Skills-First Success Stories How Black Talent Are Thriving With OneTen

Moving from entry-level jobs to family-sustaining careers, a new report released by OneTen details the distinctive journeys three individuals have pursued which demonstrates how Black talent can accelerate career changes, access pathways for advancement, and secure better benefits.

OneTen places Black talent without four-year degrees on a pathway to career success and upward mobility, and these real-life stories demonstrate how a skills-first approach by companies can tangibly unlock opportunities for these individuals.

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OneTen, a coalition of leading executives and companies committed to hiring, promoting, and advancing one million Black individuals without four-year degrees into family-sustaining careers, aims to close the racial wealth gap in the United States.

“From Generational Barriers to Generational Wealth: Inside the Black Talent Skills-First Journey” shows exactly how skills-based hiring can work to the benefit of companies and Black talent. The report features the true stories of three Black individuals who have transformed their careers through OneTen’s skills-based hiring model, a proven concept that America’s leading companies are beginning to fully embrace, including Delta Airlines and Cisco, which are both mentioned in the report.

Many workers fear an increased risk of career disruption due to the rise of automation in frontline work, including Cedric Green, who was a truck driver before he applied for a nanodegree scholarship on a whim and received training that allowed him to realize his childhood dream: working in technology.

“When I got the scholarship email, I almost jumped out of my seat,” said Green, now a Full-Stack Software Developer trained through OneTen talent developer Udacity. “I’ve been given nothing, so to have somebody else who believes in you, that doesn’t even know you, is nothing short of incredible. I used that energy to power through the program, and it has since given me a foothold to actually secure employment.”

Another example is Sierra Stanton, who didn’t have the resources she needed to pursue a degree at a traditional, four-year college after graduation. While completing a data science bootcamp to expand her skillset, Stanton discovered OneTen, which helped match her with a role on Cisco’s Global Market Development team. Excited by the opportunity to incorporate her long-standing passion for social justice into her everyday work, Stanton later transitioned to the company’s DE&I team full-time.

“This new kind of world has opened up to me,” said Stanton, now a DE&I project manager at Cisco. “I’ve been able to learn and grow in ways that I didn’t realize were possible before. I get the chance to take advantage of an incredible amount of resources, skills training, and support.”

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Melvina Jones experienced how difficult it can be to move out of entry-level support roles. For 12 years, Jones worked in various support roles at Delta, including as a gate agent. She was told that without a degree, her options for advancement were limited. Together with OneTen, Delta worked to remove four-year degree requirements and re-credential its non-executive job openings. By 2021, more than 90% of these openings no longer required a college degree. The company also created an apprenticeship program to staff 25% of its corporate and management positions with frontline employees. Through this program, Jones is now working as an equity strategies coordinator for Delta’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team.

Jones has room to grow at Delta, the flexibility to earn more, and the ability to invest in her future. “My story is not an uncommon one,” Jones said. “I’m just the story that’s being told now.”

These are just three of the thousands of stories of Black talent who have been able to move into family-sustaining careers because of OneTen’s skills-first approach focusing on competencies.

“It has been awe-inspiring to see our partner employers and talent providers fully embrace the shift to skills-first hiring,” said Debbie Dyson, CEO, OneTen. “This is not only good for business, but it is life-changing. Together, we are empowering diverse talent to fully participate in the economy and invest in their dreams.”

Since inception, more than 87,000 qualifying individuals have been hired and/or promoted through the work of the OneTen coalition, increasing access to economic opportunity and mobility.

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