Companies must focus on skills and potential instead of qualifications when interviewing jobseekers if the UK is to close its skills gap and improve workforce diversity.
Recent data revealed that 82% of all job vacancies require digital skills, while Microsoft research has found that more than two-thirds of UK business leaders say they are facing a digital skills gap that could impair their company’s ability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 5% of the UK’s workforce (1.7 million people) is unemployed, as measures designed to tackle the spread of COVID-19 often adversely affected businesses. While new LinkedIn data found that 36% of new jobs started in the UK in 2020 were by workers moving into different industries or functions where they may not have had previous experience, Microsoft believes more can be done to ensure a fairer recovery from the pandemic.
Microsoft and LinkedIn have announced they are launching a range of tools and platforms designed to connect job seekers with employers.
To encourage employers to hire differently and adopt a skills-based approach, Microsoft and LinkedIn will help 250,000 companies around the world hire candidates based on their skills in 2021.
Microsoft is also launching the Career Coach Microsoft Teams app, which will provide personalised guidance for higher education students to navigate their career journey. Educational institutions can use this tool to help students discover their goals, interests, and skills using an AI-based skill identifier and LinkedIn integration. The Career Coach then aligns a student’s comprehensive profile with job market trends and helps them grow real-world skills and connect with mentors and peers all in one place.
LinkedIn is also piloting Skills Path, which will help companies identify new talent pools of pre-qualified candidates based on their proven skills. Through Skills Path, job seekers will have access to new opportunities by being able to build and demonstrate their skills with assessments and earn a recruiter conversation if they pass. Ten organisations, including Gap Inc, TaskRabbit and BlackRock have signed up to take part,
Meghan Kelly, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Gap Inc, said: “As a company that is inclusive by design, we invest in talent practices that enable us to reach the broadest candidate base possible. Participating in LinkedIn’s Skills Path pilot will help us connect with candidates faster based on core skills and potential rather than traditional experience or credentials, which creates access for an even more diverse talent pool.”
Meanwhile, the LinkedIn Skills Graph aims to creating a common skills language to help people, companies and government improve workforce planning, hiring and development programmes.
Josh Graff, Managing Director for EMEA and LATAM at LinkedIn, said: “COVID-19 has further exacerbated an already uneven playing field when it comes to getting a job. Traditional hiring practices of assessing candidates based on their formal qualifications and experience means that so many capable people that are currently unemployed, or facing unemployment, risk being locked out of the job market since they may not tick all the ‘right’ boxes.
“Employers are empathetic to the job turmoil the pandemic has created and must place greater emphasis on skills and overall potential when assessing candidates, which can help improve the diversity of their workforce, fill vital skills gaps and ensure that UK workers don’t get left behind. Skills are the engine of growth, and there is tremendous value in job seekers understanding their transferable skills and ensuring they are front and centre when applying to roles.”
Since June 2020, Microsoft and LinkedIn have helped 30 million people worldwide – and more than 1.6 million people in the UK – gain digital skills through free online learning courses available at opportunity.linkedin.com. In response to the ongoing need to get people into jobs, Microsoft and LinkedIn will extend free LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Learn courses and low-cost certifications through to the end of 2021.
Data from LinkedIn has revealed that communication, problem solving and digital literacy are among the most wanted transferable skills by employers today. Roles in E-commerce, Digital Marketing, Customer Service and Technology are also growing in demand.
Hugh Milward, Senior Director of Corporate, External and Legal Affairs at Microsoft, said: “We can’t go back to the old ways that stifle diverse thinking and innovation. We need to see a step change in how businesses identify, recruit and nurture talent. A truly inclusive recovery will require a skills-based economy and that only happens if you have a skills-based jobs market. We are committed to leading that change by helping people get the skills they need to succeed and employers the tools to make their first of many skills-based hires.”
LinkedIn and Microsoft have also launched new features and resources to help job seekers make their skills stand out to potential employers, and help employers move to a skills-based economy:
- Cover Story is a new feature on the LinkedIn profile that can help people share their story in a more authentic and engaging way through video. If you’re a jobseeker, Cover Story is a great way to share more about your career goals and showcase your soft skills to recruiters and hiring managers through your profile
- Career Explorer is an interactive tool to help people find jobs that match their skills. Using LinkedIn data, jobseekers can see how their skills can lead them to new career opportunities, what additional skills they may need, along with LinkedIn Learning courses that can help fill those gaps
- LinkedIn members can showcase their proficiency for hard skills with Skill Assessments and earn a badge that is added to their LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn members with five or more skills listed on their LinkedIn profile are discovered up to 27 times more in searches by recruiters, and those with a Skill Assessment badge on their profile are 20% more likely to get hired
- LinkedIn members can use the #OpenToWork profile photo frame to signal to employers that they are looking for new opportunities. More than six million people are using the #OpentoWork photo frame, and they receive, on average, 40% more messages from recruiters and are 20% more likely to receive messages from the broader LinkedIn community
- Job seekers can also access free LinkedIn interview preparation tools
- Career Coach, a Microsoft Teams app powered by LinkedIn, provides personalised guidance for higher education students to navigate their career journey. Career Coach offers educational institutions a unified career solution for students to help discover their goals, interests and skills using an AI-based skill identifier and LinkedIn integration that aligns a student’s comprehensive profile with job market trends and helps them grow real-world skills and connect with mentors and peers all in one place
- Microsoft Apprenticeship Connector aims to simplify the apprenticeship process by listing vacancies across Microsoft’s network of partners and customers. This new online platform will connect more jobseekers with companies who need apprentices in the UK.