Sydney Lewis Sydney Lewis
Senior Coordinator, Communications

Published

January 05, 2024

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From digital literacy, cultural competence, people skills in hybrid environments, and project management, new skills in the workforce marketplace emerge on what can appear to be a daily basis. USA Today recently hired the first dedicated Beyoncé Knowles-Carter reporter, but the question arises what additional attributes (beyond her stellar resume) and unique skills did Caché McClay have to be the perfect fit for the job?

Enter the emerging practice of skills-based hiring. Skills-based hiring and advancement is the practice of evaluating a candidate beyond education credentials (ex. degree, certifications, etc.) and experience requirements to assess a candidate’s unique skills, abilities and demonstrated competencies. This practice evaluates a candidate’s skills and abilities that may not be communicated through a traditional resume and allows for objective evaluations of a worker’s skillset, ensuring they are the best match for the role.

With new skills and market demands emerging for new roles, the need for skilled workers is greater than ever, but availability is in short supply. Consider this: there are currently 8.8 million job openings with only 6.3 million workers available to fill them. Even if every unemployed person in the U.S. found a job today, we'd still have vacancies equivalent to the populations of Denver, Austin, and San Diego combined, with more than three million positions remaining open. Without innovative talent acquisition and development strategies, our future prosperity and competitiveness is at risk.

Employers who adopt skills-based hiring practices are unlocking doors to economic mobility, particularly for individuals without traditional educational or career pathways. Skills-based hiring is mutually beneficial, fostering growth for both employers and job seekers.

We asked ten industry leaders about how they are embracing skills-based hiring practices, and how employers can join the movement to build a more robust talent pipeline. Learn more about their perspectives below:

Ben Wallerstein, CEO & Co-Founder, Whiteboard Advisors

“Hiring and compensating people based on their skills and experiences rather than their credentials or pedigree is as important as it is obvious – but it can be challenging to put into practice. Businesses that can figure out how to effectively hire and retain workers based on their actual skills will be able to tap into a larger talent pool and gain a competitive advantage.” 

Ben Wallerstein, CEO & Co-Founder, Whiteboard Advisors
Ben Wallerstein, CEO & Co-Founder, Whiteboard Advisors

Celeste Warren, Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence, Merck

“There is an overlooked segment of talent employers are excluding by ignoring the value their experiences and skills bring to the organization. It’s time we use more inclusive and transformative strategies to solve the workforce challenges we all face.”

Celeste Warren, Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence, Merck
Celeste Warren, Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence, Merck

Cheryl Oldham, SVP, Policy & Programs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

"If we want America to lead in the 21st century, nothing is more important than preparing our workforce for the skills they need today and tomorrow. For too long, we have relied on traditional methods to find and grow our talent. Now is the time to break with tradition and invest in ways that will move our talent and America forward. We are proud to work with business leaders across America to make skills-based hiring a reality in every corner of the nation.”        

Cheryl Oldham, SVP, Policy & Programs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Cheryl Oldham, SVP, Policy & Programs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Chike Aguh, Senior Advisor at Project on Workforce at Harvard University, Fmr. Chief Innovation Officer at U.S. Department of Labor

"From climate tech to infrastructure to semi-conductors, we have critical work that needs to get done and we have too many people in communities overlooked for too long who desperately need work.  We no longer have the luxury of placing artificial barriers between the two. We must hire people based on what they can do and what they can be.  Skills-based hiring is the right thing and the smart thing for American business and America as a whole. "

Chike Aguh, Senior Advisor at Project on Workforce at Harvard University, Fmr. Chief Innovation Officer at U.S. Department of Labor
Chike Aguh, Senior Advisor at Project on Workforce at Harvard University, Fmr. Chief Innovation Officer at U.S. Department of Labor

Fernando Rodriguez-Villa, Co-Founder & CEO, AdeptID

"The HR and learning systems we have today reflect the degrees-based, often exclusionary, mindset we've had when identifying and supporting talent. We have a unique opportunity for those tech systems to become skills-based. Pinpointing what it is about someone's experience and interests that makes them likely to succeed in a different role, even if they don't have the "right" degree or title - that's a task that predictive AI can help with!"

Fernando Rodriguez-Villa, Co-Founder & CEO, AdeptID
Fernando Rodriguez-Villa, Co-Founder & CEO, AdeptID

Marcus Bullock, CEO & Founder, Flikshop

"When I sat in cell C-12, I always knew that I wanted to add value to my community once I was released from prison. There were folks who slammed doors in my face because of my felony conviction when I searched for jobs, but finally a paint store gave me an opportunity and I eventually turned that opportunity into a thriving painting business. There is a ton of brilliance that comes from marginalized communities; we just need courageous social capital and access to help open the doors for us."

Marcus Bullock, CEO & Founder, Flikshop
Marcus Bullock, CEO & Founder, Flikshop

Matthew McGuire, Chief Business Officer, OneTen

“A skills-first approach to hiring, promotion and retention is a viable pathway for companies to access large pools of untapped, skilled talent and provide family-sustaining wages to those who have for far too long, been left on the sidelines."

Matthew McGuire, Chief Business Officer, OneTen
Matthew McGuire, Chief Business Officer, OneTen

Michael Hansen, Chief Executive Officer, Cengage

“Education is the surest path to opportunity, yet for too long we have relied on a one-size-fits-all model. We are building pathways that align an individual’s skills and competencies to industry demands, so learners can pursue meaningful careers and employers can find talent anywhere.”

Michael Hansen, Chief Executive Officer, Cengage
Michael Hansen, Chief Executive Officer, Cengage

Steven C. Preston & Manish Sharma

At the Chamber Foundation’s 2023 Talent Forward signature event, Manish and Steve announced the Goodwill Clean Tech Accelerator ™, a joint initiative addressing the growing demand for skilled clean energy workforce by equipping individuals from diverse backgrounds with requisite skills for in-demand, entry-level jobs.

"Through the Goodwill Clean Tech Accelerator, we're proud to unlock skilling opportunities that are accessible to everyone, benefitting workers, industry, and our local communities.” - Manish Sharma, CEO, Accenture North America

"As our labor market transitions, we see important opportunities for people to move into more promising roles with better pay. It is essential that we provide the training and other support needed to ensure people capture these opportunities." - Steven C. Preston, President and CEO, Goodwill Industries International

Steven C. Preston, President & CEO, Goodwill Industries, Intl. and Manish Sharma, CEO, Accenture North America
Steven C. Preston, President & CEO, Goodwill Industries, Intl. and Manish Sharma, CEO, Accenture North America

Learn more about Skills-Based Hiring and Advancement

About the authors

Sydney Lewis

Sydney Lewis

Sydney Lewis is senior communications coordinator for education, workforce and corporate citizenship at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

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