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Skills-First Hiring and Apprenticeships are Key to Advancing Black Talent Without Four-Year Degrees According to New Case Study from OneTen

Study, in partnership with Cleveland Clinic and Grads of Life, offers lessons for employer DEI practices and skills-based talent management

NEW YORK, Jan. 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- OneTen, a coalition of leading executives and companies committed to hiring, promoting, and advancing one million Black individuals without four-year degrees into family-sustaining careers, today published Catalyzing Careers through Skills-first Hiring: Insights from Cleveland Clinic, a case study developed in partnership with Cleveland Clinic and Grads of Life that offers a new and exemplary model for employer DEI practices and skills-based talent management.

Key findings from the study revealed that adopting a skills-based approach and re-credentialing roles were proven actions that catalyzed careers for Black talent without four-year degrees, with apprenticeship and executive sponsorship programs generating success in helping advance Black talent into more senior roles.

Read the full report here: Catalyzing Careers through Skills-first Hiring: Insights from Cleveland Clinic

"We know that skills-based hiring is a catalyst for change, especially for Black talent. It's thrilling to see OneTen coalition members like Cleveland Clinic put their commitment into action to exemplify how transformative this work can be," said Maurice Jones, CEO of OneTen. "Our hope is that even more employers will be emboldened by this sense of possibility to adopt these key learnings and hire, promote, and advance more Black talent into family-sustaining careers."

As a founding member of the coalition, Cleveland Clinic began working with OneTen and its strategic partner, Grads of Life—an organization that helps companies create and implement diversity, equity and inclusion strategies—to accelerate its goals to advance racial equity.

In December 2020, Cleveland Clinic committed to a goal of creating, scaling and sustaining a skills-first culture and ensuring equitable career pathways for talent. Cleveland Clinic prioritized community outreach to strengthen trust and created apprenticeship programs to diversify its hiring and build long-term careers. Additionally, Cleveland Clinic made a shift from degree-based hiring to a skills-based approach and developed skills-based career pathways to enable caregivers to advance based on capabilities rather than academic credentials.

Two years into advancing this work, Cleveland Clinic found that:

  • Apprenticeships are a strategic talent pipeline for full-time hires. For people without four-year college degrees, apprenticeships offer opportunities to earn new skills while getting paid, cultivate a professional network and gain more access to jobs with family-sustaining wages. This is especially significant for Black adults, 76% of whom do not have a bachelor's degree. OneTen helped Cleveland Clinic identify and strengthen connections with local talent developers to create its inaugural pharmacy and information technology apprenticeship programs. The success of these programs, alongside Cleveland Clinic's executive sponsorship model, revealed an opportunity. By creating more work-based experiences, the health system could help Black caregivers advance to more senior roles.

  • Shifting to a skills-based approach to hiring is a proven action that catalyzes careers for Black talent. Using OneTen's guidelines to determine which roles to target, Cleveland Clinic re-credentialed or rewrote more than 260 job descriptions to remove unnecessary four-year degree requirements and to rephrase the necessary and desired skills for the roles. Cleveland Clinic has since worked to re-credential more than 2,000 roles to be skills-first and has hired and/or promoted over 1,600 OneTen talent since joining the coalition.

  • Well-defined, clearly communicated pathways for advancement foster greater professional satisfaction and a stronger sense of belonging, particularly for Black talent. The health system found that for its highly in-demand role of medical assistant, most of the essential skills listed did not require a medical assistant degree. In response, Cleveland Clinic created a career pathway that offers participants the training they need to become a medical outpatient clinical care assistant. To date, Cleveland Clinic has removed 80% of the degree requirements for clinical care assistants and has used the pathway model to create more opportunities for similar roles.

"Increasing our hiring and promotion of diverse talent has always been important to Cleveland Clinic and aligns directly with OneTen's mission. Joining the coalition has helped us to improve our workplace inclusivity practices," said Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic and the holder of the Morton L. Mandel CEO Chair.

Catalyzing Careers through Skills-first Hiring: Insights from Cleveland Clinic is the first of three case studies to be released by OneTen this year that will share key findings, best practices and proof points of success in re-credentialing jobs and advancing a skills-first hiring approach across OneTen's national network of employer members, talent developers, community organizations, and Black talent. The next study in the series will focus on Black talent and their OneTen career journeys. 

About OneTen
Founded in 2020, OneTen is a coalition of leading chief executives and their companies who are coming together to upskill, hire and promote one million Black individuals who do not yet have a four-year degree into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement over ten years. OneTen connects employers with talent developers and other skill-credentialing organizations, leading nonprofits and community-based partners who support the development of diverse talent. By creating more equitable and inclusive workforces, we believe we can reach our full potential as a nation of united citizens.

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