How Skill-Based Work is Reshaping the Workforce

By 2030, there will be more than 85 million high-skill jobs to fill. But don’t break into a sweat just yet — when it comes to skill-based hiring and job-hunting, this change is a good thing, for everyone.

Rachel Ayotte — September 27, 2023

By 2030, there will be more than 85 million high-skill jobs to fill. So how can the workforce, used to using GPAs and impressive degrees as markers of success, find its footing in this huge shift?

Don’t break into a sweat just yet — when it comes to skill-based hiring and job-hunting, this change is a good thing, for everyone.

What is skill-based work, really?

Skill-based work is — you guessed it — all about bringing specific mastery, or skills into the workplace. 

With the rise of rapid technological advancements, rising inflation, a demand for remote work, and an ever-looming recession, job specialization has become more necessary than ever before. The workforce must adopt this new kind of hiring and retention. 


So, what’s in it for both employers and employees?

Skill-based work is beneficial for the health and longevity of many organizations, and for long-term employability— here’s why:

Encourages better job performance

Hiring candidates based on their skills, rather than their accolades, is five times more predictive of job performance than hiring for education.

For candidates, this is great news, too: Employees can use concrete achievements (think measurable KPIs) at work to advocate for a higher salary, a promotion, or even bonuses (if applicable).

Expands the talent pool 

By ditching the Ivy League school accolades and GPAs as part of the employee screening process, employers have a wider selection of applicants to choose from. 

Plus, skill-based hiring is an efficient tool for bringing more diversity into the workforce — a benefit for everyone. Those who identify as BIPOC, disabled, neurodivergent, and candidates from varied socio-economic backgrounds, for example, have a better chance of getting hired.

Cost effective

When advertising for skill-based positions, employers are more likely to fill position vacancies faster. This means employers can spend less money on finding the right talent and onboarding. For employees, this means employers have more room in their budget for salaries, bonuses, and other perks.

Retains employees long-term

More than 80% of workers’ decisions to quit involved their desire to learn more and climb the ranks, but an employer’s inability to provide opportunities to do so internally. 

Skill-based work can provide a clear career trajectory, which is beneficial for both employees looking to grow, and employers looking to hold onto their talent.


For the Employer

Integrating skill-based workforce practices into the workplace happens at three different levels: developing and advertising the job, hiring applicants, and retaining them.

Developing and advertising 

Skill-based work all starts well before hiring, during the development and advertisement of the job itself. To nail it, be sure to:

  1. Identify the necessary skills: Before pressing “publish” on your LinkedIn job ad, take the time with the appropriate stakeholders to consider exactly what skills are necessary for the job you’re hiring for.
  2. List skills as necessities: Instead of listing specific skills as preferred competencies, note that they’re required of applicants and that there will be specific questions around those skills.
  3. Mention skill-based testing: In your job ad, note that part of the interview process will require objective, skill-based testing (more on this later!).


When sorting through applications, and identifying top candidates, ask interviewers to participate in objective methods of screening:

  • Work samples/simulations: Ask potential employees to provide a specific sample of work that is related to your job opportunity.
  • Skill assessment: Evaluate a candidate’s specific job-related skills by asking them to complete, for example, coding tests, writing samples, or graphic design projects (depending on the job requirements).
  • Situational assessments: Test a candidate’s judgment, problem-solving skills, and ethics with hypothetical workplace scenarios.

For more subjective skills like “cultural fit” or interest in the organization, develop an objective set of standards or rubric for hiring managers to fill out, which serve to score and quantify the information.



  • Clear career growth: By offering specific career pathways full of future skill-building, transparent promotions, and salary increases related to learning new, necessary skills, employees will be more inclined to stay put.
  • Team dedication to learning: Make upskilling a priority in the workplace by mandating specific learning times. For example, create a DEAL (Drop Everything And Learn). A stellar retention tactic from The Upskilling Imperative, a DEAL takes up little of employees’ time, while also promoting team skill-building.


For the Employee

To become invaluable to employers, expand their job pool, create a more sustainable career path for themselves, and develop a competitive advantage when it comes to hiring, it’s essential to develop skills that you can leverage in your role (no surprise here).

Identifying potential skills to develop

When deciding which skills to learn and hone, reflect on past job experiences and ask yourself a few key questions as outlined in the blink Own It. Love It. Make It Work.:

  • What knowledge could’ve helped me finish past projects? 
  • What abilities did my teammates have that I didn’t?
  • What skills were favored in my past jobs?
  • What skills were becoming high in demand at my last job?
  • What kinds of skills were they looking for in new hires?

In addition, regardless of your past roles, try and identify skills that might remain economically viable for years to come. These are skills, according to Humans are Underrated, that always come in handy and you can fall back on regardless of your role, industry, or focus.

Identifying skills you’ve already nailed

For most of us, this is a tricky one. 

If you need help identifying what skills you’ve learned from past experiences, try experimenting with new technology. In Long Life Learning, Michelle R. Weise recommends ​​taking advantage of AI-powered guidance systems, which can help pinpoint potential skills you may have learned on the job, but didn’t realize.

Get to upskilling

Once you’ve identified what skills you have and can build on, along with what skills you need to learn and develop, it’s time to get to work.

In order to upskill, follow these best practices:

  • Set clear learning goals: Determine a few key ways that you’ll measure the success of your learning — what KPIs will you track?
  • Create a learning plan: Decide whether you’ll pursue a formal education plan like signing up for a class or webinar series to earn a certification. Or, if you’ll learn through mentorship or self-guided studying (like reading books and manuals on coding, data analysis, or sales — or whatever skill you’re learning).
  • Stay in the conversation: Learning does not happen in a silo. Join educational cohorts, online forums, or other communities related to your skill-building to keep tabs on industry trends and new developments. Use these online spaces to network, ask questions, and share progress, too.
  • Make feedback your friend: To really succeed, you’ll need to be open to constructive criticism (a little frightening, we know). Proactively ask for feedback from mentors (informal or formal ones), and take the time to revise and adapt. 


Making the switch to skill-based work

Skill-based work will require a bit of an adjustment  — especially for employers used to hiring based on GPA, and candidates that have invested in creating spotless resumes. But, the move to a skill-based workforce, in the long run, will keep both employers and employees thriving and evolving.


Rachel Ayotte, the author of this article, is a creative and savvy Boston-based freelance writer with a background in traditional journalism, book publishing, SEO marketing, copywriting, and UX writing. When she’s not writing or editing (or reading!), you can find her baking chocolate chip cookies, running, or needle-felting.

Embrace your teams’ skills

Blinkist for Business provides members with access to high-quality content in a concise and engaging format, allowing you to quickly learn new skills, and perfect the ones you have.

Get started