#HRTechChat: Navigating the Talent Shortage: A Creative Approach to Skills-Based Hiring

Businesses face a growing challenge: the talent shortage. The traditional ways of recruiting and hiring no longer suffice in a world where the working-age population is shrinking, and the gap between available talent and job openings is widening. To shed light on this issue, we turn to recent research from the Burning Glass Institute and a fascinating conversation with Pamela Stroko about innovative solutions. Here are some of the main themes of our conversation:

The Shrinking Workforce
The working-age population has been steadily declining, with little to no growth. Starting in 2012, we witnessed a meager 0.5% growth in the working-age population, and this rate slowed to 0.2% from 2017 onwards. This trend is expected to persist until at least 2030, painting a grim picture of a workforce unable to keep up with demand. One major contributor to this trend is the impending retirement of baby boomers, leaving a void that the younger generation can’t readily fill.

A New Perspective on Age and Experience
Surprisingly, the fastest-growing segment of the workforce is aged 65 and over. The idea that people retire at 65 is no longer accurate. Many are willing and able to continue working, and they bring immense value to organizations. These experienced workers exhibit higher loyalty, commitment, productivity, fewer sick days, and lower healthcare costs. It’s a win-win situation for both employees and employers.

Skills-Based Hiring: The Need of the Hour
Given the grim demographic outlook, traditional hiring practices won’t solve the talent shortage anytime soon. A shift towards skills-based hiring is imperative. Rather than relying on generic job descriptions, organizations must focus on the specific skills required to perform tasks and achieve desired outcomes.

Creating a Skills-Based Organization
To adopt skills-based hiring, companies should start internally by rewriting job descriptions. Instead of merely specifying job titles, describe the tasks and skills needed to excel in those roles. This shift can be a transformative process for many organizations, but it’s a crucial step towards addressing the talent shortage.

The Cleveland Clinic and OneTen Partnership
The Cleveland Clinic’s partnership with OneTen and Grads of Life showcases an inspiring example of addressing the talent shortage creatively. OneTen, a coalition of CEOs, has pledged to upskill and hire one million black individuals without four-year degrees into family-sustaining jobs over ten years. The Clinic’s approach involves reimagining job fairs, offering apprentice-type roles, and actively promoting career mobility through apprenticeships. This strategy helps employees grow their skillset on the job, making them well-equipped for future roles.

The Stars Program: Skills Through Alternative Routes
The “”Stars”” program, which stands for “”Skilled Through Alternative Routes,”” acknowledges that 50% of the current workforce has acquired their skills through various non-traditional means like military service, community college, job training, or on-the-job experience. Roughly 70 million workers lack a bachelor’s degree, and 60% of the workforce does not possess one. Stars focuses on assessing people’s skills instead of their degree qualifications, offering them opportunities for skill development and career growth.

Business Roundtable’s Commitment to Skills
The Business Roundtable, comprised of 200 CEOs, is another promising initiative. These CEOs have committed to prioritize skills-based hiring and development. By shifting their focus from degrees to skills, these companies are creating more opportunities for diverse talent and enhancing retention.

The talent shortage is a significant challenge that requires creative solutions. Embracing skills-based hiring, exploring programs like OneTen, Stars, and leveraging resources from organizations like Business Roundtable can help bridge the gap between job openings and available talent. By rethinking our approach to hiring and emphasizing skills over degrees, we can build a more inclusive, diverse, and skilled workforce, ensuring a brighter future for businesses and employees alike. The time for innovation in talent acquisition is now, and the possibilities are limitless.

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Jennifer Dole 00:00
Well, hello there, and welcome to #HRTechChat. I am Jennifer Dole, your co-host. Today, I’m introducing Pamela as my co-host, because we have such a great time doing these podcasts that we’ve just said we’re going to do one a month. And we’re going to have some great conversations. So, Pamela, welcome back.

Pamela Stroko 00:21
Oh, thank you. Hi, everybody.

