Degree requirements are on the way out for federal jobs

Degree requirements are on the way out for federal jobs

Friday saw the Office of Personnel Management release a new timeline that removed all degree eligibility requirements from numerous job listings at the federal level. This move is part of a new policy that seeks to transform the hiring process into an assessment-based system.

This transition will commence from August 7, with agencies coordinating with their counterparts at the OPM to establish revised hiring requirements.

The OPM will then publish a draft version of all proposed modifications to the General Schedule Qualifications Policy on August 21. The private and public sectors will be given 30 days to provide their feedback and reviews. The policy will be finalized and released by October 16, with the implementation deadline set for December 24.

With the administration favoring an innovative assessment-oriented hiring process in place of the current system that prioritizes degree qualifications, both current federal employees and applicants will be affected to a great extent. New applicants or those looking for a promotion in their current departments need not be restricted by degree requirements anymore, provided they possess the skills required for the position they’re applying for.

This shift means that the federal hiring process might become more intensive and stricter for certain positions that currently accept self-certification. Active assessments will now have to be integrated into the overall hiring process for many positions at the federal level.

Michael Rigas, acting OPM director, stated that most federal agencies currently use occupational questionnaires and federal resumes for screening applicants based on their qualifications. However, with the administration instituting a new hiring process, this means that a more comprehensive process needs to be established for ensuring that applicants possess the competencies required for the successful execution of their job responsibilities.

The director added that screening applicants to ensure they possessed minimum qualifications and assessing federal applicants to check their proficiency levels and competencies required completely different systems. It should be noted that federal agencies already do make use of validated assessment tools to examine individuals applying for competitive positions such as structured interviews, job knowledge exams, situational judgment exams, work samples, cognitive ability tests, etc.

But this new hiring process which was mandated by an executive order issued on June 26, won’t eliminate degree requirements entirely from all federal positions. Medical professionals, lawyers, and other roles that require a degree due to the specialized nature of these roles, will continue to have the same requirements as before. The new hiring process will only be applicable for general roles across different federal agencies.

These changes are expected to help agencies fill numerous vacant positions in different fields where the adoption of emerging technologies has become the need of the hour – something that many federal agencies have been struggling with for a while now. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the numerous inadequacies and shortcomings of federal agencies in embracing emerging technologies and their outdated approaches to different issues. It is imperative to bring fresh blood on board if the administration is to become more efficient and competent at handling crises that may pop up in the future.


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