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SHRM Foundation Skills-First logo


Skills-first hiring is essential to the future of work.

Increasingly, U.S. workers are turning to skilled credentials as a way to enhance and demonstrate skills and work readiness. But can certifications, badges and apprenticeships stand in for traditional education and work experience when seeking a new job?

SHRM and SHRM Foundation conducted research to demonstrate the value and impact of nondegree credentials to identify skills and talents in the workforce and to delineate future work. This research was made possible by a grant from Walmart.

The Rise of Skilled Credentials in Hiring

Workers are gaining skills through skilled credentials.


Increase in unique credentials in the United States since 2018.


of U.S. workers agree having a skilled credential improves thier chance of being hired.


of U.S. workers say earning skilled credentials helped them progress in thier careers.

Skilled Credentials Are Valued According To:






HR Professionals

Research Reports

This research report answers baseline questions about what a skilled credential is, when and how employers value skilled credentials, what types of skilled credentials are most valued and more.

Learn how to leverage skilled credentials beyond degrees. This report provides effective strategies for hiring and promoting diverse talent based on skills and competencies, leading to a more successful organization.

SHRM conducted this study with support from the Stand Together Trust, to learn more about HR perceptions and how and if degree inflation is a barrier to hiring skilled talent.

Articles & Resources

Browse our library of resources to see what others are saying about skills-first credentials and skills-based hiring.

How we evaluate credentials, training and experience should reflect our expectations for building tomorrow’s workforce.

Focus on skills, not degrees, to help increase your talent pool.

We urge HR professionals and hiring managers to look to individuals with nondegreed credentials as viable candidates for hiring and promotion.

The Case for Skills and Aptitude-Based Hiring Practices

"Every day, businesses miss out on talented people because their gifts, aptitudes, and skills are not as easy to identify as a degree on a resume."

All Things Work Podcast

In this episode of All Things Work, Wendi Safstrom, president of the SHRM Foundation, joins host Tony Lee to discuss skilled credentials and their role in closing the skills gap.

Interviews with Industry Leaders on Skills-First Hiring

SHRM Foundation partnered with WorkingNation to interview industry leaders on the value of skills-first hiring and credentials.

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Edie Goldberg

On the need to look at certifications

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Diana Spencer

On HR catching up to skills-based hiring

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Angela Briggs-Paige

On considering skills when hiring

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Tom Mathews

On the value of different skill sets

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Gregorio Flores

On assessing beyond the resume