Breakthrough: State Dumps Degree Requirement for 65,000 Jobs, Promotes 'Practical Experience' Over College

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Pennsylvania is making major moves in the area of government employment.

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On January 18th, