HR

Degree requirements are on the way out for federal jobs

The Office of Personnel Management released its timeline Friday for removing degree requirements from the majority of federal job listings and moving to a more assessment-based hiring process.

The transition will begin with agencies identifying a point of contact by this Friday, Aug. 7, to coordinate with OPM on the new hiring requirements.

OPM then plans to release a draft version of it’s changes to the General Schedule Qualifications Policy Aug. 21, after which the public and private sectors will have a month to offer reviews and feedback. The final policy will be released Oct. 26, with a final implementation deadline of Dec. 24.

The change in focus from degree requirements to assessment-focused hiring will have impacts for both new job applicants and current feds, as those seeking a promotion or new position that is subject to public competition may not need the previously mandated degree if they can show they have the skills needed for the job.

The shift also means that the hiring process will get more intensive for some positions, as those that currently rely on a self-certification of required skills will now have to infuse active assessments in the hiring process.

“At present, most agencies use federal resumes and an occupational questionnaire to screen applicants for minimum qualifications. A ‘deeper dive’ needs to be taken in order to address the actual competencies needed to perform work successfully,” acting OPM Director Michael Rigas wrote in a Friday memo to heads of federal agencies.

“Screening an applicant for minimum qualifications is not the same as assessing applicants for the competencies and proficiency levels necessary to perform the job. Agencies are required to use validated (i.e., job-related) assessment tools when examining applicants for competitive service positions. Assessment tools include, but are not limited to, cognitive ability tests, work samples, situational judgment tests, job knowledge tests and structured interviews.”

The federal hiring changes, mandated by a June 26 executive order, will not remove degree requirements from all positions, as those that are mandated by law or absolutely necessary for the skills needed — such as lawyers and medical professionals — will remain in place.

The changes will be designed to most especially help with positions in the emerging technologies field, where some agencies have struggled to fill positions, according to the memo.

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