It’s a tough labour market in the UK right now. For one thing, nearly a quarter of working-age Britons aren’t currently working. That’s nearly 11 million people. And about nine million aren’t actively looking for a job.

Are you noticing slim pickings when tapping your traditional sourcing pipelines?

Korn Ferry’s Talent Acquisition Trends 2024 reports that this lack is leading employers to rethink traditional ways of plugging skills gaps. Arbitrary degree requirements are becoming a thing of the past and not necessarily reliable indicators of candidate quality. In an approach that Harvard Business Review describes as ‘shredding the paper ceiling’, recruiters are casting their hiring net wider to encompass non-traditional candidates, focussing on skills rather than schooling.

LinkedIn data confirms this trend: recruiters are now five times more likely to search for candidates by demonstrated abilities rather than degrees. Think C++ rather than Computer Science BSc.

Could this shift mark an era where ability is (finally) rewarded above the pedigree of your university or past employers?

This skills-based revolution presents an opportunity to proactively source talent from diverse channels. Here are a couple of pipelines available to you right now.

In-house potential

Are there hidden gems in your existing talent pool waiting to be discovered? These employees already possess the know-how and aptitude for your new roles but lack traditional credentials. This has prevented them from going for professional opportunities in the past or even being aware of them.

Focussing on existing in-house talent also helps you avoid the “quiet quit” trend. Identifying and nurturing the skills of those feeling stagnant and unchallenged in their current roles can be a powerful way to re-engage them. By offering opportunities for development and career advancement, you’ll leverage their valuable experience and knowledge and divert them in new directions. The result? Increased job satisfaction, renewed sense of value being added and productivity   – a win-win for all. Some large organisations, such as Amazon and EY, are blazing a trail in not only finding but also developing the talent their businesses need. Their in-house universities, business schools and apprenticeship programmes provide training that cultivates credentials customised to the specific needs of the business.

Early careers hiring

Have you considered tapping into secondary schools, colleges and non-traditional educational institutions to find young candidates with raw potential and transferable skills? The introduction of T Levels in 2020 expanded this recruitment pipeline even further.

By offering industry placements or apprenticeships to post-GCSE students, you can ensure young people develop the abilities and experience your industry needs. More specifically, you could start to hone your future employees’ skills and talents to fill the niche needs of your company. Finding ways to bridge the gap between education and employment is more important than ever before.

The benefits beyond equity for your business

  • Budget-wise, entry-level talent often comes at a lower salary cost, a major boon in these tight times.
  • Giving opportunities to people from a wide range of backgrounds leads to a more diverse, inclusive workforce. And the wider the talent pool, the easier it is for you to hit DE&I goals.
  • Expanding your talent pool to include non-traditional experience and credentials will inject new ideas and fresh perspectives into your business.
  • Hiring for specific skills ensures your workforce is equipped with the skills needed to handle the current and future needs of the organisation.

Considerations and long-term outlook

Of course, you’ll need robust screening processes to objectively assess candidates without the traditional reliance on degrees. But the potential is vast. We may be edging closer to a workplace where:

  • Skill portfolios overshadow formal degrees.
  • Hidden talent from diverse backgrounds has a real chance to break through.
  • You’ll boast a workforce truly tailored to the challenges ahead.

Skills-based hiring is gaining traction as employers recognise it presents exciting possibilities to create a more equitable, relevant and future-proof workforce. If you’re struggling to fill an open role, cast your net further by filtering your search by Skills rather than Degrees. And explore outside of your traditional sourcing channels.

Further interesting resources include:

9 Trends That Will Shape Work in 2024 and Beyond (

9 Trends That Will Shape Work in 2023 and Beyond (

How to Get Started with Skills-Based Hiring | LinkedIn