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A large and growing share of job candidates are assessed directly by potential employers on job-related competencies, experts from Ithaka S+R write in a new report. This practice allows employers to supplement or even skip traditional hiring criteria, including the focus on college credentials.

The report attempts to document and evaluate a "wave of rapid innovation" in pre-employment assessment. It found that, because of the perceived gap between job candidates' competencies and employers' needs, some employers are beginning to distrust traditional "signaling credentials" such as college degrees, industry association endorsements and state licensures.

Other major themes the researchers identified include:

  • Third-party providers are rapidly entering this new, technology-driven market and providing new assessment methods.
  • The marketplace is flooded, and choosing an assessment technology can be a burden.
  • Incompatibility of content and software across assessments and employers' human resources systems present barriers to the broad-based and efficient use of direct prehire assessments.
  • Intermediaries, including higher education administrators and industry association officials, often are out of touch with new methodologies used by employers and assessment providers.
  • Emerging partnerships involving several players in the ecosystem that provide integrated, multimethod assessment strategies are best equipped to successfully measure and develop job candidates' skills.