Jan 25, 2024

Governor Healey Institutes Skills Based Hiring

NEWTON — In her address to the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) today, Governor Healey announced that she signed an executive order instituting skills-based hiring practices for the state’s workforce. Through this Executive Order, for the vast majority of job postings, the administration will focus primarily on applicants’ skills, knowledge, and abilities rather than educational credentials. Job postings will only be allowed to include degree conditions when absolutely necessary to the performance of the job. Additionally, for the first time, hiring managers will receive training and tools to implement this new hiring strategy effectively.   

“As the state’s largest employer, we rely on a strong, diverse workforce to deliver crucial services and programs for Massachusetts residents, businesses and communities every day. But too many job applicants are being held back by unnecessary degree requirements,” said Governor Healey. “This Executive Order directs our administration to focus on applicants’ skills and experiences, rather than college credentials. It will expand our applicant pool and help us build a more inclusive and skilled workforce than ever before. Our administration is leading by example, and we encourage the business community to join us by adopting similar skills-based hiring practices.” 

“Our administration recognizes that job applicants have a wide range of skills and that nobody can be reduced to a line on a resume,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “We have so many jobs across the state that need to be filled and we have qualified, talented workers who want them. We just need to lower the barriers to entry, which is exactly what this Executive Order aims to do. We look forward to continuing to share our lessons learned and best practices with the business community as we all work toward these common goals.”  

The Executive Order directs all executive departments and agencies to utilize skills-based employment practices to attract, recruit, hire, retain, and develop workers. The Executive Order also requires the completion of a skills-based hiring training course for all agency managers and support teams and ensure job postings and interview questions promote a candidate’s set of skills, knowledge, and abilities. Additionally, as part of the Administration’s “Lead by Example” Employer Talent Initiative, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development will collaborate with private, non-profit, and government employers to develop and publish best practices resources for the broader business community to also adopt skills-based hiring strategies. 

“Massachusetts has an incredible opportunity to leverage its platform as a major employer, lead by example, and encourage more employers to do the same,” said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Lauren Jones. “As employers, including the Commonwealth, embrace a skills-based hiring practice, we will collectively open more opportunities to hire, retain, and develop the diverse, skilled talent employers need to grow and thrive in regions across the state.” 

The Executive Order also calls for new job postings not to specify a minimum level of education as an entrance requirement unless it is determined that a particular level of education is necessary to perform the job. While only 7 percent of current positions require an education requirement, the state’s Human Resources Division (HRD) will routinely review positions to determine if education requirements are necessary to perform the job.  

As part of its guidance to departments and agencies, HRD will develop tools for skills-based recruiting such as identifying and reducing bias, writing a job description, and creating a recruitment plan. HRD will also provide best practices when screening and interviewing candidates. As part of a skills-based hiring strategy, the Healey-Driscoll Administration aims to reduce unconscious bias in the workplace by focusing on eliminating biases during the hiring process. 

Residents interested in a career in state government, including roles in health, human services, transportation, IT, finance, housing, economic and workforce development, veterans’ services, energy, climate, environmental affairs, public safety, and education, can visit the MassCareers website for job opportunities. 

Statements of Support  

Brooke M. Thomson, President and CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts: 

“At AIM, we’re proud that many of our 3,400 member companies are already implementing skills-based hiring as a means to break the ‘paper ceiling’ and attract new, talented individuals into the work force and to positions they might not have otherwise given a second thought. We commend the Healey-Driscoll Administration for leading by example on this issue and our association stands ready to accept the challenge to make skills-based hiring and retention common practice throughout Massachusetts.” 

David J. Holway, President of National Association of Government Employees (NAGE): 

“This executive order is long overdue, and I am pleased that Governor Healey has moved state hiring into current day realities. Hopefully, this action will increase the talent pool for state positions.” 

Lane Glenn, President of Northern Essex Community College: 

“There are many ways to demonstrate knowledge and skills beyond college degrees, including prior learning assessment, microcredentials, apprenticeships, internships, and on-the-job experience.  The state’s community colleges are ready to help workers and employers alike through the Healey administration’s bold new ‘Lead by Example’ talent initiative.”  

Gerald Chertavian, Founder of Year Up and Partner at Grads of Life: 

“Skills-based hiring is the future of work. Congratulations to Governor Healey for steering this pivotal change, unlocking doors for qualified and motivated talent and enriching talent pools for employers. This strategic move is not only advantageous for business but also promises broader opportunities for all of our residents.” 

Chrissy Lynch, President and CEO of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO: 

“We have seen first-hand the benefits of skills-based hiring thanks to the proven model of registered apprenticeship. The AFL-CIO applauds Governor Healey for this inclusive workforce strategy and look forward to partnering as we continue to lift up opportunities for more Massachusetts workers.”  

Dr. Robert Johnson, President of Western New England University: 

“At Western New England University, we understand the transformative power of skills and the importance of recognizing diverse talents. This Executive Order is a significant step towards breaking down unnecessary barriers and creating equal opportunities for all in today’s dynamic job market. I am proud to support Governor Healey’s initiative because it paves the way for a more inclusive workforce, where individuals are recognized and valued for their unique contributions.” 

Published on mass.gov

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