President Trump last week signed an Executive Order entitled “Modernizing and Reforming the Assessment and Hiring of Federal Job Candidates.” The Order is the product, and delivers on a promise, of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board President Trump established in July 2018 with another Executive Order, EO 13845.  

According to the 2018 Executive Order, 6.7 million U.S. jobs requiring skills were going unfilled. The Workforce Policy Advisory Board was charged with developing plans to help Americans gain the skills to fill them.  

Applying that commonsense approach to the federal workforce, the new EO begins by noting that the private sector has already moved toward “skills- and competency-based hiring” and away from “an overreliance on college degrees which excludes capable candidates.”

It directs federal agencies to revise job descriptions to focus on the skills required to perform the responsibilities of the position. Educational attainments may be required “only if the candidate’s education directly reflects the competencies necessary to satisfy that qualification and perform the duties of the position.”

Federal agencies are directed to have the revised position descriptions and job postings ready within 120 days of the EO, and to put them into effect within 180 days. If the deadlines are met, the revised job descriptions will be available by October 24 of this year, and implemented by December 23.  

People familiar with federal hiring appreciate what an enormous shift this will be in the government’s approach to job applicants, and what an enormous undertaking it will be to revise job descriptions to identify the skills that are actually needed to perform the responsibilities of each position. 

A fuller discussion of this Executive Order can be found here on National Review.