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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 “Today I'll sign an executive order that directs the federal government to replace outdated -- and really outdated -- it's called ‘degree-based hiring’ -- with skill-based hiring.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

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.

Tue, Jun 30, 2020

Last gasp to dumb down the federal workforce.

Tue, Jun 30, 2020

Hiring has been merit based for sometime now. Maybe this could be improved. Eliminating education requirements sounds like dumbing-down the Federal workforce. This is a terribly wrong approach.

Tue, Jun 30, 2020

I'm glad I'll be retiring soon. I've seen where technicians try to do engineering tasks without the proper background. It isn't pretty.

Tue, Jun 30, 2020 Bill Hall

I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor State of Florida. However, I have to work at a lower level in the VA because when I graduated my college was CACREP accredited yet. I was selected as the best candidate applied for a position as a Licensed Professional Counselor but the VA and Board would not allow or grandfather because of the VA standard years ago adopted. In other words if a person is older their college institution was not accredited by this one accreditation body. The DOD changed this and allowed for grandfathering in as others have. Not so with the VA. Please pass this along. Many most qualified candidates have been hurt by this. thank you. bill

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