WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hosted an online discussion on June 28, 2022, on skills-based hiring to promote equal employment opportunity in the workplace.

The roundtable, “Skills Based Hiring: Removing Barriers and Paving Pathways to an Inclusive Workforce,” brought together leaders to explore how more employers are removing hiring barriers and retaining workers by recognizing and valuing workers’ skills regardless of where they were acquired – whether in a formal degree program, on the job, or through a worker’s own experience.

The third in a continuing series of Hiring Initiative to Reimagine Equity roundtables, the discussion sought to engage a broad array of stakeholders in pursuit of a common goal: to help address key hiring and recruiting challenges that prevent underrepresented communities from accessing good jobs.

“Many employers – the federal government included – are re-examining degree and hiring requirements to focus on an applicant’s abilities rather than where they learned them,” said Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Jenny R. Yang. “In many cases, eliminating unnecessary educational requirements or narrow prior experience requirements for positions allows employers to select skilled workers from a diverse range of backgrounds. In many industries, business leaders are resetting their assumptions and expanding the pool of available talent.”

“Not every job requires a four-year degree, yet that default assumption limits many employers from finding qualified candidates,” said Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “Focusing on skills-based hiring can open opportunities for workers who are often excluded from consideration, including job seekers from underserved communities.”

“We are delighted to support this collaborative HIRE initiative,” said Opportunity@Work CEO Byron Auguste. “Our extensive data analytics on skills and job mobility finds that over 70 million U.S. workers skilled through alternative routes such as community colleges, military service, partial college completion, workforce training programs, and on-the-job learning are undervalued in the job market.”

“OneTen is very pleased to join the EEOC and OFCCP today on this important topic to catalyze inclusive workplaces,” said OneTen CEO Maurice Jones. “Our country is currently leaving great talent on the sidelines. Scaling a skills first approach to our hiring and promoting will help us to be a great country for years to come.”

“At Bitwise Industries, developing inclusive technology starts with the assumption that our communities are full of untapped talent and potential,” said Bitwise Industries Vice President of External Affairs Laura Maristany. “Creating pathways for more representative tech talent starts with employers who value hands-on experience and build systems to screen people in. We do this by powering technology solutions across sectors with underestimated talent proving that human-driven approaches are not only the right thing to do but are also profitable.”

“SHRM is proud to be a resource to the EEOC and OFCCP as they identify best practices for reaching untapped talent pools and growing diversity in the workplace,” said the Society of Human Resource Management’s Chief of Staff and Head of Government Affairs Emily M. Dickens. “HR professionals are leading the way in using skills-based hiring and alternative credentials in talent acquisition, and we will continue to partner with government and the business community to remove barriers for jobseekers.”

View a video recording of the event on the EEOC YouTube channel. 

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