As the debate about automation, technology and the future of work rages on ― and with 5.8 million jobs open in the United States, including 700,000 in Information Technology professions alone, the reality is the majority of qualified workers are being overlooked, prompting companies to create multiple pathways to training and employment based on the assessment of competencies and skills.
The hiring mindset needs to focus on a skill-based economy, and while it’s critically important that people have the opportunity to learn new skills and find jobs that match them, equally important is training companies to hire people based on those skills, rather than just a resumé. While many companies are struggling to fill open tech positions and competing with other companies for what seems to be a too-small pool of qualified applicants, their hiring processes filter out candidates that don’t meet a certain rigid profile for a given job – a profile that is often outdated and out of touch in today’s workforce.
For example, many human resources departments simply filter out engineers who do not have a bachelor’s degree, which makes it impossible for those who have a coding boot camp certificate – and are fully prepared to handle the workload of an entry-level position – to be considered for the position.
“Employers reliance on degrees and other proxies for pedigree in the hiring process is not only hampering economic growth, it is destroying the American Dream for too many job seekers,” says Ryan Craig, author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education and co-founder of University Ventures. “The shift towards competency-based hiring has massive potential to unlock economic opportunity, but it requires unprecedented cooperation among educators and employers.”
Google recently announced its philanthropic arm, Google.org, is donating $50 million to create opportunities for Americans previously shut out of the tech sector with good jobs and careers. Google.org supports organizations that use technology and innovation to power an economy in which more people have an opportunity to thrive. Over the next two years the goal is to prepare workers for a 21st century job market that’s being dramatically reshaped by powerful forces, including Google itself.
Google is committed to funding innovative nonprofits using technology to train workers in new skills, connect job seekers with open positions and provide support for low-wage service workers. Nonprofits receiving grants from Google.org will also receive volunteer help from Google employees.
With more big shifts coming as the labor force shrinks, globalization spreads and automation increases, Google.org plans to invest $2 million into research on the future of work to better understand how technology can help workers prepare for new jobs, opportunities and industries, according to Jacquelline Fuller, president of Google.org.
The investments aim to “provide training that’s really delivering the skill set that actually lead to today’s jobs and tomorrow’s jobs,” Fuller said.
Other organizations like Opportunity@Work, Innovate + Educate, Year Up, and Hope Street Group are finding ways to overcome the obstacles that put more emphasis on a potential candidate’s degree rather than their skills, offering innovative ways for job seekers to prove to employers they are qualified and capable for the job at hand.
In order for our economy to grow sustainably and inclusively, the hiring mindset needs to support a skills-based economy and open the door for capable candidates into the high tech labor force and connect skilled workers of all backgrounds with companies looking to hire.