With the rise of the sharing and "gig" economy, along with smartphone penetration, blended learning and rapid app development changing the way we hire, myriad factors are converging together to set the stage for new company recruiting and hiring systems for entry-level employment.

Disruptive innovation transforms an existing market (and product) to create more accessible and affordable solutions through simplicity and convenience.1 After a sequence of innovations, the masses at the bottom of the market begin adopting these technologies. Take for example the very first computer. The mainframe computer was only available for a hefty price for large corporations and highly trained and skilled professionals. Eventually, the desktop computer was introduced to the market, and after many iterations thereafter, came the smartphone. In a sense, this mode of innovation democratizes technology so the product becomes an everyday staple in society.

Is the timing right for a new system of demand-driven workforce development? Can this new model truly disrupt the traditional recruiting and hiring practices within Human Capital Management? We believe that if demand-driven workforce development progresses to a point where private-sector hiring managers begin seeking out non-traditional candidates through alternative recruiting techniques, this model would potentially pose a huge threat to the traditional academic credentialing system. We would expect this system to be a very dynamic, constantly adapting organism, able to scale up and down and train up and down, matching the demand and supply side of the labor market.2


In the near future, companies will most likely continue to utilize a baseline filtering system for job applicants, where high school, or some postsecondary degree is still required. If a company is able to create assessments very specific to the role they're hiring for, employers would then be able to hire based on an exact match in skills and not based on pedigree. Additionally, with this new recruiting model, the time-to-hire shrinks, ratio of candidate-to-hire shrinks, and employee retention increases.

Employers should stop thinking of education and recruiters as mutually exclusive entities. Recruiting and education can be packaged together by functioning as an on-demand education and training provider.

Over time, this demand-driven system would essentially nullify large sections of academia by taking out the entire middle-man for credentialing, especially in liberal arts programs. Employers would be able to rapidly recruit and assess huge population pools of candidates not typically accessible to them through traditional recruiting channels. The model could help employers to easily cut the candidate pool in half through data, and along with competency-based assessments tailored to the employer's needs, this new system would offer tremendous economic value for cutting costs in the recruiting process. One great example of how this system is taking root is with the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative - where cities across the nation are asking youth organizations to pre-screen young people before connecting them with entry-level work.

How At-Risk Youth will be Affected

This new model could serve the entry-level population immensely. Here are several ways in which this new model engages underbanked and at-risk populations:

  • There is currently high smartphone penetration across all socioeconomic groups, making it very easy to match candidates to jobs.  
  • Job seekers will now have access to jobs that match their skills anywhere it's needed, which could give rise to employers offering free or discounted housing for employees as part of pay and benefits package.3
  • This new model will attract app developers to develop hiring apps targeted at the entry-level worker in the gig economy through the use of mobile apps, providing instant matches for on-demand gigs.
  • Leadership from places like Google preferring non-traditional candidates sets the stage for other industries to follow suit.4
  • Enables a new system of lifelong learning and skill development programs based on the needs of the economy.4
  • Employers will continue to invest in their employees while employees benefit by accruing diverse sets of skills through having many different jobs throughout their careers.5

The New Frontier for Online Education Providers

Employers across a diverse array of sectors are collectively recognizing a new need to be able to rapidly develop assessments, aggregate job openings for candidates, administer tests, track student learning, and change training programs very rapidly. Companies will need to work with education providers that not only provides traditional education but have accreditation and the ability to rapidly train and scale to the need of the labor market.

At Penn Foster, we are constantly striving to work towards developing new educational services that serve our partners and our student cohorts. It is our goal to become the market-leading education provider that can rapidly deliver much better candidate matches for the demand-driven economy. There is real business value for the private sector when partnering with an education provider in the demand-driven workforce economy. It's time we work towards actively creating new opportunities and pathways for today's job-seekers and companies to meet each other.

Recommended for You: Why Companies Need Demand-Driven Workforce Development Now " Part I

Resources: Photo Credit (1) Key Concepts: Disruptive Innovation (2) What is a Demand-Driven Workforce System? (3) Employer-Provided Housing: What's Taxable and What's Not? (4) A 2 Apple: Wealth of Nations 2.0 (5) Nuts and Bolts: A New Ecosystem for Workforce Development