Major corporations like IBM, Accenture, Google, and now Walmart, are making a shift towards more skill-based hiring — reducing the emphasis placed on degree requirements for even corporate job roles.
A 2022 report by the Burning Glass Institute revealed that between 2017 and 2019, 46% of middle-skill and 31% of high-skill occupations saw a notable decrease in degree prerequisites. This trend is not limited to the private sector; by mid-2022, 13 states had eliminated unnecessary degree requirements for state government positions, according to Forbes. Walmart’s decision to adopt this approach for some of its corporate roles could be a game-changer, due to the company’s size and influence on the U.S. workforce.
Job descriptions have traditionally been crafted around credentials. However, with the rapid evolution of technology like generative AI in combination with pressing challenges such as job shortages, there’s a growing importance placed on skills in attraction and recruitment efforts.
Instead of traditional degrees, more companies seem to be accepting shorter, specialized certifications to prove competence in the required skills needed for a job. For instance, cybersecurity roles at Walmart, which previously mandated a degree, are now being filled by individuals with nine to 12-month certificates, according to Forbes.
This transition towards certifications and on-the-job experience has become more important for companies that have a vast workforce, like Walmart. One reason is that maintaining unnecessary degree requirements could limit career progression for many workers already employed but are perhaps looking for promotions. To further support this initiative, Walmart is investing in upskilling platforms like Guild, which allow employees to earn credit hours for practical experience.
This shift in hiring practices by major U.S. corporations could be the beginning of a new chapter in the workforce. If these decisions inspire more companies to invest in skills over degrees, the job seekers are poised for entirely different ways of approaching and considering job opportunities.