The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued guidance implementing a Trump-era executive order (EO) that instructs agencies to expand skill-based hiring and decrease reliance on educational accomplishments and self-assessments to evaluate prospective employees.

According to the new guidance released May 19, the administration fully supports “expanding skills-based hiring for Federal jobs” because it ensures that hiring managers focus on what skills candidates have, and not where they acquired those skills.

“These reforms will expand the use of competency-based hiring across the Federal Government with the increased use of valid assessments that carefully measure candidates’ ability to perform the job,” the guidance says.

OPM added that considering the booming labor market, “the Federal government must position itself to compete with other sectors for top talent” and a skills-based approach to hiring advances this objective.

The President’s Management Agenda also emphasizes that “Federal agencies must attract, hire, develop, and empower talented individuals who are well suited and well prepared to face the challenges the Government faces, both in the near and long term.”

OPM previously extended the deadline for agencies to adopt skills-based hiring assessments, laid out in EO 13932, originally issued In June 2020 by former President Trump. The order originally gave OPM 120 days to change job classifications and qualifications.

The move towards a skills-based hiring approach is supported by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Earlier this year the House Oversight and Reform Committee approved a bill – introduced by Reps. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Jody Hice, R-Ga. – that aims to put in place a Federal workforce hiring policy that places greater emphasis on prospective employees’ work experience, rather than their educational credentials.

The House bill also has a Senate companion bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Bill Haggerty, R-Tenn.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.