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Employer Perceptions of the Value of Worker Skills and Credentials: An AARP Survey

Work experience and educational credentials have long been the primary means by which employers evaluate the fitness of job candidates when reviewing applications and choosing whom to hire. While that approach may have worked in a time when job content and skills changed slowly, it also contributed to disparities of opportunity for populations who lacked access to college degrees and proved unwieldy in the face of accelerating change.

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The twin pressures of rapid technological change and the advent of automation have impacted the speed at which skill shifts occur, the way we acquire new and in-demand skills, and the way organizations find (or attempt to find) workers who possess the skills they need. While educational attainment is still a requirement for a significant number positions in many industries and companies, employers are increasingly focused on moving toward skills-based hiring as a way to meet organizational goals and foster a preferred work culture. Yet accomplishing a shift this significant is not as easy as flipping a switch, and employers, educational institutions, and workers are facing challenges navigating this new world of work.


For decades, AARP has explored the opinions and needs of employers with regard to job candidate and employee skills, credentials, and resources with a special emphasis on workers ages 50 and older. This current AARP survey provides further insight into the value and importance 650 U.S. employers across industries place on various hard and soft skills when considering the goals and success of their organization. This phone survey was fielded in September and October of 2021. 

For more information, please contact Jennifer Sauer at For media inquiries, please contact External Relations at