You don’t need a college degree to have a very good job at IBM. In fact, 50% of its U.S. jobs are open to anyone with the right skills or a willingness to learn them.
IBM’s CHRO, Nickle LaMoreaux, says this skills-over-degrees approach to hiring was a response to a global shortage of skilled tech workers. There are a lot of ways people obtain those skills, IBM realized, and requiring degrees eliminates thousands of candidates with the skills for the job.
But, as LaMoreaux says, “the half-life of skills is shortening,” which means all workers require constant training. To that end, IBM created structured apprenticeship programs and an internal learning platform — a “Netflix for learning,” as she puts it — tailored to the individual’s skill set and IBM’s needs.
This approach to hiring and upskilling allows IBM to hire a vastly expanded universe of top employees — so many, in fact, that people reentering the job market and those who have never been in it, like high school graduates, can be hired and quickly skilled for IBM jobs. And not just for tech roles. Indeed, LaMoreaux’s HR organization has hired many people without a degree (and she says former retail managers make extraordinary recruiters), which topples a barrier to entry that’s kept minority groups out of future-forward jobs for a long time.