Jennifer Dole 00:25
So, we’ve got a promising conversation for you today, we’re going to talk about skills, and we’re going to get real about skills. And as Pamela and I are going to get, get into the details, it’s skills from looking inward and skills looking outward. And what are their real use cases for that? So, Pamela, why don’t you start us off with just some context setting about what you’re reading?

Pamela Stroko 00:58
I’d be happy to, and you know, don’t always at the beginning of these, we try to give people some flavor of the market. And I feel like, okay, now, here’s the depressing part. Here it comes. And it the reality is, and of course, Burning Glass Institute and Gad Levanon, who does marvelous research there just published a research report on really what’s happening in the talent market and the availability of talent. And let me just share, you know, some, I think this gives you a great background to understand why we can’t find the people we need to fill open jobs. So first of all, and this should shock no one, that the working age population is shrinking, it’s been shrinking every year. And at little to no growth. So, starting in 2012, we had point 5% growth in the working age population, and then that started slowing 2.2% growth starting in 2017. And that trend is going to continue through 2030. So, I think suffice to say whoever those point 2% People are, that we’re probably at, you know, close to zero growth in that. And is that because the baby boomers that are getting ready to retire, there’s just not enough people to replace them in the workforce? Well, one of the ways they look at that, and I thought this was so insightful, they look at the number of people that are 17, that are turning 18, that could fully enter the workforce. And then they look at the number of people, 65, that might be leaving the workforce. And whenever you have a situation where you have fewer 17, turning to 18, and more 65 leaving, you have this situation of nearly zero workforce growth, you know, the point 2% or less. Now, here’s the other thing about that. And this is this is something that’s been talked about quite a bit in the market, and it’s being talked about more, it’s being talked about in the US, it’s being talked about in Europe, you know, and we mentioned it last time about unretiring retirement, yes, fastest growing segment of the workforce is 65. And over. Now, when you ask people how long you want to work, you know, for years, you grew up thinking, well, people all retired 65? Well, they don’t want to, they don’t have to, there’s plenty of work. And there’s a lot of evidence to say that when you hire someone 65 and over, they’re more loyal, they’re more committed, that they produce great results, that they actually take less time off, and they have lower health care costs. And people say, well, how could they have lower health care costs? Well, because by that point, you know, their kids are out of the house. So, you know, nobody’s going to come down with a cold every other week, they don’t do that, and so and so yeah, um, you know, there are a lot of advantages to the 65 and over worker and of course, their experience, and their ability to teach and, and grow talent. Organization, as a coach is really, really something that can make a huge difference. And again, you know, it’s talked about, it seems like a weekly basis, but looking at the 65 and older population, whether you want to look at them as full-time workers or contract workers or project workers is a great source of talent. And so, what we know from the research at Burning Glass is that there’s not going to be this big infusion of people coming in In anytime soon, that’s going to, you know, automatically start filling all these open jobs. And years ago, I read a study where they said, you know, demographically speaking, they don’t see any signs of easing till 2050. So, think about that you’re talking about, you know, 26 more years. And I’d like to think that we would be able to solve some of this before 26 years or so. So yeah, I think there are creative ways that people can look at this. And, you know, if you look at what’s being talked about in the skills marketplace, people are talking about setting it up for their organization, how do they write job descriptions internally that are skills based? And not necessarily your traditional job description? How do they look at a role and talk about the work and not just, you know, this person is a director of customer service? They look at. What does a director of customer service do? And what are the skills that you need to do that, in creating a skills-based organization is something that many people are talking about, but many people are, are not grasping it, because it feels like too much work? It’s a lot of work. And here’s another daunting, you know, parcel of truth. Yeah, and again, you know, people kind of push these out in the market and less than what it’s thought that less than 12% of the companies that have the capability to do a skills marketplace internally are actually doing it, because it is a lot of work. And you have a lot of challenges. And we’ll talk about that in a minute when we get to reskilling, but I want to talk about skills from the outside in for a moment. And what’s going on in the marketplace that I think could radically change, hiring skills. So, I want to talk about a story actually coming out of Cleveland Clinic. And they partnered with an organization called 110. And 110 partnered with grads of life, by the way, I love that grad of life,

Jennifer Dole 07:23
I think that is pretty cool.

