Apr 30, 2024 - Technology

Federal government ditched degree requirements in IT hiring

Illustration of keyboard letters spelling "Helped Wanted"

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The federal government is overhauling parts of its hiring process to remove educational and years-of-experience requirements for a subset of tech and cybersecurity roles, the White House announced Monday.

Why it matters: The U.S. government's arcane hiring practices have made it difficult for federal offices to compete with the fast-moving, higher-paying Silicon Valley job market.

Driving the news: National Cyber Director Harry Coker Jr. made the announcement Monday during an event hosted at the White House.

  • More than 30 companies and institutions across a dozen industries attended the roundtable event.

Zoom in: The Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) is working with the White House's Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to transition all jobs that fall under the IT management series to a skills-based hiring process.

  • The changes, which are set to take effect next summer, will affect nearly 100,000 current federal employees' posts.
  • The OPM will also apply these changes to requirements for government contractor positions.

What they're saying: "Thanks to a lot of work across federal agencies, we're leading by example, ensuring that more Americans will have access to cybersecurity jobs in the federal government whether they are an employee or a contractor," Coker said in a statement. "We need cybersecurity talent in every industry."

Between the lines: Many cybersecurity professionals end up learning the trade through online certifications or apprenticeships, but the federal government's hiring process has still prioritized college degrees.

  • Transitioning the federal government to a skills-based hiring system is part of the ONCD's cyber workforce strategy released last summer.

The big picture: The U.S. has enough workers to fill 82% of available cybersecurity jobs, according to CyberSeek.

  • Attempting to close this gap has prompted hiring managers to meet candidates where they are and try different strategies to recruit and retain a diverse talent pool.
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