Skills-Based Hiring in the Public Sector

Over the past year and a half, Governors in more than a dozen states have taken intentional steps to remove barriers to employment in the public sector by removing unnecessary bachelor’s degree requirements. This momentum for innovation in response to a tight labor market and a vision for economic opportunity has been accelerating the national policy conversation around skills-based hiring. These moves by Governors across the political spectrum have also highlighted the fact that, in most cases, the public sector represents the largest employment sector in the states.

In response to this Gubernatorial leadership, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center), with generous support and partnership from Walmart.org, launched Skills in the States as a community of practice focused on skills-based hiring in the public sector.

This effort, that builds upon the prior Walmart-supported work of NGA’s Skills-Driven States initiative, brings states to the table as employers and provides the opportunity for public sector hiring practices to be a national blueprint for inclusion and innovation in response to workforce shortages. The Skills in the States Community of Practice includes 21 states and one territory and will convene throughout 2024 and early 2025 to identify and share emerging best practices, challenges, successes and lessons learned. These conversations will lead to the development of customized and tailored action plans that align with state goals. Upon completion, participants will accelerate or begin implementation of skills-based hiring initiatives at the state level.

In April 2024, the NGA Center will bring together this cohort of future-focused state teams for a national convening in Washington D.C., engaging federal agency leads, private sector industry partners and experts in the field of skills-based hiring to outline the vision, best practices and strategic implementation strategies for state agencies to execute skills-based hiring initiatives. Attendees will have an opportunity to engage in peer-to-peer learning and collaboration, attend interactive breakout sessions focused on crucial topics, and share key successes and challenges from their states while networking with peers and experts from across the country.

Skills In The States Community Of Practice

To curate state leaders’ experiences in the Community of Practice with expertise in skills-based practices in the public sector, the NGA Center is partnering with national non-profit social enterprise Opportunity@Work. Opportunity@Work equips public and private sector employers with the data and implementation practices needed to tap into the 70+ million workers who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs),rather than from a bachelor’s degree, to build a diverse and dynamic workforce ready for the future. Opportunity@Work will support the delivery of dynamic content for Community of Practice workshops, inform the agenda for the Skills in the State national meeting and engage in action planning to support States in addressing their core implementation priorities.

Finally, NGA’s technical experts and partners will work with the Community of Practice to develop a framework focused on hiring based on skills that align with state goals and existing policies, as well as exploring how HR departments and software systems can align to facilitate hiring based on verified knowledge and skills. Additionally, expert data partners will examine the current landscape of skill-based hiring in the public sector, address how degree requirements have changed since some states removed the requirement and explore how  states have been able to hire workers without degrees. In addition to the analysis of current efforts, the project team will develop recommendations on the metrics for success that can be implemented to measure progress. This will culminate in a landscape study of state skills-focused efforts that will provide a platform for data collection and analysis as this work continues.  


For questions, or to learn more about this work, contact Program Director Amanda Winters (awinters@nga.org) or Project Manager Sytease Geib (sgeib@nga.org).