WH aims to transition nearly 100K federal IT jobs to skills-based hiring

The Biden administration sees skills-based hiring, as opposed to relying on college degrees, as the key to making up the cyber talent deficit.

The Biden administration is planning to shift the federal government’s primary IT job series away from relying on college degree requirements to “skills-based hiring” over the next year.

White House officials announced plans to move the GS-2210 “Information Technology Management Series” to skills-based hiring during an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington today.

“This is a major milestone in our national effort to move to skills-based hiring,” National Cyber Director Harry Coker said. He noted “this process will take time,” but said officials would “get it done” by the summer of 2025.

Rob Shriver, the deputy director at the Office of Personnel Management, said the 2210 series consists of nearly 100,000 jobs, representing most technical hires across the federal government.

“We have to go through the qualifications, the classification, the assessment process,” Shriver said. “Once we do that for the 2210s, we’re going to prioritize what comes next and keep working on it until we transform the entire process.”

The IT Management series has been a focal point for cyber, artificial intelligence and technology-related hiring across the federal government. Many jobs in the series, including entry-level positions, require at least an undergraduate degree in a technical field such as computer science, mathematics, statistics, or engineering.

OPM plans to issue new guidance on transitioning the 2210 job series to skills-based hiring in fiscal 2025, an OPM spokesman told Federal News Network.

“Agencies will need to decide how best to support this new direction — whether to adopt and upgrade existing applicant assessments, or whether to create new skills base assessments that align to the new classification and qualification standards,” the spokesman said.

Across many federal job series, the Biden administration has pushed agencies to focus more on evaluating candidates’ skills, as opposed to relying purely on educational degrees and self-assessments.

“We need to do the work to make sure that the process is set up so that we are evaluating those skills, rather than using shortcuts or proxies for skills, things like college degrees, for jobs that don’t require them,” Shriver said.

And the White House Office of the National Cyber Director has staked out cybersecurity as a key field where the federal government should be a leader in adopting skills-based hiring. Officials say transitioning to skills evaluations and on-the-job training is critical for filling cybersecurity vacancies across government and industry.

“We know that getting the best talent requires workers to be hired based on the skills they possess and their ability to learn, not just the degrees they hold,” Coker said.

Energy reviewing contractor positions

The Energy Department, meanwhile, is working on removing degree requirements for IT contractor positions. Energy relies on a network of contractors to run many of its facilities and labs.

“Contractors are a key part of our workforce. And as we move towards that skill-based hiring, we need to ensure that the same standards that are applied to federal are also applied to contracts,” Shila Cooch, the chief information officer at Energy’s Office of Science, said during the White House event.

Skills-based hiring has also featured heavily in the Biden administration’s work on artificial intelligence. In addition to the 2210 job series review, OPM today also issued new skills-based hiring guidance to help agencies fill in-demand AI-related roles.

The new guidance includes a “competency model” that lays out 43 general competencies and 14 technical competencies “found to be most important in performing AI work.” The model lays out how agencies should apply the different AI competencies to different job grades, as well as a ranking of the most important competencies.

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