Skills-based Background vs. Educational Attainment

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Skills-based Background vs. Educational Attainment: How Developing Skills Play into Employability

Many go to colleges and some even aim for higher education, but how useful is it really within the job force? Educational attainment does not always guarantee higher wage and secure employment.

As the job market becomes more competitive overtime, an employee’s trainability and willingness to learn is what gives him an edge. Talent shortage is one of the leading problems in the hiring market according to a report by Manpower Group—proof that one’s skills, whether acquired through university or adapted and enhanced over the years, are the priority of today’s employers.

The skills-based hiring trend

A report published by Gartner shows a staggering result when it comes to skills development: 52% of respondents in the workforce feel the need to upskill. With how  digital innovations are pushing various industries forward, the ability to keep up and learn new trends and skills is essential to make an individual more competitive in the job market.

In 2017, 15% of IBM’s employees were not 4-year graduates, and some do not have any type of degree. Joana Daly, the company’s talent vice president, stated that she prefers to hire candidates to who have hands-on experience or were enrolled in vocational classes that pertain to the industry they have applied to.

IBM’s efforts to focus more on skills-based hiring is not just exclusive to their company. This all circles back to Gartner’s report showing why there are some employees who feel the need to upskill. Due to the lack of tech workers and experts, many companies in the technology sector are hiring candidates with unconventional backgrounds instead. In the same interview, they stated they mostly found success in finding professionals from coding bootcamps.

How small businesses can thrive with skills-based professionals

In the same interview with the IBM talent vice president, Daly said that extensive training and self-study shows initiative on the job finder’s part. Moreover, this shows determination to succeed and employees who are more likely to be productive.

Hiring talents whose profile are built on skills building can be the key to success for small business owners. Recent years highlighted the SMB sector’s struggle with hiring quality talent and according to this LinkedIn report, 75% of small businesses are unsure whether a candidate will succeed in a particular role.

There is a solution to this.  In the same study, LinkedIn recommends asking in-depth behavioral and situational questions. A candidate’s answers will usually hint on the hard and soft skills they have cultivated, regardless of if they had professional education on the role.

Furthermore, the skills small business owners look for in a candidate sometimes have nothing to do with their in-depth understanding of the field. Rather, they turn to the soft skills and attitude of the candidate. In a post made by ZipRecruiter, they stated that the top five most commonly listed skills are communication skills, scheduling, detail-oriented capabilities, computer literacy and customer service.

In conclusion, formal education may boost a candidate’s chances in the job market. However, it all boils down to one’s skills. Companies such as Apple, Google and IBM who have shifted their hiring process to screening skills-based profiles show how firms now prefer hands-on experience.

This latest recruitment trend can be something new for small businesses to consider. An individual’s willingness to learn can say a lot when it comes to their attitude and how they approach their work.

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