Skills-based hiring goes coast-to-coast with the Skillful State Network

20 states are joining together in a bipartisan effort to close the skills gap between employers and workers without college degrees.

Skillful has helped Colorado employers discover the value of workers without college degrees and now more states are joining in this effort to transform hiring practices and workforce development.

The initiative, which was launched in 2016 by the Markle Foundation, is expanding to 19 more states through the Skillful State Network, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Markle Foundation CEO and president Zoë Baird announced on Wednesday.

“Millions of Americans need to get connected to the skills and the jobs of our fast-changing digital economy,” Baird said in a release. “Forming the Skillful State Network is a way to share our approach, tools and assets quickly. It also allows all of us to build on the great work being done in these states.”

The national unemployment rate is at a low 4.1 percent and employers report that they cannot source enough talented workers. This is leading to labor shortages in critical industries like tech, healthcare and construction and limiting economic growth. Skillful seeks to reframe hiring practices so employers can identify workers with the skills, but not the degree or experience, to get the job done.

RELATED STORY: The skills-based economy gets a boost with Skillful

Expanding the talent pool can have many advantages for employers. When they use job experience and college degrees as proxies for skills in their job descriptions, they ignore a majority of Americans who do not qualify under their strict guidelines. This is costing employers time and money according to a recent study from the Harvard Business School. Moving to skills-based hiring can be a more effective and affordable way to find long-term workers.

“Access to a talented and trained workforce is key for businesses in our state to thrive and right now we know that this is a challenge. I look forward to working with Skillful and the Network to share strategies and develop innovative pathways for workers to gain skills and ultimately connect employers with the workforce they need,” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said.

The network is a way for policymakers to share best practices derived from their state’s workforce development programs, from apprenticeships to the New Start Career Network in New Jersey. WorkingNation has highlighted the success of these unique skills training programs through our Do Something Awesome mini-documentary series.

“As governors, we are joining together around a shared commitment to support a variety of career paths to good-paying jobs, and expand the talent pool for employers who need skilled workers to grow,” Gov. Hickenlooper said.

Skillful also released the “Skillful State Playbook,” a free guide for policymakers to explore the resources offered by the public-private venture with Microsoft and LinkedIn. The guide outlines the seven steps state governments can take to implement data-driven solutions and create a skills-driven labor market. Baird said that the network is open for more states to add their own ideas to the mix.

Since its inception in Colorado, Skillful has connected employers and job seekers through the power of collaboration and innovation. The network, which reaches across political divisions and state borders, is an attempt to bring these solutions to scale, so millions of Americans are not left behind in the new economy.

The Skillful State Network has been embraced in 20 states and is a bipartisan effort to create new work opportunities for millions of Americans without degrees. Image – WorkingNation

Joining Colorado in the Skillful State Network: Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Read the entire Skillful State Playbook: click here.

Join the Conversation: Head to the WorkingNation Facebook page and tell us your thoughts about the new state network.

For more about Skillful and its mission to create a skills-focused labor market, watch the following video.