General Motors joins the long list of companies recruiting for skills over degrees

today2022.07.07. 4977 7 5


Farai Mugabe, Content & Research, The HR Congress


McKinsey & Company, Google, IBM and now General Motors indicate that they do not hire for degrees but for skills. When you focus on what skills are actually required for a position instead of a degree, it allows you the opportunity to open the aperture to another pool of talent.

The HR Congress recently published an article entitled, “Skills not degrees: Recruiting a workplace-ready tech workforce.” This article explains how companies are dumping recruiting for degrees and focusing more on skills. Companies are interested in results, such as driving sales, communicating well with customers, fixing technical problems, and removing software bugs. That is what skills focus on—the delivery of results. On the other hand, having a degreed workforce does not automatically mean that employees have the capabilities to deliver what is required.1

General Motors, the largest car manufacturer in the United States, has become one of the latest companies to dump recruiting for degrees and focus on skill-based recruitment. Accordingly, the company reportedly dumped a four-year degree requirement on selected jobs to focus on skills. If effectively executed, this strategy will go a long way in assisting the company to find workplace-ready talent.1 

In a recent interview, Tammy Golden, General Motors Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, told Automotive News that the company aims to become a more inclusive business through this initiative. “From a soft skills perspective, we needed people who can connect with people. When you focus on what’s required of the job versus, say, a four-year degree as your ticket in, it allows you the opportunity to open the aperture to another pool of talent.”Quite often, talent which can do the job more effectively are excluded because they do not have a degree. Research by Accenture, Grads of Life, and Harvard Business School indicates that this is killing competitiveness and potential.3

Several roles suffer from degree inflation. This is a situation where companies require a degree for a role where the skills required to do the job do not require a degree. Research by The Burning Glass Institute indicates that “employers are resetting degree requirements in a wide range of roles, dropping the requirement for a bachelor’s degree in many middle-skill and even higher roles.” Accordingly, some 46% of middle-skill and 31% of high-skill occupations have had a degree reset between 2017 and 2019.4

Other companies such as McKinsey and Company, Google, and IBM indicate that they do not hire for degrees but for skills. While academic degrees are critical in developing skills and boosting staff’s intellectual capacity, skill-based recruitment’s impact cannot be underestimated.1 The environment has been changing, and there has been a rise in the demand for talent. Companies often struggle to get the right talent with the right skills they require. Therefore, companies need to reimagine how they recruit and attract talent with the right skills required.7

The environment continues to change, and businesses face huge challenges in an ever-changing environment. HR leaders will meet at the HR Congress Techfest on 27 September 2022 to discuss how technology impacts the people management field.8 

They will meet again on 29 November 2022 at the HR Congress World Summit to explore how HR professionals can rise to the current challenges and take specific actions to navigate the environment. The theme for the HR Congress World Summit is inspired by Professor Dave Ulrich and is entitled, “HR’s New Horizon, Creating Sustained Human Capability.”9

1Skills not degrees: Recruiting a workplace-tech workforce, Farai Mugabe, HR Congress

2GM drops 4 year requirement for many jobs, will focus on skills, by Hannah Lutz

3Dismissed by degrees: How degree inflation is undermining U.S competitiveness and hurting America’s middle class, by Joseph B. Fuller, Manjari Raman, Michelle Harker, Melissa A. Moloney, Robbin Boggs, Elyse Rosenblum, and Valerie Beilenson, Research by Accenture, Grads of Life, and Harvard Business School indicates

4The emerging degree reset, by Joseph B. Fuller, Christina Langer, Julia Tischike and Layla O’Kane, The Burning Glass Institute

5General Motors: Facts & Related Content, by The Information Architects of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Britannica

7Recruiting is harder than it looks: 74 % of companies underperform, by Josh Bersin, Josh Bersin Academy



Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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