January 10, 2024 – Future of Work

In case you missed it: Jeff Selingo on how employers can develop talent by focusing on contribution mindset and skills-based hiring


Skills-based hiring — relying on applicants’ aptitudes and experience to determine whether they are a good fit for a job — is gaining popularity since it helps employers move past the antiquated system of evaluating talent based on degrees and toward a culture that treats applicants as individuals with unique potential and ability to contribute. 

To expand this movement from the bottom up and unlock the potential of more learners, employers cannot act in isolation. In a Charles Koch Foundation (CKF)-sponsored webinar, journalist and author Jeff Selingo and four panelists discuss how to create an ecosystem that will help employers scale practices that base hiring on who someone is and how they could offer value. 

To help unlock individual potential, employers must be proactive

Freelance journalist Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza believes employers need to be proactive in finding non-degree holders. 

“They [employers] can start an apprenticeship program, they can recruit from new talent pools like community colleges, training programs, boot camps,” McCrary-Ruiz-Garza says. “Further, don’t assume just by removing mention of a four-year degree from a job posting that new candidates will just begin to file in. It needs to be explicitly stated in the job description that a four-year degree is not required.” 

IBM is one of the companies that has been proactive in its approach.

Vice President for Growth and Development Kelli Jordan tells Selingo how IBM partners with local high schools and community colleges to help students earn both their high school degree and a community college degree free of charge while gaining real-life experience, industry mentorship, and internships. Jordan notes IBM also has developed free programs to help 30 million learners acquire new, marketable skills. 

Community partners can help employers find applicants eager to contribute

Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN) brings together a host of stakeholders — educators, employers, community partners, and learners — to create a skills-based ecosystem. 

“When it comes to how we support rethinking hiring for jobs, we really talk a lot with our partners about what are those skills and competencies? How are you going to measure and assess those? What are the kinds of supports and learning experiences, whether you’re a learning provider or an employer, that you’re going to provide that allow someone to demonstrate those skills,” C-BEN President and CEO Lisa McIntyre-Hite tells Selingo. “We also do a lot of work with government systems and policy organizations to really understand how to create the right structures and systems that allow for these kinds of solutions to be successful.”

Paul Fain, editor of “The Job” newsletter, says the infrastructure for enabling skills-based hiring is growing rapidly. In addition to working with local education providers and community partners, businesses have partnered with state governments in places like Arkansas, Colorado, and Montana to create learning and employment records or validated credential systems that employers can rely on to find skilled talent. (Click here to learn more about learning and employment records.) 

With a proliferation of resources and partners who can shift hiring practices, employers simply need to tap into them to fully transform their workforces. Listen to the full conversation for more advice.