Skills-Based Talent Management: A Hot Topic at the 2023 JFF Horizons Conference | Markle %
Skills-Based Talent Management: A Hot Topic at the 2023 JFF Horizons Conference | Markle %

Skills-Based Talent Management: A Hot Topic at the 2023 JFF Horizons Conference

June 23, 2023 - Written By Markle | Blog Archive


The Annual Horizons conference hosted by JFF, serves as a national platform for driving equitable economic advancement through innovative practices and scalable solutions in education and workforce systems.

Held in June in New Orleans, this year’s event gathered leaders from the workforce and education sectors, including members of the Rework America Alliance. Among the valuable lessons learned, the significance of adopting a skills-based approach to talent management emerged as a prominent theme.

Insights from Workforce Leaders and Rework America Alliance Members:

Beth Cobert, Acting President, Markle Foundation, emphasized the need for hiring managers to broaden their perspective and seek talent in unconventional places. “When hiring managers look at talent differently and look for talent in different places, they’re going to find fantastic resources, they’re going to find fantastic people who are going to make a difference in their organization.”

Elyse Rosenblum, Founder and Managing Director, Grads of Life, highlighted the untapped potential within large companies’ frontline workforces. “If you think about large companies that have large workforces and large frontline workforces, their greatest opportunity is to look at that frontline. Understand the skills their frontline workforce has and how they map to jobs with upward mobility.”

Maria Flynn, President and CEO, Jobs for the Future (JFF), discussed the practical implementation of skills-based hiring policies. “It’s one thing to remove degree requirements from your job descriptions, but it’s another thing to actually start hiring folks who have a different background or a different pedigree.”

Sarah Miller, principal adviser, Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, referenced a recent Worker Voices report published by Fed Communities, and noted there was dissonance in the discussion with the workers around how they are talked about, how they feel valued, and how they experience the labor market. “I hope employers really understand the very nuanced picture that job quality means to all of these workers,” says Miller. “They have different needs. They want to be seen as individuals. While wages are absolutely a part of the conversation, there is a slew of non-compensation factors that are not being met, at least from the perspectives of these participants.” 

Why it matters:

Emmeca Strother, who began her work history at a pizza restaurant but is now an IT Systems Administrator at Opportuntity@Work, reminded us employers are missing out if they’re not valuing skills over proxies for skills, such as four-year degrees and previous work titles.

“I think that sometimes people assume that because someone has a degree that you can instantly trust them to be able to do the job. But it’s so important that you focus on the person in front of you to be able to understand how you can trust this person. Will this person show up? A degree won’t tell you that.”


If you missed the 2023 Horizons event, check out WorkingNation’s Overheard series for more event highlights and takeaways.

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