The “Chicken or Egg” Debate Among HR Leaders: Credentials or Potential When Hiring?

The “Chicken or Egg” Debate Among HR Leaders: Credentials or Potential When Hiring?

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Last spring, Learning House and Future Workplace surveyed 600 human resource leaders about the nationwide skills gap crisis, the state of hiring processes, and the difficulties of identifying qualified candidates. As job openings in the U.S. continue to rise, nearly half of the HR leaders questioned blame higher education for the skills gap. Approximately 47 percent of leaders surveyed state that colleges are not properly preparing students for the working world. The survey also reveals that 35 percent of employers feel it is the responsibility of colleges and universities to make potential employees “work-ready”.

However, higher education leaders believe they are taking the necessary steps to prepare students for a workplace that is constantly changing. With 85 percent of jobs that today’s students will perform in 2030 not even in existence yet, educational institutions are making strides to adapt programs that will address the disconnect between what students learn, and what students actually do in the workforce.

So as employers work to close the talent gap, and educators adjust programs, this brings to light a critical dilemma for hiring managers. No different than the age-old “chicken or egg” mystery, which should take precedent when hiring a candidate — their hard skills/degree/technical certifications (credentials), or their soft skills/ability to train (potential)?

Difficulties of Hiring for Credentials/Hard Skills

According to the survey, technology and IT jobs are the hardest to fill, followed by management jobs. These positions correspond to what employers believe are the in-demand college majors — computer information systems, finance, and economics. Again, this also reinforces the importance employers are placing on educational institutions to prepare the future job market.

Difficulties of Hiring for Potential/Soft Skills

The survey also identified the top three soft skills sought out by employers: teamwork (38 percent), the ability to adapt to change (37 percent), and leadership (37 percent).

However, the survey also highlights many challenges that exist to address the soft skills gap. Budget shortfalls and a lack of both external and internal talent being available to train employees top this surmounting list of setbacks. But, as a result, employers are becoming more open to innovative ways to address their skills gap.

Alternative Methods to Address Hiring for Both Credentials and Potential 

Discovering creative ways to address the skills gap has become a top priority among hiring managers. Employers are beginning to seriously consider hiring candidates without traditional four-year degrees based on the survey results — which may allow job seekers to search for alternative credentialing.

Registered apprenticeships offer an alternate model. While not always thought of in the U.S. as a natural option, registered apprenticeship programs can offer employers numerous benefits, such as structured training, streamlined recruitment practices, increased loyalty and retention, and enhanced performance. 

At Franklin Apprenticeships, we help employers build their workforce, so companies can focus on growing their business. We have the tools, technology, and network necessary to build, execute, and manage modern apprenticeship programs that fit specific organizational requirements. 

Employers will need to continue thinking outside the box today to train and retain the workforce of tomorrow. No different than the “chicken or egg” debate, the “credentials or potential” discussion remains as a top topic of interest among HR leaders.

Fortunately, employers now have more options to think outside the box, and influence the direction of this ongoing conversation.

Are you an employer hiring for IT Helpdesk and/or Network Engineer positions? Narrow your skills gap, fill your talent pipeline, and obtain assistance with company-specific training by partnering with Franklin Apprenticeships. Contact us today to learn more about our current digital apprenticeship programs: Franklin Digital and Missouri Digital.


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