Skills as the new currency

Careers no longer progress in a neat line from learning to earning to retirement. Not only are people more likely to change jobs and even career tracks over the course of their lifetimes, freelancers who contract out their skills rather than work for an employer have become a significant portion of the labor market. Nearly half of working millennials fall into this category.

This shift is starting to transform human resource strategy and the traditional job hunt. Whereas candidates used to find jobs based on the institutions they attended and the social networks they developed, skills are the new metric for assessment.

The good news is that a skills-based economy is a more egalitarian one. Relying on pedigree allowed for social inequalities, giving people who had access to elite institutions and networks an unfair advantage while leaving many skilled individuals without access to roles where they would excel. It also led to labor market inefficiencies, as companies made hiring decisions without fully understanding the skills that a candidate brought with them.

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