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August 26, 2021


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Skills-based hiring and workforce education: Essentials for a talent-based ecosystem

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Skills-based hiring and workforce education. These two powerful practices are gaining momentum separately and when strategically aligned are part of a modern talent-based ecosystem that delivers value to both employers and their team members.

Skills-based hiring is a method for acquiring talent based on candidates’ skills and competencies, in addition to potential. Not only is this approach an efficient way for employers to screen for qualified candidates, but it also benefits job-seekers. Applicants have more ways to communicate and demonstrate to the employer that they have the knowledge and behaviors required to be successful on the job. 

In HR, it used to be that you defined the role, set the compensation and found people who fit the role. That system has changed, and today, we’re in a talent-based ecosystem.” explains David Windley, President of IQTalent Partners, Inc. “You can train a candidate to learn skill sets and gain experience. Instead of defining the skills needed to complete tasks, we look for the core competencies that we want in employees and go from there.

Enter workforce education. Once hired, it’s critical to continue developing and enhancing your people’s skills. With a strategically designed workforce education program, corporations are enabled to achieve business growth and deliver social impact through quality online education for their employees.  


Why skills-based hiring and workforce education build the strongest teams

In the past year, LinkedIn has seen a 21 percent increase in job postings advertising specific skills and responsibilities as opposed to only qualifications and requirements, and the number of positions that don’t require a degree increased by nearly 40 percent in 2020 compared to the year before.

The rise in skills-based hiring does not diminish the value of degrees, which are still important for career advancement. In fact, the social and economic benefits of higher education are well-documented. They include higher earnings, increased social mobility and stronger health outcomes. 

Statistics show that $2,268,000 is the lifetime earnings for a bachelor’s degree and $1,304,000 is the lifetime earnings for a high school diploma — that’s a $1 million difference in lifetime earnings between these two credentials. Based on these figures, consider the additional impact on a family and a community where more employees are able to achieve that same level of income growth.


lifetime earnings by highest education attainment


Here are three ways skills-based hiring and workforce education are a significant combination, paving the way for a modern talent ecosystem that gives you more impact.


Benefit #1: Provides access to a wider, more diverse talent pool and encourages a more equitable workplace

A hiring process that heavily focuses on certain types of education or experience can result in a homogenous workforce, ​​as people from underrepresented groups often lack access to quality education. Removing traditional requirements from job applications while evaluating new hires based on their skill sets, can remove bias from the hiring process — empowering companies to tap into a wider, more diverse pool of qualified talent.

However, just attracting diverse talent isn’t enough. Companies also need to ensure they have an inclusive culture that promotes learning and a commitment to employees’ ongoing career growth. This is why a workforce education program is an important element that allows employees to progress forward with the organization, while advancing a company’s overall diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy.



Benefit #2: Strengthens employee engagement and retention

A skills-based approach to hiring can help improve your company’s employee engagement and retention rates. But that alone won’t guarantee that an employee will stick around. 

Organizations need to go the extra mile and put the right workforce education programs in place that allow employees (both with and without degrees) to pursue ongoing education and skills development. As LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report showed, 94 percent of employees said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career. Additionally, employees who see good opportunities to learn and grow are 2.9 times more likely to be engaged.



Benefit #3: Gain a competitive advantage with better business agility

By focusing on skills-based practices employers can increase the size of their talent pools, allowing them to pinpoint quality applicants for hard-to-fill roles. From there, it’s crucial to keep employees and the company ready to adapt to changing industry demands by fostering a culture of continuous learning that includes workforce education.

For example, employers can integrate degree completion into existing learning programs. Career education paths are especially effective when they align with specific roles, remove financial barriers and help employee learners avoid costly missteps that don’t ultimately help their careers (like choosing the wrong degree or certificate program).

The desire to learn exists, with 97 percent of employees expressing interest to expand or at least continue the amount of time they spend learning. What’s more, opportunities for acquiring new skills and career progression through workforce education have emerged as strong drivers of talent management that builds future-ready organizations.


Best of both

Organizations don’t have to choose between skills-based or degrees-based practices. Taken together, you can achieve more impact and get closer to your business goals. With a modern talent-based ecosystem, you hire based on skills and competencies, then equip your people with the academic portion through a strategic workforce education program.

Learn more about the power of workforce education by downloading this report to access the latest industry data, 5 new insights leaders use to inform workforce education in 2021.