February 13, 2023 – Future of Work

In case you missed it: Ryan Stowers on unlocking passion and purpose 


Over the last several months, major U.S. companies, state employers like Pennsylvania, and even the Cleveland Clinic (which is one of the country’s premier academic medical centers), have ended the college degree requirement for most jobs. And, as U.S. News & World Report noted last week, the Office of Personnel Management has said federal government agencies should use “skills-based” evaluations for internships, apprenticeships, and fellowships.  

This move toward skills versus degrees is groundbreaking and will make it possible for Americans who already have the needed training and experience to fill millions of jobs. 

But there is an opportunity for this shift to go much further, and that is this kind of change that our society ultimately needs. 

In a The Salt Lake Tribune op-ed published on Feb. 3, Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) Executive Director Ryan Stowers said, “Eliminating degree requirements is courageous and important, and we cannot stop there. We need a comprehensive rethinking of our school-to-work pathway, a culture shift that recognizes skills attainment is part of a larger mission: to help each person find their purpose and unlock their unique potential.” 

In a Feb. 7 New York Times letter to the editor, Stowers said this revolution will address the burnout and anxiety many Americans feel at work. “One reason that many U.S. workers are unhappy is our education-to-work system doesn’t help identify an individual’s passions and aptitudes and then provide that person with skills-building options that match who they are,” Stowers explained.  

Stowers highlighted programs like the Catalyze Challenge, which has awarded $10 million to 50 winners that will pilot, launch, and scale solutions to help people discover meaningful careers and build skills to do work they love. Winners include Builders and Backers, which helps underrepresented entrepreneurs gain the experience they need to pursue their ideas, and the Ella Baker Institute, which positions young people to identify community challenges they care about and develop solutions to them. 

CKF is proud to support social entrepreneurs who develop solutions that help more Americans identify their unique aptitudes, purpose, and passion. Read more about our work here. Read Stowers’ full op-ed here and his letter to the editor here