Preparing Kids for Skills-Based Hiring

A high school girl is looking at her laptop wearing headphones

Parents know what their children need. What excites them. What challenges them. What they dream of when they imagine their future. And every parent wants their child to find success and thrive—no matter where life takes them after graduation. 

Whether our kids like to admit it or not, they look to parents for career advice in a world where the job market is constantly changing. From shifting degree requirements on job descriptions to a focus on on-the-job training and skills development, today’s job listings have changed, and the advice parents give their kids should change with them. 

The change is part of a trend called "skills-based hiring." According to a 2017 study from the Harvard Business Review, employers concluded that hiring based on skills rather than four-year degrees widens their candidate pools and diversifies their workforces.  

What Is Skills-Based Hiring?  

For parents, the skills-based hiring trend may seem like a lot, but it’s actually pretty simple. Here’s what you need to know:  

Skills-based hiring simply means employers have shifted their focus from seeking four-year degrees to looking for specific skillsets their applicants demonstrate. The thinking behind this hiring trend is that employees matching a specific skillset are often better suited to their jobs than someone who simply has a degree in a given field.  

This shift benefits our kids in two major ways: 

  1. They can enjoy a breadth of employment opportunities based on the skills they have built over time rather than always having to go back to school to earn a formal degree for something else. 
  2. They can evolve in their chosen careers and grow more easily without being “locked in” to any one career. Skills are transferable across the board! 

Whatever the trend’s cause, the shifting economic landscape is reshaping work and affecting the way kids today can approach the skills and training they’ll need when they enter the workforce. With an education from an online public school like Connections Academy®, students are empowered to take ownership of their future and pursue what excites them. The entire learning experience of Connections Academy is built around developing the whole student and preparing them for whatever comes next after graduation.  

How Can Parents Start Preparing Kids for Skills-Based Hiring? 

To help your student prepare for this shift in hiring trends, it’s important to consider what your student wants to pursue after high school graduation and how best you can support them in achieving those goals. Here are some tips to get you started: 

1. Help Your Student Explore Their Interests 

Guide your high school student in developing a career exploration plan that supports their interests and highlights their skills. Karen Muston, a certified school counselor at Connections Academy, said “While it’s important for students to not give into the pressure of choosing a career path before they are ready, it’s also important to use the years in school to try new things, explore different interests, and participate in activities that give them some career readiness. The career exploration experiences students have in school could potentially lead to a fulfilling career that brings them joy, success, and, most importantly, well-being throughout their adult lives.” 

An online student exploring her interests to prepare for skills-based hiring.

 2. Examine All Your Options  

Gone are the days of solely focusing a student on pursuing a four-year college degree. And with rising tuition prices and an overwhelming set of degree options to choose from, having alternative options to formal degrees helps set our students up for a promising and profitable future. From trade schools to apprenticeships, students have the opportunity to capitalize on skills development all while building toward their future career goals.  

3. Provide the Resources and Education to Support Their Goals 

Setting your student up for success after graduation by supporting their interests and helping them explore their passions in high school isn’t always an easy task. But at Connections Academy, our tuition-free online public schools help students build lifelong skills, develop their passions, and establish independence. 

The Future Job Market 

The focus on pursuing four-year college degrees is still a relevant consideration for many families regardless of how much hiring has changed. That said, the job markets kids will face in the future will be more complicated than just that. By some estimates, as many as 65% of the kids starting high school today will end up working in types of jobs that don’t even exist yet.  

According to Dell Technologies’ recent “Realizing 2030” report, around 85% of the jobs that were around back in 1900 were obsolete by the year 2000 and, ironically, roughly 85% of the jobs that will exist by 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. All the more reason to support your student in defining their future based on what excites them and continuing development of key skills that will improve their employability in the future.  

A family discussing how to prepare for skills-based hiring.

More than ever, parents should evaluate the educational opportunities available for their children, with an eye toward whether those options are the best ones to essentially future-proof their kids. The surge in skills-based hiring will mean that alternatives to traditional higher ed, such as two-year community colleges, online schools like Connections Academy, self-studying, and so-called digital credentialing, are all going to become increasingly invaluable and in ever-high demand over the course of the next decade. 

For more information about preparing kids for the jobs of the future and how online school can support that skill development, visit our Resource Hub and explore the possibilities.  

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