Pamela Stroko 07:25
I think I’m a grad life on so many levels.

Jennifer Dole 07:28
I love it.

Pamela Stroko 07:29
So many levels. But what 110 is, and I love the commitment, and the follow through, it’s a coalition of leading CEOs, that they have a commitment to upskill to hire and promote 1 million black individuals who do not have a four-year degree. And they want to grow them into family sustaining jobs, with opportunities for advancement over 10 years hence one time. And what I like about that, and Cleveland Clinic has used one time and grads of life to actually begin looking at their talent pipelines and filling jobs that way. And what I like is they put the caveat in there that it’s family sustaining role, so you don’t have to work three jobs, to pay them anymore to pay the house payment. And, and it’s just a phenomenal approach. And it’s wildly successful. Oh, my notebook dropped. Sorry about that everybody. You know, when you’re live, these things happen.

Jennifer Dole 08:36
Yes they do.

Pamela Stroko 08:37
These things happen. So what they did is, first of all, they’re changing how they’re going to the market when they have job fairs. They invite people that don’t have a degree, and they talk about how you could really start as a nursing assistant, and eventually grow to become an RN, through their program. They have a lot of roles where their apprentice type role so you can come in, you can start kind of at the beginning of learning what that work is, and then grow over the course of a year, two years, three years, five years into more senior roles in the hope that within 10 years, you know, you’re looking at as senior role in the organization, maybe a role that they used to say this is a role for somebody that has a four year degree.

Jennifer Dole 09:33
So are they starting without a college education, getting job exposure? And then as part of the program to get the college education or is it just the experience?

Pamela Stroko 09:45
It’s really the experiences it’s essentially the best on the job training. And yes, when you look at can somebody how does somebody go from, you know, nursing assistant to an RN, of course, there’s education and training in that. And then each organization does it differently. Like you’re in Chicago, by the way, everyone I live in Chicago. They have at Rush, university, their hospital, they have a program where you could start out as a nursing assistant and eventually grow into the RN degree and they help supplement the your education you’re the paying you for, for doing that. And you have a job while you’re doing it. And they help you with the education costs as well. So essentially, they’re now building their pipeline of RR. I love that. I love that. And when you put that against what Gad said that the roles where we’re going to see the biggest gaps are, you know, support roles and healthcare, you have to say, we’ve got to start solving this problem today, this isn’t going to fix itself, by 2030, we have to start solving it today. So essentially, you know, one ton and grads of life at Cleveland Clinic created something called career mobility through apprenticeship. So you can think about many of the identified which roles and many of the roles that they had, you could apprentice and learn on the job and then fully occupy that role over time. And it’s just been a fabulous approach for them to hire into their organization. And, you know, for them, it’s the biggest shift is the shift to skills based hiring. And it’s not a job description anymore. It’s really What skills does someone need to do this work? So don’t think of the big description, think about the work, what’s the work that needs to be done? What actually gets delivered from this work? What’s the outcome? And what kind of skills do you need to create that outcome? And, you know, one of the things I like about what they did is, they actually looked at all their roles. And they said that they could identify more than 2000 roles, that could be skills first. Now, I’m all I’m like, That is incredible. It’s an incredible story. And, you know, I look at that, and I’m like, why isn’t everybody doing this? You know, there are gaps in health care organizations across the country? Why are we not all looking at skills? First? Why are we not all looking at organizations like one tant time, or my second story organization is all about star.

Jennifer Dole 12:43
Now, before we go there, I want to say regarding skills, there’s so much conversation around it, but the Cleveland Clinic example is like one of the best stories that I’ve heard, oh, yes, the of getting real about skills.

Pamela Stroko 13:04
I liked getting real part to me was they identified a problem, meaning they have gaps where they have roles that couldn’t fill.

