State Skills-Based Hiring in the Public Sector - NGA

Last Updated: 03/03/2024

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In January 2024, The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) launched, Skills-Based Hiring In The Public Sector, an initiative supported by a grant from Walmart. The new initiative includes 21 states and one territory.

Key activities include convening a state community of practice in April 2024 in Washington D.C., to engage 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. Participants will participate in peer-to-peer learning and collaboration, attend interactive breakout sessions on crucial topics, and share successes and challenges from their states while networking with peers and experts from across the country. Throughout 2024 and early 2025, the state community of practice will identify and share 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. At completion of this work, participants will accelerate or begin implementation of skills-based hiring initiatives at the state level.

The NGA Center is partnering with national non-profit social enterprise Opportunity@Work 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 is providing content for Community of Practice workshops, informing the agenda for the Skills in the State national meeting, and engaging in action planning to support States in addressing their core implementation priorities.

NGA’s technical experts and partners are also developing a framework focused on hiring based on skills that align with state goals and existing policies, and exploring how HR departments and software systems can align to facilitate hiring based on verified knowledge and skills. Expert data partners are examining the landscape of skill-based hiring in the public sector, to address how degree requirements have changed since some states removed the requirement and explore how states have been able to hire workers without degrees. The project team will be developing recommendations on metrics for success that can be implemented to measure progress.


The initial deadline for states to submit interest forms to participate was January 19, 2024. Additional states may be added after that date on a case-by-case basis.

The interest form required each state to identify up to five individuals to serve on the proposed state team. They must include a representative from the Governor’s office (or designee), a state workforce/education system leader, and a state hiring/personnel management lead.

On the interest application form, states must describe current or pending policy initiatives related to skills-based hiring in their state; and describe any challenges they are facing in this policy area in their state.


The initiative builds on work that Governors in more than a dozen states have taken over the past year and a half to remove barriers to employment in the public sector (e.g., state government jobs) by removing bachelor’s degree requirements deemed to be unnecessary for some specific jobs. The public sector represents the largest employment sector in many of these states.

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.

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