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Skills First

Reimagining the Labor Market and Breaking Down Barriers

This is a GitHub site with information provided by LinkedIn. Use of this page is governed by the applicable GitHub terms, LinkedIn's data is provided pursuant to the User Agreement here. The data may not be used except as set forth in the foregoing terms.

The global labor market has long been opaque, inefficient, and unequal, but these challenges are becoming more problematic than ever as the nature of work changes. Demographic changes are causing a decline in the working population in many countries, technological advances mean an increase in the demand for highly skilled labor, and there are significant changes in the qualifications and skills needed in today’s economies. Recent LinkedIn data shows that the skills that employees need for a given position have shifted by around 25% since 2015; by 2027, this number is expected to double.

Governments and businesses today are tasked with navigating a dynamic talent market that poses many challenges to staffing critical industries and filling open jobs. But current methods of finding talent often exclude workers who may have the capabilities businesses are looking for because they don’t have the traditional experience or credentials for the role. A recent survey confirmed that 88% of hirers agree that they are filtering out highly skilled candidates just because they lack traditional credentials such as past job title or degree.

It comes down to this: How can we all, collectively across government, business, and the workforce, take a fundamentally new approach to human capital?

We know that great talent is everywhere — but opportunity is not. The future labor market will be about analyzing, accessing, and mobilizing people’s potential and skills in new ways. This starts with taking a skills-first approach to talent: putting skills at the forefront of talent strategies by recognizing an individual for their capabilities and breaking down roles into the capabilities required to do them well.

Let’s take a look at what a skills-first approach might look like.

Expanding Opportunities with a Skills-First Approach

A visualization showing 0 people inside of a spotlight, representing the increase factor of the pipeline.

Let’s say a company is trying to fill a role for a Supply Chain Manager.

The company could look at candidates that have previous experience as Supply Chain Managers. A reasonable approach since these candidates are likely to have many of the skills that the company is looking for.

But this would limit the talent pool. Workers in similar jobs like Demand Planner and Inventory Analyst might have never held Supply Chain Manager positions but they use many of the same skills the company is looking for, like Purchasing, Inventory Control, and Forecasting.

If we focus on workers in jobs that use many of the same skills, instead of just looking at past job experience, we can grow the talent pool. In this case there are 17x more workers working in jobs with relevant skills compared to just those who have held the same role.

The same idea extends to entire industries.

Take Manufacturing. A skills-first approach could grow the talent pool for jobs common across the industry like Facilities Manager (5x), Logistics Analyst (11x), and Procurement Analyst (15x), leading to an overall skills-first growth for the entire industry of around 10x.

Same for the Financial Services industry, where jobs like Bank Clerk (13x), Accounting Specialist (16x), and Risk Management Associate (17x) could help grow the talent pool for the whole industry by nearly 12x.

In Consumer Services, jobs like Marketing Assistant (11x), Communications Manager (16x), and Content Manager (19x) help grow the skills-first talent pool of the industry by 15x.

A skills-first approach helps broaden the talent pool because it can identify workers who have the capabilities to do a job even if they haven’t had directly related job titles. Broadening the talent pool in this way can be particularly beneficial for some groups that have historically faced barriers in the labor market, like women or workers without bachelors degrees.

A skills-first approach increases female representation in talent pools. In jobs that currently have low female representation, the number of women in the talent pool typically increases by 8x, which is 24% higher than the increase for men in the same jobs.

Similarly, a skills-first approach also expands the talent pool for workers who don’t have bachelor's degrees.

These workers would experience an increase in their talent pool by around 9x, which is 9% greater than the talent pool expansion for workers with bachelors degrees.

The challenges we face as we struggle to fill roles, weather economic shifts, and create a diverse and resilient workforce will grow unless we change our approach to finding and growing talent. We’re still in the early days of the paradigm shift to skills-first, but the findings in this report suggest a skills-first labor market can benefit both employers and employees in the long run.

We have a unique opportunity today to change the way we hire and make skills count for more. And with the collective effort and support of policymakers, business leaders, and workers across the globe, we believe we can create a talent ecosystem that is more efficient and more equitable.

What we can do

How can we collectively deepen and accelerate this transition to a skills-first approach to talent? Here are some steps that policymakers, businesses and workers can take to adopt, foster, benefit from and advocate for a skills-first approach.


Support skills-first hiring to open new opportunities for workers while ensuring critical parts of our economy are staffed.

  • Develop national and local skills-first hiring strategies
  • Be ambassadors for skills-first hiring
  • Fund public efforts to provide workers with in-demand skills and match them to growing jobs
  • Reconsider education and work requirements on government job postings, including those contracted through third party vendors
  • Expand funds available for incumbent employee training, particularly for workers most likely to be displaced due to changing skill demands

Business Leaders

Expand and diversify your talent pool with a skills-first strategy.

  • Understand the skills your organization has and needs
  • Embrace skills-first hiring practices, externally and internally
  • Develop employees to grow with your company


Find and stand out for jobs you are interested in by developing and showcasing your skills.

  • Gain skills for the job you want
  • Build in-demand skills
  • Invest in keeping your skills sharp
  • Highlight your skills on your LinkedIn profile and resume

For more on what policymakers, business leaders, and workers can do, read the full Skills-First report.


This body of work represents the world seen through LinkedIn data, drawn from the anonymised and aggregated profile information of LinkedIn's 900+ million members around the world. As such, it is influenced by how members choose to use the platform, which can vary based on professional, social and regional culture, as well as overall site availability and accessibility.

Our skills data comes from the skills LinkedIn members add to their profiles. We use this data to construct the LinkedIn Skills Genome, which identifies the most representative skills for a job and forms the basis for our skills analysis. We only associate a job with a skill if a very high number of workers have that skill on their profile when they hold that associated job.

In this analysis, we compare the direct-experience talent pool with a skills-first talent pool. The direct-experience pool refers to the number of potential candidates that have held a given target occupation in the last 5 years. The skills-first talent pool looks at hiring for a target occupation by looking at potential candidates who have held roles in the last 5 years that contain relevant skills for the target occupation.

The skills-first talent pool increase refers to the ratio of eligible workers for a given occupation identified using a skills-first talent pool approach, compared to the number of eligible workers for a given occupation identified using the direct-experience approach. When aggregating a list of jobs at a country or industry level, we take the median talent pool increase for said group.

In our analysis, we only included workers in this pool that have held occupations from which we have observed transitions into the target occupation. This helps eliminate transitions that may have common skills but are unlikely to occur for a variety of reasons, including licensing or training (e.g., Nurse to Doctor) or large drops in seniority (e.g., Chief Financial Analyst to Financial Analyst).

In publishing these insights from LinkedIn's Economic Graph, we want to provide accurate statistics while ensuring our members' privacy. As a result, all data show aggregated information for the corresponding period following strict data quality thresholds that prevent disclosing any information about specific individuals.

If not explicitly self-identified, we have inferred the gender of members included in this analysis either by the pronouns used on their LinkedIn profiles, or inferred on the basis of first name. Members whose gender could not be inferred as either man or woman were excluded from this analysis.

User Terms

This is a GitHub site with information provided by LinkedIn. Use of this page is governed by the applicable GitHub terms, LinkedIn's data is provided pursuant to the User Agreement here. The data may not be used except as set forth in the foregoing terms.

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