Millions of people are never given an opportunity to land a job that their skills, aptitude for learning and problem-solving qualify them to hold

The American labor force is transforming in multiple ways. People aged 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the labor force, while millennials are already the largest generation in the workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projections for the change in labor force distribution based on race for the period 2016-2026 indicates the percent of Blacks will increase from 12.3% to 12.7%; Asians will increase from 6% to 7.2%; and all other groups increasing from 3.3% to 3.9%.

Using a different perspective, 17.4% of the workforce is foreign-born. In terms of education, Statista research says 36.6 percent of women and 35.4 percent of males finished college in 2019. There are plenty of more statistics that make the point the workforce is clearly diverse by any measure in terms of race, ethnicity and age, and there are plenty of people who are degree-less.


Connecting the Equal Opportunity Dots

How are diversity and being degree-less connected?

How are diversity and being degree-less connected? In September 2019, the government projected employment to grow by 8.4 million jobs from 2018-2028, but there is already a labor shortage. Or is there?

expensive-tuition-1Perhaps the emphasis on earning a college degree to qualify for a good job has contributed to what is perceived as a labor shortage, when in fact there are millions of people who are never given an opportunity to land a job that their skills and aptitude for learning and problem-solving qualify them to hold. Maybe there are millions of diverse employees, a growing population cohort and source of talent, who are not considered for jobs because they have no college degree due to the high cost of getting one, or they have a technical degree and it is discounted by employers, or a foreign degree is not recognized. Perhaps there are millions of highly qualified employees held back from career advancement because those with degrees are always considered first.

Degree-based hiring can exclude capable candidates and create employment barriers to people able to do quality work

It is all about giving people equal opportunity. That is the underlying principle of the Executive Order on Modernizing and Reforming the Assessment and Hiring of Federal Job Candidates. This remarkable order is focused on filling federal jobs based on merit and not on an over-reliance on degrees. Degree-based hiring can exclude capable candidates, create employment barriers to people able to do quality work in emerging and innovative technologies and present obstacles to opportunities that, in the words of the Executive Order, “disproportionately burden low-income Americans and decrease economic mobility.” The Executive Order directs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to revise their recruitment and hiring practices to “better identify and secure talent through skills- and competency-based hiring.” The order also says to develop and utilize a valid job candidate assessment process.

Removing Barriers to Jobs

Degree-based hiring practices can support biased hiring because this approach provides no assurance the talent process is fair and impartial. A high quality process will use multiple methods of evaluating job candidates that include assessments, job simulations and interviews, but if a person never makes it past the resume and job application stage, it becomes a moot point.

A CareerBuilder survey reported some eye-opening facts. One is that 38-percent of employers had raised educational requirements in the prior five years and 41-percent of employers are hiring college-educated people for positions mostly held by high school educated people. This creates a barrier to people who have the skills or potential but no college degree.

Many people do not go to college simply because they cannot afford it, but that is no reflection of their ability to succeed.

The average cost of college tuition, fees and room and board for one year at a 4-year institution ranges from $21,950-$49,879. Multiply those numbers by four, and a 4-year degree costs a minimum of $87,800-$199,516 with an average total price of $122,000 for public and private institutions. For a 2-year institution, the average total cost of college is $50,880.

Pre-Employment Assessments Are The Gold Standard in tackling labor shortages, biased recruitment and hiring practices

The Public Policy Institute of the Conference Board discussed the coming problems in the labor market due to the aging of America. In The Aging Workforce: Tackling the Challenge, it is made clear the demographic transition is going to make it much more difficult for employers to fill positions, unless they revise their recruitment, hiring and retention strategies. The first recommendation is to take full advantage of existing talent, “including from groups whose potential contributions the US has failed to fully support and cultivate in the past.” It goes on to say the private sector must be the leader in reducing barriers to potential workers entering or staying in the workforce.

What can a quality assessment process measure?

Valid pre-employment assessments are the gold standard for tackling a labor shortage and biased recruitment and hiring practices. A valid hiring assessment is evidence-based in that it uses large amounts of continuously collected data to ensure the assessments reflect the attributes a person needs to succeed in a particular job. Pre-hire assessments can measure a person’s current technical knowledge and hands-on skills but a quality assessment process will also measure the person’s ability to problem solve and multi-task, work with customers, succeed in a particular organizational culture and much more.

Assessments and job simulations are crucial to skills-based hiring

The country is undergoing a transition that already directly impacting the labor force makeup and the ability of employers to fill positions with people who are most likely to perform well and stay with the organization. Relying on a degree as a way to eliminate job applicants from consideration is eliminating economic opportunities for large segments of the labor force. Assessments and job simulations are crucial to skills-based hiring and are also crucial to talent management after hiring. They are used for talent pre-boarding, onboarding and development too.

pre-hire and post-hire assessments help employers strategically hire, develop and retain talent

Assessments are a Powerful Force for Change

FurstPerson developed a full range of pre-hire and post-hire assessments to help employers strategically hire, develop and retain talent. They can play a central role in merit-based hiring, increasing productivity, reducing turnover and building successful careers through unbiased decisions about talent development needs and promotions. The Executive Order brings the federal civil service system onboard, and our expectation is that this transition will lead to new economic opportunities for people who have been excluded because of the practice of placing emphasis on a college degree instead of skills, competence and aptitude. We are ready to help all private and federal employers be a powerful force for change.