Employment and the Skills Gap
In the wake of the pandemic and the lockdown orders that curtailed business operations, unemployment in the United States shot up to 14.7% in April, 2020 and still remained above double digits in the summer.
Yet there are still positions that remain unfilled due to the perceived gap between the skills required for the job and that which the candidates offer. Earlier this year. A US Chamber Foundation survey found:
“74% of respondents agreed there has been a lack of skilled talent among the available workforce.”
The challenge is finding the people with the skills required. It takes more than a search of keywords on a candidate’s resume or online profile.
The Problem with Candidates’ Self-Representation
People know that recruiters do look for candidates on LinkedIn, which gives applicants an incentive to embellish their record. According to the findings of a LendEDU poll, more than a third of LinkedIn profiles are likely inaccurate.
Nearly a quarter of respondents conceded, “There are a few lies.” Another 11 percent admitted,
“My profile is almost entirely made up of things I have never done.”
What do they usually lie about? Most – that is, 55 percent – lie about their skills. Less than half that amount – 26 percent – lie about the dates of their work experience. And a tenth admitted that they make up their work experience altogether.
Given the high cost of hiring someone, savvy hiring managers often find it worthwhile to invest the extra time and money in some form of background check. These can reveal certain red flags, but only a really expensive and thorough month-long background check can dig far enough to uncover the truth when candidates set up a false trail. A lot of employers don’t have the resources for that. (Read also: IT Recruitment 101.)
Blockchain: Better than Etched in Stone
Given that manual checks are imperfect at best, the solution to establishing a reliable record may lie in blockchain technology. (Read also: Do You Fear Blockchain? 5 Cybersecurity Benefits.) That’s the view of Debassis Dutta, Vice President and General Manager, Products at SumTotal Systems.
His company is among the founding members of the nonprofit Velocity Network Foundation, along with Aon's Assessment Solutions, Cisive, Cornerstone, HireRight, Korn Ferry, National Student Clearinghouse, Randstad, SAP, SSHL, Ultimate Software, Unit4, Upwork, Velocity Career Labs and ZipRecruiter.
Together they’re working on building a blockchain solution to create a reliable record of candidate credentials. “It’s a career record moving across the individual, “Dutta explained in an interview with Techopedia, that they call “the Internet of Careers™”
The Way We Work Now
Dutta explained that it’s necessary to have this career record now because the data on people’s work experience is far more dispersed than it was in the past. People used to take a job at a company and stay there for a decade or two, which kept the bulk of their work history centralized.
That is no longer the case, as most employees today jump from company to company every couple of years. Some don’t even stick around that long as they get their work through freelance jobs in the gig economy. That’s the trend he sees for Generation Z, “ a lot more hopping around.”
As a result, their work experience is scattered all over, some in LinkedIn, some in Github, and that raises the question for prospective employers if they can trust the data. Dutta reported that 84% of employers have found lies on candidates’ representation, and once they do, they have to restart their search process and activate yet another background check on the next candidate, which costs them time and money.
The solution to the problem of trustworthy accounts here is a data record that validates not just employment but skills that can easily be shared by the job candidate. All the data is already verified and certified as reliable and unaltered on the blockchain. That streamlines the verification process and allows the candidates to control who gets the file on them. (Read also: The Future of Blockchain: Experts Predict the Next Big Use of Blockchain Technology.)
While it is still being built up, there are plans to put the solution to the test in pilot programs before rolling out on a larger scale. Dutta anticipates that the full launch will take place in May of
2021. It is gaining traction from the Interoperable Learning Record (now the LER, the Learning & Employment Record) a White House initiative intended to develop a record of employee credentials that will facilitate advancing to better paying jobs.
The attributes of the record the foundation is devoted to building include the following:
Secured: Built on a blockchain designed with the highest security in mind.
Cost-effective: Verified records are shared digitally, eliminating costly manual processes.
Verified and trusted: Credentials are digitally signed by the issuing authority
One network: Open source, vendor neutral platform, governed by a collaborative, democratic, nonprofit foundation.
Self-sovereign: Users have sole ownership and control over their records and personal data.
What This Means for the Future of Work
Dutta sees “this unified, immutable career record,” as the solution to the perceived skills gap. By transforming “how career records are shared across the global markets and empowering individuals,” it’s possible to prove their credentials and get them hired more quickly and efficiently, whether they get a permanent position or something short term in the gig economy.
It also helps bring to light who inside the company may be a good fit for an opening at a higher level.The record of skills will encourage internal mobility as it will offer proof of qualifications. That helps internal employees advance without having to leave the company.
I asked if recruiters would then be knocked out of the loop. Dutta answered that he believes they won’t be put out of business and will be able to close more of their assigned positions thanks to the verification of candidates.
I then asked about diversity. Dutta said he believes that the unbiased record of credentials attesting to the employee’s qualifications will carry greater weight than biases against gender, race, or ethnicity filtering people out. (Read also: A Women in Tech Study: Motivation, Recruitment, Retainment.)
Any unethical practices in hiring would actually come to light due to the proof in the data, and so the solution for skills validation can also help solve the problem and promote greater diversity at a company.
“I think it’s a win-win everywhere,” he said.