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Knowledge theory has traditionally placed a premium on the explicit definition of skills. Although in-demand skills are recognized as inherently valuable, the less specific their definition, the less value they carry. In today's world, a higher education degree or “related experience,” without a clearly defined skill set doesn’t suffice. As we navigate further into the digital age, the emphasis on skills has taken on a renewed urgency, driven in part by accelerating technological advancements and the evolving demands of the global labor market.
The contemporary labor landscape is at a pivotal crossroads. The ongoing skills gap (or the discrepancy between the capabilities job seekers hold and the proficiencies companies need), is more pronounced than ever, especially when it comes to technical skills. This has left a bevy of unfilled positions, slowed economic growth, and limited opportunity for career growth. While still greatly respected, the conventional centers of learning are no longer the only ones that govern employability. This is leading to an increased emphasis on a skills-first approach for hiring.
While in the past a “formal education” or college degree has been considered an almost necessary steppingstone to greater job opportunity, the paradigm is shifting, and rapidly. They were the golden tickets to job opportunities. The winds of change, fueled by rapid technological advancements, are reshaping this reality, and college degrees are no longer the only “golden ticket to job opportunity”. The ‘skills gap’ we're talking about is the shift in what organizations are looking for in terms of talent, yet job seekers frequently lack the specific technical skills—or proof of those technical skills—that they demand.
The skills mismatch
Recent data offers a telling narrative. The World Economic Forum suggests that while automation might disrupt 85 million jobs by 2025, it could also create 97 million new jobs. These jobs, blending human creativity with machine efficiency, emphasize the importance of skills in the future labor landscape. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020) echoes this sentiment, pointing to 800,000 potential job vacancies due to the skills mismatch.
While self-training through technical learning systems is a viable solution, inconsistencies in the proficiency necessary to earn proof of those skills—or ‘credentials’—undermines the credibility of those self-attributed skills. A 2022 study by Jobs for the Future revealed that while 80% of employers prioritize skills over degrees, 52% still view degrees as the safer hiring metric.
So, how do we bridge this gap? The solution lies in a paradigm shift towards skills-based hiring, and a consistent and reliable way to validate those skills. This approach, more than a passing trend, is a strategic redirection, addressing the interaction between technology, labor needs, and the demand for specialized skills. By prioritizing skills that are verified through reputable learning platforms and standardized skills frameworks, employers can access a larger, more diverse talent pool and strengthen their competitive edge on a global scale.
Resources for the future-ready professional
For those poised to lead in this new landscape, Microsoft Learn offers an abundance of resources and training. Here are a few recommendations on where to start:
- Train with Microsoft Learn for the most in-demand technical skills: Microsoft Learn is a treasure trove of AI-centered training and interactive learning modules. Chart your unique learning journey based on your career goals. Did we mention it's free? For starters, try our highly rated training module Introduction to Azure OpenAI Service - Training | Microsoft Learn.
- Explore Microsoft Certifications and free exam readiness resources: Earn your next certification and harness our comprehensive resources on Microsoft Learn to prepare for your exam day, including free practice assessments.
A Microsoft Certification is a great way to validate your technical skills for your next career move. If you’re not sure where to start, here are two of the most popular certifications:
Find your next certification by browsing the Microsoft Learn Certifications page.
- Skill up and showcase your expertise: Seek the skills you need for your next career move and keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date.
- Stay current with certifications and skills: Stay updated with new training and assessments. The Microsoft Learn newsletter will keep you informed about updates and exciting announcements!
The future is skills-centric
The message is clear as we move closer to a transformational era: talents are preferred when selecting the best individuals, and better yet, when descriptors are tied to education degrees, certification certificates, and separate training. However, there are recognized issues with how skills are described and assessed in the current education and training platforms. There are many advancements within the skills communities that are enabling clear, standard references. By emphasizing skills, employers can access a diverse talent spectrum, bridge the skills gap, and reinforce their global economic position.
Register and join us at Microsoft Ignite on November 15-16, 2023, to hear more about what’s coming and exciting news to be shared. Follow us on X and LinkedIn, and make sure you’re subscribed to “The Spark,” our recently enhanced LinkedIn newsletter!