Jennifer Dole 13:14

Pamela Stroko 13:14
And the way that maybe traditionally, organizations went to market wasn’t helping fill those roles. And so they looked at how do we get the work done? How do we attract great talent? How do we make a promise to people that we are here for the entirety of your career? Yeah, I mean, think about, you know, everyone talks about today, like loyalty and whether or not, you know, you can retain people, if you want loyalty, train someone to have a great job, and then pay them well, and have a great career and have a great career. That’s loyalty. I mean, I don’t care what study read when you go back to the original Deloitte 20, you know, future 2020 study? What did they say 86% of people leave a job for lack of career development. Well, this solves that. And I love what Cleveland Clinic did. And if you’re interested in learning more about that story, they wrote up the entire case study. And you can go to the 110 website and download the entire case study and what they did and how they did it. And I think that’s just an important story to tell. And, and I think it’s going to serve them well for years to come. I mean, now this is this is their recruiting strategy. This is their development strategy. This is how do we support our people strategy and am I think it’s, it’s a brilliant was a brilliant move. It comes together so well. It really does. for people and for health care. It doesn’t and think about how many times do you see an article in a week about Oh, there’s just not enough people in healthcare. More people are leaving nursing now than they ever thought would leave nursing. And people say, Oh, was the pandemic? Well, maybe. But it also speaks to what the opportunity was, what the challenges are. And the fact that people are saying, Hey, I don’t want to come in and do two jobs and get paid for one, because they don’t have enough health. I mean, there’s, there’s a reality there that says, we need more capability. And we need more help in nursing roles. And so where’s that going to come from and Cleveland Clinic has solved that. But they also there’s, there’s a kind of Nether connection to skills and looking at skills from the outside in. And that’s with stars and stars is skilled through alternative routes. Now, what I like about stars is it begins to address some of the big challenges in the marketplace, like 50% of the people in the workforce today have developed their skills through things like military service, going to community college, job training are on the job experience. And right now, there are 70 million workers that don’t have a bachelor’s degree that are the it’s estimated 60% of the workers don’t have a bachelor’s degree and 70% of workers or 70 million workers would could potentially be part of star. So what does Star do? Well Star is about looking at people skills, instead of just looking at what kind of paper they have, do they have a college degree. And star also had this campaign which I loved, and there are so many commercials online, you can look at Ogilvy help them do these, these videos, it’s looking at how you could come in to Star how you could tear the paper ceiling and that’s the whole campaign tear the paper ceiling love that. I know I love that how you can come into Star and you can grow your skill base and you can grow your career. And one of the things about star as well is they have resources, if you don’t know where to start with skill based hiring, they have put a playbook out on their website. It’s the playbook. For star, it’s a playbook for skills based hiring. So they teach you how to adopt skills based hiring, they define help you define a hiring strategy or skills based hiring, which I love. And they focus a lot on teaching people how to write a position description for skills rather than their traditional job description. And I think that help can help tremendously in the marketplace. And so we have more and more organizations, hopefully moving in this direction. And, you know, the election cycle last November had an impact as well, in that, in Pennsylvania, when the new governor was elected, the first thing he did is he took the four year degree requirements out of state job descriptions. Same thing happened in Illinois, with Governor Pritzker took that out of there. So all of a sudden, we’re able to look at people’s skills, as opposed as opposed to if you don’t have this bachelor’s degree, you’re not even getting in to the interview process. And everybody knows if you have any kind of, you know, hiring CRM, or any kind of any kind of recruiting technology, that oftentimes it can screen people out because they don’t have a degree. Yeah, or the paper ceiling is about tearing the paper ceiling. It’s not about the degree. It’s what people can learn. It’s what people can do. And, and also, let’s talk about diversity and inclusion are about actually I was going to say hello, hello, you can expand the diversity of your workforce, you can be more inclusive, you can create belonging by using some of these tools that these organizations have developed in how you go to market for talent. And let’s face it, if there’s pretty much zero growth in the number of people in the labor pool, you’re going to have to do something more creative than what you’re doing today. There’s no question you’re going to have to do something more creative. So I want to mention one other organization, because I am not sure how much people have heard about this. There are CEOs and companies that have signed up and said, I’m all for this, I want to go down this road. And it’s called Business Roundtable. And it has the commitment of 200 CEOs, that they will focus on hiring and development, through skills. They’re committed to skills, hiring, skills based hiring and skills based development. Now, think about that. 200 CEOs, that’s phenomenal. And developing resources. Again, you can go to business roundtable and look at their resources and look at how they share resources amongst the companies because they do. And, and again, they’re opening up more opportunity for talent pipelines, they’re opening up more opportunity internally as well. And that has an impact on retention, obviously. And so they they’re really committed to, we’re going to focus on skills, we’re going to help develop people. And we’re going to help give people a skill base, that they can grow over a period of time into senior level roles that we used to require a degree for.

