Why the Surge in Skills-Focused STEM Hiring?


A revolution is brewing in STEM recruitment. In a landscape defined by rapid tech advancements and complex scientific breakthroughs, emerging disciplines in cutting-edge areas like Renewable Energy, Industrial Automation, and Biomanufacturing are creating new skill sets, expertise, or knowledge almost daily. So, many companies are moving from traditional hiring practices, which often prioritize credentials above all, to an innovative model that signals a new era in talent acquisition.

Skills-based hiring is taking center stage, with promise to deliver not just employees, but teams of dynamic talent, uniquely fit to propel us into the future. Here's why this shift isn't just a trendy buzzword, but an imperative step for the industry at large and companies that want to gain an edge.

What is Skills-Based Hiring?

Skills-based hiring is a recruitment strategy that prioritizes the practical abilities and potential of candidates to perform specific job functions over their academic pedigrees. It involves evaluating transferable and job-specific skills, as well as the ability of candidates to acquire new skills on the job.

This approach is based on the idea that the capabilities which contribute to individual and organizational success are not solely conveyed through formal education or previous job roles—but are often shown through practical competencies and the aptitude for continuous learning. A recruiting partner like Kelly can help you in this respect, to identify the right expertise or transferrable skills that can work from other domains, disciplines, or even geographies you may not know as well as your own.


Why STEM Companies Need Skills-Based Hiring.

Higher Quality of Candidates.

Hiring mistakes can have substantial financial repercussions for any organization, potentially costing between five to 27 times the employee’s salary. A skills-based approach allows companies to tap into a wider, more diverse talent pool, encompassing candidates who may have been overlooked due to non-traditional career paths, thereby reducing the risk of costly hiring mistakes.

For one example, as a relatively young field, employers in Biomanufacturing are struggling to find enough qualified talent with the right therapeutic, manufacturing, and regulatory expertise. So, Kelly is finding innovative ways to reach a wider audience from areas with transferable skills, like this recent Expert Exchange Series event we hosted for employers and candidates in Cell & Gene Therapy.


Enhanced Employee Retention.

Studies have shown that skills-based hiring is more indicative of job performance and satisfaction. Employees feel more valued when their skills directly align with their job responsibilities, fostering longer tenure in the company, particularly among those without traditional college degrees. Retention is another area where an expert like Kelly excels, demonstrated in this recent case for Manufacturing Associates at leader in vaccines.


Greater Workforce Diversity.

Skills-centric hiring promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion by offering opportunities to talented individuals who may face financial or systemic barriers to higher education. This approach helps to level the playing field, enabling companies to benefit from a broader array of perspectives and experiences. Again, this benefit can be enhanced by the right recruiting partner. For instance, Kelly Engineering already outpaces the graduating average by 30% for placing women in engineering.


Best Practices for Implementing Skills-Based Hiring.

Define Skill Sets.

Clearly identifying the skills required for a position is the first step in adopting a skills-based hiring approach. Including both hard and soft skills, and considering how these can be demonstrated and assessed, is crucial. Here a partner can offer you more insight on specific segments of talent, as in this Hiring Outlook for Industrial Automation.


Utilize Assessments.

Pre-employment assessments offer a practical way to evaluate candidates’ abilities beyond their resumes. Implementing such assessments as part of the recruitment process can significantly streamline candidate selection, ensuring that the focus remains on practical skills.


Structured Interview Process.

Structuring the interview process to include quantifiable metrics for evaluating skills ensures consistency and objectivity, helping to identify candidates who are genuinely the best fit for the role.


Leverage Expertise.

Partnering with recruitment experts like those at Kelly, who specialize in skills-based hiring, can provide invaluable insights and support in optimizing your hiring process. Consider this final case, where we helped a revolutionary start-up in energy storage technology get the expert talent it needed to thrive.

It reflects how at Kelly, we understand the critical importance of matching the right talent with the right opportunities. By leveraging our experience in skills-centric hiring, we offer you a pathway to not just fill vacancies but to onboard individuals who will drive innovation, enhance diversity, and contribute to your long-term success. We’re the experts at hiring experts. Reach out to us today to learn how we can transform your hiring process and ensure your company is ready for the future.


For more information on how Kelly can support your need for STEM talent, visit our web site . 

As a niche recruitment specialist, Kelly Science & Clinical, Engineering, and Technology is ready to partner with you. We provide a full portfolio of customized talent solutions to complement your business needs that includes contract, contract to hire, direct hire, and managed solutions through statementworX, where we manage an entire team, project, or function according to your requirements. 

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