New skills-first career development programs remove career barriers of four-year degrees and support economic equity through access to higher-earning jobs across the company.
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Delta is applying a “skills-first” talent mindset that focuses on capabilities, competencies, and relevant experiences through an Apprenticeship Program and Delta Analytics Academy. These skills-first career growth programs provide frontline employees the opportunity to transition into corporate career roles, including business support or management positions, while providing targeted development and mentors who help them grow and mature in their new roles. 

In 2021, 94% of Delta’s non-executive job openings that were filled externally did not require a college degree. This followed the airline’s work to remove unnecessary barriers, like four-year-degree requirements, to certain roles as part of the company’s commitment to become an anti-racist, anti-discrimination organization

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A Path to Equity: Focusing on Skills 

The exploration of non-traditional career paths marks another milestone in the company’s efforts to ensure leadership at all levels reflects Delta’s diverse workforce. 

“Delta’s frontline employees are our most diverse population. We know they bring invaluable skillsets and expertise,” said Ashley Black, Delta’s Director of Equity Strategies. “We also know that a variety of barriers to college degrees have for too long kept certain roles out of reach. We’re working to bridge the gap through new programs so that we don’t continue to miss out on this vital talent." 

The skills-based approach will accelerate career mobility and reduce barriers to entry into certain corporate career roles. Delta has set a long-term goal of filling 25% of its corporate and management openings with current talent that is in customer-facing roles. 

Skills-first development resources, including targeted, self-paced learning paths, are available through Delta’s learning portal, iGrow, and are supported through partnerships with organizations like OneTen, of which Delta is a founding member. 

Delta’s Apprenticeship Program 

Delta is piloting an internal apprenticeship program that centers on hiring, developing and promoting people with relevant skills and experience for open roles within the company. 

Under the program, apprentices work full time in an immersive “earn while you learn” experience, which concludes with a formal transition into a role on that team. 

Employees who enroll in the program can take an array of roles in departments including human resources, revenue management, information technology and finance/corporate audit. Training periods will last up to two years. 

The program offers an immersive experience that includes leadership coaching and mentoring as well as on-the-job learning and support. Hiring managers and leaders will also have access to a series of skills-based training and a leader toolkit for coaching and development. 

Delta’s Analytics Academy  

Delta is working to address the increasing demand for analytics in the operation and provide a diverse pipeline through the Delta Analytics Academy. Together with Georgia State University, Delta has developed a three-semester program for its inaugural class of Atlanta-based Delta employees to acquire the tools needed to enter the analytics field without traditional education or cost barriers.  

The academy will begin with a virtual learning environment that allows students to remain in their current positions at Delta. They will have access to analytics senior leaders and an analytics leader as their coach throughout the program. The program is designed for successful employees to move into an analytics position and once completed, students will be guaranteed an interview as Delta work towards its goal of filling 25 percent of positions with frontline talent. At the completion of the program, the graduates will receive a co-branded certificate from GSU and Delta, in addition to a guaranteed interview for a full-time role in analytics within the enterprise. The goal is to expand the offering beyond Atlanta to all U.S.-based employees. 

About Diversity, Equity and Inclusion  

At Delta, we are committed to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion as part of our work to connect and reflect the world. Delta drives meaningful impact by actively seeking diversity, boldly pursuing equity and consciously promoting inclusion while holding ourselves accountable to these goals. 

In 2020, Delta made a commitment to become an anti-discrimination, anti-racist organization. The company periodically updates progress toward its multi-layered goals through racial equity progress reports. Additionally, Delta has placed a focus on closing diversity gaps within its workforce: setting goals for the diversity of our frontline to be proportionally reflected in their leaders. 

Delta's senior cross-divisional Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council, made up of nearly 30 executive leaders, ensures these goals are embedded throughout the organization by evaluating corporate and divisional metrics, programs and proposals.  Ten Business Resource Groups with over 24,000 actively engaged employees to ensure that diverse perspectives are brought to the table, serving as strategists and thought leaders on business issues. 

As a "Best Workplace for Diversity," Delta has been recognized as a "Best Workplace for Women" by Great Place to Work and Fortune for three years in a row, "Top-Rated Workplaces for Veterans" by Indeed, and "Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion," receiving a top score of 100 percent on the 2018 Disability Equality Index (DEI). 

Learn more at or by finding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on the News Hub. 

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With commitments laid out in the August 2020 memo from Delta Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian to advance racial justice and diversity within our business, Delta will continue sharing updates and progress on our goal to become an equitable, anti-racist organization.
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