Jennifer Dole 21:21
Yeah, that’s amazing. And I think, you know, you’ve said this throughout all the conversations that we’ve had, but, you know, to fix the doom and gloom and have the sun come out, it’s really about getting creative and about organizational commitment to not doing things the way we’ve always done it.

Pamela Stroko 21:44
Absolutely. So where are we with this conversation? So how do we get past this, the labor pool isn’t growing? Well, guess what there are a lot of people 65 And over that want to work, they want to work 15 more years, 17 more years, 18 more years. And they have the skills, they have the capabilities, they can work in a number of different scenarios, contract, project, full time. And so let’s look at that population. Let’s look at OneTen. And let’s look at how we can help develop people that would have been overlooked otherwise. And let’s look at how we can be part of that commitment to develop that 1 million black workers so they can take on greater responsibility roles over the course of their career through skills development. Let’s look at Star skilled through alternative routes. Let’s look at people that have been working at jobs, they don’t have the degree they’ve been working jobs, they’ve been getting paid less, of course, and that they can broaden their skill set and grow with a career path and an organization. And one of the key things that people do when they create these career paths through skills is they identify jobs that are gateway jobs that says if this person comes in, and takes this job, this is a gateway job to all of these other jobs. And so they learned that role. And then when the next role comes open, they have a lot more opportunity, because they’ve done the gateway jobs. And you know, they’re basically star says they’re about 30 jobs that can turn the tide of talent mobility for people using skills as part of development. And so I think it’s so important to if you’re running talent acquisition, what is your skills approach, skill based hiring, but skill based hiring, maybe with partnering with grad supply, maybe partnering with one time, maybe partnering with star? And there’s so many resources that these organizations put out there that take a look because it can help business roundtable when you’ve got the commitment of CEOs Business Roundtable has huge commitment across a number of industries. And you know, one of the things I always look at the news before we talk so what’s in today’s news, guess what? We don’t have as much manufacturing talent as we need. Now, I don’t know how this qualifies this news because we’ve known them for a while. But what they said was is the way we can fix it is by hiring more women into manufacturing and making it easier for women to take manufacturing jobs. Well, to me that is the case study for stars. That is the case study, maybe for Business Roundtable maybe for 110. It depends on your organization and what you’re trying to do. But there are ways that you can call close those gaps in manufacturing and healthcare, and frontline work and retail, and you can know many industries or communities for people, so many industries, so many industries.

Jennifer Dole 25:11
Well, Pamela, you have given us some great resources. And we will provide links to them in the notes to this podcast so that everyone can find them easily. And you’ve given us some incredible use cases for really using skills and skill based hiring and what it is. So thank you so much for going through that with us today.

Pamela Stroko 25:39
Oh, you’re welcome. It’s always my pleasure to host with you.

Jennifer Dole 25:43
Yeah, sparking some thoughts for people. So we’ll be back again next month, with another exciting conversation for you. And for today, we hope that you’ve got some inspiration to think about your talent pipeline in a different and more creative way. Thank you.

Pamela Stroko 26:06
Thanks, everybody. Have a great weekend.

Jennifer Dole 26:08

Pamela Stroko 26:09

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