CEO group stresses skills over degrees in hiring

Dive Brief: 

  • Business Roundtable, a nonprofit representing CEOs of major U.S. companies, announced a new initiative this week to recognize skills, rather than only college degrees, in the hiring process. 

  • More than 80 member companies have signed onto the initiative. In addition to implementing new recruitment strategies, they also are updating training programs to help employees gain the skills they need for promotions. 

  • The news comes as more large companies launch training programs and as many employers look to education benefits to help retain their workers. 

Dive Insight: 

The initiative is meant to improve equity and diversity in employment. The companies may develop more job advancement pathways and create new training modules to help employees develop skills, including through apprenticeships or working with online learning platforms and external training providers. 

Some colleges have been working with employers directly to train their workers. Last year, Arizona State University and a private equity firm launched InStride, a public-benefit corporation that connects employers and higher education institutions. 

InStride and the Business Roundtable have joined more than two dozen other organizations, companies and universities in backing a federal bill that aims to expand educational assistance programs. If passed, the Upskilling and Retraining Assistance Act would increase the amount employers can contribute tax-free to employees’ education benefits for two years. 

Tuition benefit platforms have also been gaining steam. In September, Noodle, which helps colleges launch and run online programs, partnered with the parent company of two for-profit colleges to create WorkforceEdge. The platform will allow employers to administer tuition benefits to their employees, who can enroll in short-term and degree programs offered by participating colleges. 

And Guild Education, another tuition benefit platform that links colleges and employers, recently acquired an ed tech consulting company to help it connect laid-off workers with education and career opportunities. 

These relationships provide new recruiting opportunities for colleges, but some companies are offering their own training that could lure students away from traditional higher education. 

Amazon announced this week plans to launch an effort to train 29 million people worldwide in cloud computing by 2025, following a commitment last year to reskill 100,000 of its U.S. workers, The Wall Street Journal reported

The company has also partnered with scores of U.S. colleges to offer cloud computing curriculum, which experts say helps these schools keep students who might look to alternative education providers for such training.

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