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No degree? No problem. Skills-based hiring is on the rise


There’s an old workplace adage, the origin of which has long been lost, where two executives are examining their company’s training budget. “Why are we spending all this money training our people,” one asks, “if they’re just going to up and leave six months or a year from now?” – “Maybe they will,” says the other. “But what if we don’t train them, and they stay?”

The point here is that training on the job has undeniable value, both to the company and the individual. The question is, whether in the current era, a formal university education has more value, or if any individual is wiser to get themselves into the workforce in their chosen field, by hook or by crook, and see where the road takes them. 

There was a time when applying for a role without the relevant qualification––usually a degree or better––was a waste of time. 

However, according to Byron Auguste, co-founder of nonprofit Opportunity@Work, modern sentiment among hiring managers and consultants is that if a potential employer makes this stipulation they are screening out an estimated three-fifths of their potential candidates without knowing anything about their real capabilities. 

Non-traditional skills

It is especially true in tech fields that an individual may have developed all of the requisite skills outside of traditional education. McKinsey calls this stream of workers STARs: skilled through alternative routes.

It adds that employers can expand and retain their talent pools through skill-based hiring, eschewing the expectation of a formal degree or qualification, moving beyond degrees and job titles on resumes to attract a broader and more diverse set of applicants. 

In 2021, IBM announced it was stripping a degree from more than half of its listings, and even The White House has adopted a skills-based approach when hiring IT professionals.

As a recruitment strategy, there is already evidence to suggest that skills-based hiring is paying off. According to a 2023 report, companies recruiting employees based on demonstrated skills as opposed to education or qualifications are seeing a dramatic improvement of their overall performances.

That is in addition to other key areas such as creating more diverse talent pools, an improvement in costs and turnaround time in the recruitment process, and better retention rates. In fact, the report reveals that 34% of workers without college degrees tend to stay in their jobs longer than those with degrees.

Part of the shift towards skills-based hiring is a realization among business leaders that each member of their team is an important piece of the puzzle for building the future of their business, not the past. 

Outside of tech and business, the societal benefits of skills-based hiring are also undeniable. A major study by Harvard Business Review explored the trend across a wide variety of sectors. 

It found that in recent decades, employers stipulating a degree as a strict requirement for a role, even if this level of education was not essential to performing that role, shut out millions of workers from roles they were perfectly capable of. 

As a result, the approach contributed to income inequality, with the report calling the current shift “the degree reset”. It predicts that skills-based hiring will assist in regrowing the post-pandemic economy, and cause employers to rethink their hiring preferences permanently.

So whether you can offer skills or experience, your next role is waiting to be discovered at the nextpit Job Board.

In Ottawa, IBM’s Resource on Demand Team is seeking an Enterprise Architect for a contract opportunity, where you will evaluate the enterprise’s business/IT architecture, determine its consistency and integration with the organization’s business/IT strategies, and assess the degree of its alignment with Treasury Board CIO Business Transformation Enablement Program (BTEP) and Federated Architecture Program (FAP), among other tasks. 

Cohere Technology Group provides software and systems design and engineering, concept development, and technical staffing solutions to the U.S. government, and is in the market for a Software Developer. In this role, you will support software architecture development as well as analysis, execution and evaluation of COTS/GOTS tools, and their integration with both new and legacy systems. Proficiency in multiple programming languages and platforms is essential for this role, so if you possess a broad range of skills this may be the challenge for you.

A Chicago-based global video streaming service is seeking a .NET Software Engineer to join its team to help deliver advanced social media marketing campaigns for customers worldwide. The successful candidate will aid in the development of revolutionary web-based software applications, while also benefiting from the company’s ambitious career progression program. A six-figure salary and significant benefits await you in this role.  

Start your job search today via the nextpit Job Board. This article was written by Doug Whelan.


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