Hiring managers rank skills over degrees, report finds

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- Posted
February 11, 2020

Dive Brief:

  • Hiring managers in a Feb. 4 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report said skills are more important than degrees and that job requirements need to be re-evaluated.
  • The report, "Hiring in the Modern Talent Marketplace," revealed that the 500 hiring decision-makers polled value working with higher education to ensure that what's taught in school aligns with the labor economy's needs. Acknowledging the skills shortage as a hiring challenge, the respondents identified their top three goals in 2020 as retaining more talent (41%), recruiting top talent (35%), and reducing time to hire (26%).
  • While 74% of respondents said their organizations incorporate credentials in job requirements, only a quarter said they use credentials to assess candidates. The report recommended possible solutions for fixing the talent shortage: increase upskilling of current employees; partner with educational programs, like local secondary schools; and better align academic curricula with the skills the workforce needs.

Dive Insight:

Research that ​data and analytics firm Qlik conducted on behalf of the Data Literacy Project came to the same conclusion as the chamber's report; 60% of Qlik's respondents said skills and experience are weightier than degrees in vetting STEM candidates. Only 18% of respondents gave degrees more weight in hiring.

In an era of talent shortages, requiring skills and experience over academic credentials means HR leaders may need to include training and upskilling in their plans to build and maintain a dynamic workforce for the future. A Gartner report concluded that with automation and digitalization rapidly changing skills requirements, HR professionals need to focus on skills development.

Researchers at MIT's Task Force on the Work of the Future said this can't be employers' sole focus; they concluded that just improving skills isn't enough to deal with the challenges automation presents. They argued that while the elimination of jobs by automation and digitization is exaggerated, the changes the technologies bring contribute to polarization between highly skilled and low-skilled workers and that, as a result, policies will be needed to build better careers to share in the prosperity.