On June 26, 2020, President Trump signed an Executive Order requiring all “Federal agencies to focus hiring on the skills job seekers possess, rather than focusing on whether the person has earned a college degree.”
As the nation’s largest employer, the new Executive Order seeks to transform the Federal Government by revising and updating outdated Federal job qualifications standards and candidate assessments. In particular, the order eliminates the need to have a degree to apply for specific jobs, a requirement that has often excluded otherwise qualified applicants from Federal employment.
“My Administration is committed to modernizing and reforming civil service hiring through improved identification of skills requirements and effective assessments of the skills job seekers possess. We encourage these same practices in the private sector. Modernizing our country’s processes for identifying and hiring talent will provide America a more inclusive and demand-driven labor force.”
In a separate document outlining the main points of the Executive Order, the White House directs:
- Federal agencies to focus on hiring on the skills job seekers possess, rather than focusing on whether they earned a college degree.
- To require federal agencies to revise and update outdated Federal job qualification standards and candidate assessments, improving the quality and competency of the civil service.
- The elimination of unnecessary degree requirements which exclude otherwise qualified Americans from Federal employment, impose the expense of college on prospective workers and disproportionately harm low-income Americans.
- The implementation of the best practices to promote equity and inclusion that private sector leaders have already adopted..
- As a result of this reform, talented individuals with apprenticeships, technical training, and apt backgrounds will have greater opportunities to pursue careers in the Federal civil service.
While this is a bold initiative to return the Federal Government back to a skills-based hiring approach, it is not exactly new. For example, it was only in the 1960s that it became mandatory in Massachusetts that lawyers have the equivalent of a four-year degree and attend a law school. Before that time, an individual had the option to either attend law school or to apprentice in a law firm for several years and then take the bar.
As many readers will likely agree, many trade and technology careers really do not require a four-year degree. One only has to look at the growth of the twelve to sixteen-week coding boot camps that allow anyone with computer aptitude to become highly employable in that short time with no degree required. Couple that with growing education costs, and it simply does not make a lot of financial sense for many young people to incur the amount of debt they would need to obtain a four-year degree.
What does this have to do with insurance?
It is probably not necessary to repeat the obvious. The insurance industry is experiencing a talent replacement crisis. As the present employees of the industry are retiring, their replacement pool is simply not there. Collectively, the industry has yet to find a consistent and effective way to recruit younger people into a rapidly greying industry.
While insurance companies may recruit from universities and help create degrees or programs focusing on insurance, this is only a start. To really transform the industry, however, it might be worthwhile to companies and agencies looking to recruit to take a “skills-based approach” which includes on-the-job training, retraining opportunities for mid-career employees from other industries, and even apprenticeships.
Embracing a “skills-based hiring’ approach to recruiting in the insurance industry, similar to what is occurring in other industries such as in technology, could help transform the industry in a number of ways. For example, by:
- Attracting young people who may have discounted the insurance industry because they lack a four-year degree.
- Emphasizing the many opportunities that await those who may only have a two-year community college degree.
- Highlighting the ability to retrain for an insurance career for those workers who may have been laid-off and might be interested in retraining in the insurance industry.
An important result of such an effort would be to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce by reaching out to those individuals who might not have otherwise considered working in the insurance industry either based upon the skills they currently have or the gaps in their resume.
Our experience in helping to bring a “skills-based hiring” approach to the insurance industry
In 2014, Agency Checklists and the Insurance Library of Boston put together a pilot training program funded by the Arbella Insurance Foundation. The program featured eight women who graduated from a Property and Liability Insurance Course given at Roxbury’s Project Hope. While the program did not continue past the pilot program, it was a great opportunity to see how bringing a “skills-based approach” could open up new opportunities for both the insurance industry and those who signed up for the course. This new Executive Order reminded us of the program and how this approach could be a real game-changer in attracting new talent to the insurance industry.
For those interested in revisiting our 2014 article, it can be accessed by clicking the photo below:
What is the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board?
The new Executive Order adopts many of the findings of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. Established by Executive Order 13845, the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board provides advice and recommendations to the interagency National Council for the American Worker on various ways to engage both the private sector and educational institutions on ways to combat the current “skills crisis” in the country.
The Board’s main objective is envisioning how to help the American worker by “investing and increasing demand-driven education, training, and retraining, including through apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities.”
The following is a list of all the current members of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board:
Ivanka Trump: Advisor to the President, White House (co-chair)
Wilbur Ross: Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce (co-chair)
Jay Box: President, Kentucky Community and Technical College System
Walter Bumphus: President & CEO, American Association of Community Colleges
Jim Clark: CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Tim Cook: CEO, Apple
Tom Donohue: CEO, US Chamber of Commerce
Marillyn Hewson: Former CEO, Lockheed Martin
Eric Holcomb: Governor, Indiana
Barbara Humpton: CEO, Siemens USA
Al Kelly: Chairman and CEO, Visa
Vi Lyles: Mayor, Charlotte North Carolina
Sean McGarvey: President, North America’s Building and Trades Unions
Doug McMillon: President and CEO, Walmart
Craig Menear: Chairman & CEO, Home Depot
Michael Piwowar: Executive Director, Milken Institute
Scott Pulsipher: President, Western Governors University
Kim Reynolds: Governor, Iowa
Ginni Rometty: Executive Chairman, IBM
Scott Sanders: Executive Director, National Association of State Workforce Agencies
Julie Sweet: CEO, Accenture
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: President & CEO, SHRM – Society for Human Resource Management
Sebastian Thrun: Founder, President, and Executive Chairman, Udacity
Jay Timmons: CEO, National Association of Manufacturers
Sheree Utash: President, WSU Tech
Marianne Wanamaker: Professor, University of Tennessee