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Trump signs order updating federal hiring practices

On June 26, President Donald Trump signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to update their job qualification standards and candidate assessments.

Under the Executive Order on Modernizing and Reforming the Assessment and Hiring of Federal Job Candidates, federal agencies must update federal job qualification standards and candidate assessments with merit-based reforms that will broaden the civil service and build a more demand-driven labor force.

“Unnecessary degree requirements exclude otherwise qualified Americans from Federal employment, impose the expense of college on prospective workers, and disproportionately harm low-income Americans,” administration officials said in a statement.

The effort aims to bring federal hiring on par with that of private-sector firms, which use skills- and competency-based hiring. As a result of the order, “talented individuals with apprenticeships, technical training, and apt backgrounds will have greater opportunity to pursue careers in the Federal civil service,” the White House said.

“I'm taking a bold action to reform the federal workforce,” Trump said at the order’s signing. “Today I'll sign an executive order that directs the federal government to replace outdated -- and really outdated -- it's called ‘degree-based hiring’ -- with skill-based hiring. So we want it based on skill.”

According to the executive order, the Office of Personnel Management, working with the Office of Management and Budget director and agency heads, has 120 days to  review and revise job classification and qualification standards to ensure that agencies require a minimum educational standard for employment “only when a minimum educational qualification is legally required to perform the duties of the position in the State or locality where those duties are to be performed” and when “the candidate’s education directly reflects the competencies necessary to satisfy that qualification and perform the duties of the position.”

Additionally, job descriptions should be based on the specific skills and competencies required to perform those jobs, rather than focusing on a college degree.

To improve the use of assessments in hiring, OPM will work with agencies to ensure that their assessment of candidates “does not rely solely on educational attainment”  to determine if they have the ability to do the job. Further, agencies may not “rely solely on candidates’ self-evaluations of their stated abilities,” the order said.  “Applicants must clear other assessment hurdles in order to be certified for consideration.”

“The federal government will no longer be narrowly focused on where you went to school, but the skills and the talents that you bring to the job. We want that skill to be there,” Trump said at the order’s signing. “We want it based on merit.”

Reader comments

Thu, Jul 30, 2020

A college degree does not confer qualifications for a job, but it does establish a baseline level of competency. One must have a certain level of discipline to complete a four year degree, and more so for graduate level work. If you think the federal workforce is incompetent now, I can't wait to see the disaster it is about to become. If you want to be treated like a professional, have professional credentials. Nobody would see a doctor who was hired based on life's experience. This has disaster written all over it, and will allow cronies to appoint their unqualified friends into key government roles for the final nails in the coffin of any semblance of professionalism in the federal government.

Tue, Jul 28, 2020 Mary California

I have worked for the FS as a seasonal employrr in the wildlife department for 32 years, and when I applied for a GS-0486 Wildlife Biologist, they said I didn't qualify because I was missing a class or two, but they wouldn't tell me which one. I train most of the biologists that come into our department, but don't qualify as a Biologist? Hopefully this will help me.

Mon, Jul 13, 2020 ItsBeginning2020 Bend, Oregon

So thankful! I started seeing in Oregon jobs for Secretary where a degree was required? Anyone who has a problem with this is part of the problem! So many Veterans complain about the VA- why? Civilians with college degrees are running the place. Hmmmm THANK YOU President Trump for allowing those of us who have served and not just sat in a desk for 4 years- the opportunity to be hired! Not all of us want to use College benefits. It's not for everyone.

Sat, Jul 11, 2020

Ive been a federal (1987) worker for years at census. Hired as permanent With a (1). I was placed on intermittent status and was bullied and never brought back. It was cruel and wrong. Worked in 2010 census hiring received a great evaluation score in security as adjudicator. Blocked held out my job since 2014. They changed the division and boss not one person would tell me who the supervisor was or give me a number. Though I was verified. Afge I contacted the president rallied for him had a few calls and email. The communication stopped to bring me back to work people do what they want. It crushed my life through it all I reached out for help. HR did not respond. I did something good I was hired by Beverly Harley now deceased. A program started and was argued about over using employees over contractors. Census has left me out of work at I believe degrees coming to the Govt means nothing when u come it is me who does your Time and attendance, travel and make conferences happen but my job was taken from me I feel it was wrong. Left on leave that was not my choice that’s not how it works for people to hand pick friends and appoint and refer who they know. I was left holding intermittent papers and told they would call me and they were looking for work for me since 2014.

Tue, Jul 7, 2020

I was pulled out of college when I was 19 by a team of venture capitalists and helped build a host of companies. I've gone back to school multiple times for courses towards a degree, but it takes quite a while with kids to finish up a degree. Particularly when schools require re-taking a host of courses again in the transfer process. That said, I was quite successful when I was younger, once I started to stop building companies and being involved in startups, I hit quite a wall when shifting companies. All because I don't have a paper. So now I need to take art and history of rock and roll courses to be able to accept an offer from a federal subcontractor, where I'll be able to continue my work in AI and DataScience. Even with that skill-set and 20 years experience in the field - working with the federal government was pretty much never a real opportunity for me. Now it is. This president has opened doors and eyes.

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