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Action Planner

Apply a Skills-First Strategy for Your Organization

Assess your readiness, learn to manage the change, and create a strategic action plan.

Employers who prioritize skills-first strategies access larger talent pools, boost loyalty among current employees, and prepare for a changing job landscape. 

The Skilled Credentials Action Planner is a self-paced tool with resources and guided learning to help you assess your organization's readiness, integrate change management, and create a custom workplan for skills-first strategies.

The Skilled Credentials Action Planner was developed by the SHRM Foundation in partnership with Jobs for the Future. It was made possible with funding from the Charles Koch Foundation.


Skilled Credentials Action Planner

The Skilled Credentials Action Planner is a free tool designed for busy HR professionals to implement a skills-first hiring or retention strategy. Through guided prompts, it helps create a tailored action plan to turn your goals into reality.

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Shifting Worker Trends Means Shifting Hiring Strategies

Did you know that, since 2018, the number of people enrolling in a 2- or 4-year degree program has fallen by nearly 10%? At this point, 2-in-3 working-age adults in the United States don’t have a 4-year degree.

Types of Jobs HR Professionals Say Could Have the Degree Requirement Removed with Little to No Impact:


Entry-level positions


Mid-level (non-managerial) positions


Mid-level (managerial) positions


Senior/executive-level positions

Source: SHRM, Policy, Legal, and Regulatory Factors Contributing to Degree Inflation in Organizations, 2022


Starting a Skills-First Hiring Model

  • Establish a champion or team of champions and measure their readiness for leading a major change initiative. Readiness is a combination of capacity, influence, and resilience.
  • Measure company readiness through outreach to HR and operational leadership, inventorying existing initiatives that could be leveraged, and gathering feedback on talent management challenges. This preparation process should inform where in the HR lifecycle companies can begin skills-first adoption for maximum impact.
  • Start small by identifying a single department with a felt talent management need that could be addressed through skilled credential adoption. Choosing a department with more familiarity surrounding skills is also an advantage (e.g. there is often more existing knowledge and acceptance of skilled credentials among IT leaders).
  • Use turnover, performance, promotion, and DE&I data to change hearts and minds of key stakeholders. Continue to collect this data throughout skills-first adoption to demonstrate impact and make the case for future scaling.
  • Adapt project plans to evolving organizational dynamics and priorities, centering change management considerations at every juncture.
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