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Changemakers: Workday Is Addressing the Opportunity Gap by Hiring for Skills and Potential, Not Pedigree

Workday's Ingrid Franzen is sparking a hiring revolution for nontraditional talent.

December 17, 2020

At a Glance

Workday’s Ingrid Franzen is sparking a hiring revolution for nontraditional talent.

Carey O'Connor
Practices & Centers
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Reading about the U.S. jobs outlook during the pandemic highlights an interesting dichotomy. There are a record number of Americans out of work (the unemployment rate was around 6.7 percent in December 2020), yet many industries and employers are facing labor shortages. How is this possible? How can a labor shortage exist when so many people are looking for work?

Employers often say they’re encountering a “skills gap”—they can’t find enough people with the right skills for open positions. The end result, they say, is that numerous jobs go unfilled even though they’re recruiting aggressively.

Workday, a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources, thinks the real problem is an opportunity gap, not a skills shortage.

Founded in 2005, Workday is deeply rooted in putting people at the center of enterprise software. Its current products include applications for financial management, human resources, planning, expenditure management, and analytics. The company had annual revenue of $3.6 billion in its last fiscal year, and its customers include some of the world’s largest companies—Bank of America, Chevron, Netflix, and Target, to name a few.

Since Workday is accustomed to solving human capital challenges, it’s not surprising that it’s tackling the current talent and skills shortage in an especially innovative way. Its approach is simple: Rethink hiring with a focus on skills and potential over pedigree.

Currently, corporate hiring is governed by traditional talent acquisition models that rely on recruiters sorting through resumes using keywords that often include bachelor’s degree and job titles that match the roles they are trying to fill. The downside to this approach is that nontraditional candidates—people who may not have had the opportunity to pursue a four-year college education or had never had a chance to work in a corporate job—typically get screened out before they’re able to prove themselves.

To address this, Workday created an innovative workforce development movement called Opportunity Onramps® dedicated to fostering economic opportunity for all. Through various workforce development programs, Opportunity Onramps provides training, internships, and job opportunities to jobseekers from nontraditional backgrounds, including veterans, caregivers and parents returning to work after an absence, and talented young adults without a four-year college degree.

So how does Opportunity Onramps work, and is it changing how hiring managers screen potential talent? JFF’s Carey O’Connor recently met with Ingrid Franzen, Workday’s vice president of strategic planning for technology and an Opportunity Onramps champion.

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