There is no doubt that this thing seems a bit overwhelming. Yet, I would contend that it is the opposite of the long-standing "easy to learn, difficult to master" approach to game design. I hated it at first, having no idea which direction would be beneficial to my party. So, I did nothing. I hoarded my License points until I had over a thousand points per character, spending points only on occasion to open up a weapon or armor license in order to upgrade my party members.
So the board works as follows: each character begins with a few units of the license board already purchased. This provides for them their starting skills and weapon proficiencies. The frustrating part is that you can't see what any given license square will grant you unless you purchase a license that is next to it. This makes it impossible to work toward any specific long term goal for your character build.
I question the intention of the developers in making the license board needlessly abstruse. It doesn't add any enjoyment to not see what your characters might become. The board itself is little more than a variation of the Western RPG-style skill tree, which generally allows you to see the sorts of crazy skills and abilities your late-game characters might acquire.
Eventually, I did the smart thing and took to the internet for some guidance. That's when I noticed that lower, left section of the upper board is an area loaded with passive boosts. My favorite! I went on a shopping spree, and it's been smooth sailing ever since.
As of today, I've just made it out of the Draklor Laboratory, and my party seems sufficiently powerful.