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New Initiative Will Increase Job Access for Northern Essex Students

Submitted by on January 25, 2024 – 5:10 pm

Governor Healey Signs Executive Order Directing State Agencies to Institute Skills-Based Hiring 

Newton, MA (January 25, 2024) – Governor Maura Healey unveiled a new initiative today that will dramatically increase access to state jobs. The Governor signed an Executive Order creating the “Lead by Example” Employer Talent Initiative, instituting skills-based hiring practices for the state’s workforce. Through this Executive Order, for the vast majority of state job postings, the administration will focus primarily on applicants’ skills, knowledge, and abilities. Job postings will only be allowed to include degree conditions when absolutely necessary. Further, the administration will work with the Commonwealth’s business community to encourage the evaluation and elimination of unnecessary education requirements for open positions.

The initiative will remove education requirements from most state jobs, increasing access for NECC students earning certificates and associate degrees.

“As the state’s largest employer, we rely on a strong, diverse workforce to deliver crucial services and programs for Massachusetts residents, businesses and communities every day. But too many job applicants are being held back by unnecessary degree requirements,” said Governor Healey. “We are leading by example here in the Healey-Driscoll Administration, and we encourage the business community to join us by adopting similar skills-based hiring practices.”

Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn has been advocating for an initiative like this for more than a decade. Northern Essex has been at the forefront of addressing a skilled workforce shortage through programs and partnerships, and this new initiative presents opportunities for state and employer partners to invest more time, money, and expertise in right-sizing and re-aligning the credentials needed for today’s workforce.

“There are many ways to demonstrate knowledge and skills beyond college degrees, including prior learning assessment, microcredentials, apprenticeships, internships, and on-the-job experience.  The state’s community colleges are ready to help workers and employers alike through the Healey administration’s bold new “Lead by Example” talent initiative,” said Glenn.

Northern Essex continues to add more courses and programs to address the workforce needs of the local business community. Recently, a new certificate program in Lab Science was launched, and three more certificate programs are expected to receive approval in the coming months. Certificate programs allow students to earn valuable job skills in a matter of weeks or months.

Supervisory skills training at NECC

Northern Essex also offers more tailored programs to local employers who seek to train or upskill current workers through the Center for Corporate and Community Education (CCCE). Additionally, the CCCE can help secure workforce training grants that often cover the entire cost for employers.

The Executive Order for the “Lead by Example” Initiative directs all executive departments and agencies to utilize skills-based employment practices to attract, recruit, hire, retain, and develop workers. The Executive Order also requires the completion of a skills-based hiring training course for all agency managers and support teams and ensure job postings and interview questions promote a candidate’s set of skills, knowledge, and abilities.

Additionally, as part of the Administration’s “Lead by Example” Employer Talent Initiative, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development will collaborate with private, non-profit, and government employers to develop and publish best practices resources for the broader business community to also adopt skills-based hiring strategies.

The Executive Order also calls for new job postings not to specify a minimum level of education as an entrance requirement unless it is determined that a particular level of education is necessary to perform the job. While only seven percent of current positions require an education requirement, the state’s Human Resources Division (HRD) will routinely review positions to determine if education requirements are necessary to perform the job.

As part of its guidance to departments and agencies, HRD will develop tools for skills-based recruiting such as identifying and reducing bias, writing a job description, and creating a recruitment plan. HRD will also provide best practices when screening and interviewing candidates. As part of a skills-based hiring strategy, the Healey-Driscoll Administration aims to reduce unconscious bias in the workplace by focusing on eliminating biases during the hiring process.

Residents interested in a career in state government, including roles in health, human services, transportation, IT, finance, housing, economic and workforce development, veterans’ services, energy, climate, environmental affairs, public safety, and education, can visit the MassCareers website for job opportunities.

Those interested in learning more about degree and certificate programs, as well as workforce training at Northern Essex can visit the college’s website.