Executive Order 278, Recognizing the Value of Experience in State Government Hiring, directs the NC Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) to create processes to identify job classifications that do not require academic degrees and train agency human resources (HR) personnel on how to properly screen applications to broaden access to career opportunities in state government. This will help agencies address ongoing challenges in recruiting and retaining the skilled workforce essential to ensuring North Carolinians have safe, effective and efficient government programs and services. It will also help agencies continue active recruitment of qualified candidates who can apply directly related knowledge and skills from prior jobs and experiences to positions across state government.
In collaboration with state agencies, OSHR will lead a comprehensive review of all job classifications to ensure that the education and experience requirements are appropriate for the position – and to make changes where possible to give weight to experience, when a degree is not required.
Effective June 1, 2023, all job postings by Cabinet agencies will include the following statement: “Some state job postings say you can qualify by an ‘equivalent combination of education and experience.’ If that language appears below, then you may qualify through EITHER years of education OR years of directly related experience, OR a combination of both. See the Education and Experience Equivalency Guide for details.
Non-Cabinet agencies are strongly encouraged to adopt the statement on their job postings but are not required to do so.
Classifications that require valid certification or licensure as a condition of employment will still include these requirements. However, the Order encourages licensing boards and commissions to review requirements and eliminate any unnecessary degree preferences that create barriers to employment.
Executive Order 278 specifically seeks to eliminate unnecessary management preferences for degrees, expanding career opportunities for diverse individuals with the skills and competencies to work successfully in state government. Non-Cabinet agencies are strongly encouraged to eliminate unnecessary management preferences for degrees as well.
Yes. An agency employee who thought that advancement was out of reach due to the lack of an academic degree may now be eligible for higher-level classifications if they possess the job-specific combination of skills and experience.
When fully qualified candidates are not available from the pool of applicants, agencies are encouraged to consider the use of trainee progression pathways and apprenticeships. These structured programs provide the employee the training and support necessary to gain the required skills and experience over a specific timeframe, with compensation gradually increasing as milestones are met. Employees in these programs will be considered probationary for the duration of their program and may be subject to dismissal if specified expectations are not met. Expanded authority for trainee progressions was approved in December 2022 by the State Human Resources Commission; this authority became effective February 15, 2023.
OSHR will develop and provide training to agency HR professionals on using consistent processes to assess directly related experience to determine whether an applicant meets minimum qualifications. Additional training modules, developed with the support of Cabinet agencies, will include support for hiring justice-involved individuals, individuals with disabilities, veterans and their families, and other priority populations.
The Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) will be working in stages to implement Executive Order 278 over the next few weeks and months. In the first steps, over March and April 2023, OSHR will work with agencies to make policy changes consistent with the Executive Order, and OSHR will establish a process to discourage hiring managers from adding unnecessary degree preferences to Cabinet agencies' job postings.
Throughout 2023, OSHR and state agencies will work together to evaluate the minimum education and experience requirements in all state job classifications. Currently, approximately 75% of state job classifications either allow experience to be substituted for education or do not require a higher education degree. A progress report will be issued by or on October 1, 2023.
Most of the remaining 25% positions require special licenses or certifications from state licensing boards and commissions. In some cases, these certifications or licenses include academic requirements. Licensing boards and commissions are encouraged to review these requirements by September 1, 2023.”
Non-Cabinet agencies that opt to participate in Executive Order 278 should notify the State Human Resources Director of their decision and include standard terminology in all job postings to make the flexibility clear to potential candidates.