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Trump signs Executive Order to overhaul federal hiring process

By Wayne D. Garris Jr., J.D.

The EO aims to open the federal workforce to the two-thirds of Americans who do not hold a college degree.

On June 26, the White House announced that President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday that changes the federal government’s hiring practices to “to replace one-size-fits-all, degree-based hiring, with skills-based hiring. “Under the EO, agencies will have to increase their use of skill assessments and interviews rather than educational achievements alone in evaluating candidates for federal positions. The EO won’t apply to all positions, such for medical or legal positions for which an advanced degree is required.

According to fact sheet put out by the White House, the Executive Order will require federal agencies to focus hiring on the skills job seekers possess, rather than focusing on whether they earned a college degree, and revise and update job qualification standards and candidate assessments.

Under the terms of the Executive Order:

I. An agency may prescribe a minimum educational requirement for employment in the Federal competitive service 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.
II. Unless an agency is determining a candidate’s satisfaction of a legally required minimum educational requirement, an agency may consider education in determining a candidate’s satisfaction of some other minimum qualification only if the candidate’s education directly reflects the competencies necessary to satisfy that qualification and perform the duties of the position.

The Administration believes that the EO will prevent the use of “unnecessary degree requirements” that exclude qualified applicants from federal employment and provide greater access to federal careers for individuals in apprenticeship and technical program. The order also borrows from “best practices already adopted by private sector leaders to promote equity and inclusion.”

“This will ensure that we’re able to hire based on talent and expand our universe to qualified candidates and ensure a more equitable hiring process,” said Ivanka Trump, co-chair of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, in a statement to reporters.

The largest employer in the United States, the federal government employs approximately 2 million people. The Administration hopes that the EO will provide greater federal employment opportunities for the two-thirds of Americans who do not have a college degree.