ACCT Announces Skills-Based Hiring Partnership with Opportunity@Work for the State of Maryland

Partners receive a $350,000 grant to pilot a skills-based hiring project with four Maryland community colleges to support alignment of their career education with local job markets

December 1, 2022

Washington, D.C. — December 1, 2022 — The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) today announced the launch of a partnership pilot program that focuses on increasing the effectiveness of skills-based hiring. Lumina Foundation generously supports this work with a $350,000 grant..

The partnership includes ACCT, Opportunity@Work, the State of Maryland, select employers in identified sectors, and four pilot Maryland Community Colleges. This pilot will demonstrate the effectiveness of skills-based hiring by designing and/or enhancing existing training programs at four community colleges around the essential skills most needed for specific occupations, creating a pipeline of skilled and career-ready job candidates for open roles.

“Community colleges already play an important role in workforce development across the country,” said ACCT President and CEO Jee Hang Lee. “This project will develop a roadmap for institutions nationwide to standardize their process for helping employers to identify the specific skills needed for high-demand jobs in their region.”

The impetus for this project is the partnership between Opportunity@Work and the State of Maryland. In March, they launched a multi-pronged, first-in-the-nation effort to formally eliminate bachelor’s degree requirement from thousands of state jobs, opening equitable access for the overlooked talent category of STARs – workers who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes. There are over 70 million workers in the U.S. today – and more than 1.3 million in Maryland – who obtain skills through alternative routes such as community college, military service, boot camps, and workforce training programs rather than through a bachelor’s degree program are being screened out from jobs today. Nearly half of these STARs have the skills to thrive in higher-wage, in-demand roles that pay up to 50% more on average. To ensure everyone has access to a good job and the opportunity to achieve greater economic mobility, employers must intentionally include STARs in their talent acquisition strategy. This project aims to utilize and streamline this process to improve the partnerships between community colleges and local employers.

“We believe that a four-year degree cannot be the only path to success,” said Opportunity@Work Chief Customer Officer Bridgette Gray. “Employers shouldn’t limit a candidate’s opportunities and in effect, pull up a drawbridge by requiring degrees rather than considering other qualifications. Improving partnerships between community colleges and business will ensure that training programs deliver the necessary skills that employers are looking for and a way to enhance them as those needs change.”

“Meeting Lumina’s goal – to have 60 percent of working-age adults obtain a high-quality credential or degree by 2025– makes it crucial to have equitable access to career pathways through multiple channels,” says Lumina’s Strategy Director of Employer-Aligned Programs Kermit Kaleba. “This new project’s focus on skills-based hiring provides yet another pathway for students to expand their access to high-earnings jobs through post-high school training.”

The four Maryland colleges participating in the pilot program are:

For more information about this initiative, visit this page or contact Steve Jurch at