Gov. Polis Takes Innovative Action to Attract New & Skilled Talent to State Workforce

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Gov. Polis signs executive order to bolster state’s ability to attract an innovative, talented, diverse workforce

BOULDER - Today, Governor Polis took innovative action to attract new and skilled talent to Colorado’s thriving economy and continue to make the state an employer of choice. The Governor signed an Executive Order directing state agencies to consider job applicants’ skills and experiences as substitutions for educational degrees and certifications when making hiring decisions, a practice known as skills-based hiring. The Department of Personnel & Administration (DPA) is responsible for developing guidance and strategies to assist state agencies to implement skills-based hiring practices, and working with agencies to update job postings to reflect the skills-based approach.

“Coloradans have the skills, experiences, and backgrounds they need to succeed and I am proud that the state’s hiring practices will reflect our commitment to finding the best talent for each role and include best practices from the private sector,” said Gov. Polis. 

To implement skills-based hiring practices, the Executive Order directs the DPA to train hiring managers and human resource teams on skills-based practices, create a selection template that outlines equivalent and interchangeable skills for degrees in relevant roles, establish a data-driven, evidence-based approach to measure and evaluate program efficiency, and actively monitor job postings to ensure compliance. 

The Governor’s innovative action is the latest in a series of steps the Polis Administration has taken to provide effective, efficient, high-quality government services that Coloradans deserve. The event took place at Google Boulder, an early-adopter of skills-based hiring practices in Colorado. 

“Skills-based hiring opens the door for so many qualified candidates who may not have had the opportunity before,” said Statewide Chief Human Resources Officer Lynne Steketee. “This is wonderful news for job seekers, the state as an employer, and for the Coloradans we serve. Barriers are taken away by focusing on a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. We’re excited to partner with the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment to integrate work-based learning into our workforce, benefiting both new and current employees.” 

In November, 2021 Governor Jared Polis, Colorado WINS, members of the legislature and members of SEIU celebrated the signing of the first-ever partnership agreement between Colorado WINS and the state, as well as a recently-approved plan to raise the minimum wage for Colorado’s direct care workers to $15 an hour.

“Colorado’s transition to skills-based hiring practices will help build a robust and diverse workforce of state employees that are well-equipped to serve our state,” said Hilary Glasgow, Executive Director of Colorado WINS. “Nearly 1 in 5 state positions are vacant, resulting in unsustainable workloads for too many state employees. This new policy is an important step toward ensuring our state is well staffed and able to provide critical public services and resources to families in every corner of Colorado.”

The Executive Order directs the DPA to develop guidance and strategies to assist state agencies in skills-based hiring, in alignment with statute, state personnel rules, the partnership agreement with Colorado WINS, and federal law, and directs all state agencies to ensure skills-based and experience options are interchangeable with degree requirements for the majority of the workforce by FY 2023-24. 

“For Colorado to become an employer of choice, we must value the diversity of skills-based learning experiences and be inclusive of these in hiring practices across the board. This Executive Order is a step in the right direction for our state employees who are providing essential public services,” said Jessica Mathis, a state employee in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and Secretary of Colorado WINS.

To help implement the Executive Order, DPA will develop strategies to actively monitor job postings for compliance with existing requirements for educational equivalency; develop a process for positive outreach and intervention; begin skills-based hiring awareness discussions with senior leadership; and initiate training for hiring managers.

The full text of the executive order is available here.