skills and coordinates the Matching work package in which experiments with innovative approaches are carried out.

“Jobseekers are not yet sufficiently making the transition to jobs in other sectors, while there are many redundancies in some sectors and a shortage of personnel in others. We’re turning the current way of matching upside down by looking at people’s skills and not at job or training requirements. The result is that jobseekers discover that there are ­all kinds of jobs they can fill because they have the skills to do them, even though they often don’t have the required qualifications,” explains TNO employee Joost van Genabeek.


Within House of Skills, TNO has developed ‘The Fitting Room’. Jobseekers can use this digital tool to draw up a personal skills profile and see which jobs or positions they fit in well with. In turn, employers can indicate how important certain skills are for the jobs for which they are seeking personnel. This can lead to surprising combinations.

The Fitting Room offers jobseekers insights into which jobs match their skills and where their learning opportunities lie. At the same time, the Fitting Room helps companies to find motivated people who fit well with their vacancies. The Fitting Room can be consulted on the website of House of Skills or at one of the information kiosks at De Werkvloer in the Amsterdam Public Library.

About 500 jobseekers have now been guided by House of Skills to a job in another sector in the metropolitan area of­ Amsterdam. Ultimately, the goal is for jobseekers’ talents to end up­ in a skills passport with which they can apply for jobs. We also want to roll out House of Skills nationwide.


TNO is collaborating with CBS, CPB and UWV on the development of a uniform skills language or ontology. This will make it possible to clarify the meaning of skills for work in different sectors on the basis of various international skills classifications or taxonomies.

In order to make the skills ontology adaptive to changes in the labour market, we will analyse existing vacancies using word embedding techniques in order to determine which skills and qualities are actually required. In order to determine the quality of the vacancy descriptions, we will train an artificial classifier to give a so-called vacancy score. This vacancy score expresses the quality of a vacancy (the right skills and qualities are given) and indicates the extent to which it contains bias, such as descriptions that discriminate according to sex, background, race or age.

This creates a dynamic skills ontology for the Dutch labour market. “The methods we use for this are pioneering and there is now a great deal of interest in them at home and abroad. Through our various projects, we contribute in the role of developer, connector and expert in order to solve current and future mismatches on the labour market,” Van Genabeek emphasises.

Would you like to know more about what we do in relation to the skills-based labour market? Would you like to know more about House of Skills and/or work with us? Please get in touch.