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Skills over degrees: Are the days of the degree numbered?

There has been a tectonic shift in hiring patterns over the last few years. Skills-based hiring is challenging – and taking over – traditional academic qualification-centric hiring practices.

Corporate giants like Google and IBM are among the 76% of employers now using this approach to find new hires. 

The shift is also reshaping the ‘must-haves’ in job descriptions, reflecting the changing needs of the job market. LinkedIn reports a 21% increase in organizations listing skills and responsibilities instead of “requirements.” 

This talent acquisition strategy emphasizes skills, abilities, and competencies over academic degrees, triggering the question: Are the days of the degree over?

Shifting away from prioritizing degrees has opened doors for employers to access the best talent in local markets worldwide. 

We’ve reviewed the implications of skills-based hiring, how to get started, and the global employment tool that helps pull it together.

Here’s what we found.

Skills over degrees: A changing landscape

Moving toward skills-based hiring enables employers to build more agile, diverse, and high-performing teams, says Mckinsey. By actively seeking the skills necessary to achieve your company goals and fill skills gaps, you can better align your global recruitment efforts with your company’s vision.

Prioritizing skills empowers you to respond swiftly to market and industry changes. You can identify and mobilize talent with the specific abilities required to address emerging shifts.

Whereas in traditional job-based hiring where you hire based on experience and academic credentials, there’s every chance you’ll still have to train them on the skills vital to the business.

Why skills are better indicators of performance

Indeed, as industries evolve and job roles become increasingly specialized, there is a growing recognition that academic accomplishments may not be the best predictors of a candidate’s success.

According to McKinsey, skills, abilities, and competencies are five times more indicative of high performance than degrees. These qualities reflect an individual’s capacity to perform specific tasks, solve complex problems, and adapt to changing circumstances.

It’s like getting a snapshot of the candidate’s aptitude to thrive and adjust in a fast-paced work environment. In fact, our President of Field Operations, Amritpal Singh, says the global talent of tomorrow only needs two particular hard and soft skills: fluency in English and resilience.

English is the language of business, and having fluent employees gives you access to new international partners, clients, and opportunities. Resilience allows failure to be wielded as a teachable moment instead of an obstacle or employee’s shortcoming.

This mindset facilitates more growth and positions skills and abilities as more meaningful indicators of performance.

Are the days of degrees really coming to an end?

While skills-based hiring is reshaping recruitment practices, we can’t say that degrees will never be in demand again. Professions in medicine, law, engineering, and the sciences will likely continue to necessitate formal education.

However, if certain positions in your business don’t require a degree, you could miss out on quality talent. Some individuals possess exceptional skills and expertise without stepping into a college classroom.

It’s beneficial for you to be open to hiring individuals who gained their skills through alternative pathways.

Shifting toward skills-based hiring

Before adopting skills-based hiring, consider conducting a skills audit. This involves assessing the skills and capabilities already within your organization. Through interviews, performance evaluations, and self-assessments, you may discover employees with skills you didn’t know they had.

A skills audit also provides valuable insights into the skills you lack but are necessary to achieve company goals and expand into new territories. This initial step allows you to align your workforce with your current and future business needs.

Next, you’ll want to revise your job descriptions to emphasize the necessary skills and competencies rather than education requirements. Articulate the skill set for each role and include the hard and soft skills that coincide with what you’re looking for.

Tools to help you transition

Employer of Record (EOR) platforms are impactful global employment tools that help you implement your skills-based strategy internationally. Finding candidates with the right skills instead of qualifications may require casting a wider net. An EOR can assist you with hiring new talent no matter where they are based.

Another important tool is learning and development software. This is beneficial when transitioning to skills-based hiring, as it permits your multinational teams to reskill and stay up-to-date in their field–another safeguard to assure their skills are aligned with evolving business and industry trends and advancements.

Focus on skills for dynamic, diverse, and high-performing workforces

Employers who embrace the shift toward skills-based hiring stand to benefit from a dynamic, diverse, and high-performing workforce. With that in place, you’re enabled to drive innovation and adapt to the ever-evolving demands of the global marketplace.

Degrees may not disappear entirely, but upholding their value over skill can weaken the effectiveness of your cross-border talent acquisition strategy. Instead, be open-minded to individuals with nontraditional education.

Of course, when looking talent based on skills rather than their diploma or where they acquired their abilities, you’ll often be searching outside your current location. Good thing that Multiplier is here to give you access to global talent, wherever it might be. Speak to one of our experts to learn how we can support your international hiring goals.

Will Smith
Will Smith

Content Writer

Will is a Content Writer at Multiplier. With a background in technology journalism, he is passionate about busting jargon, getting to the heart of complex topics, and writing pieces you'll enjoy reading.

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Employ the best person for job, regardless of location

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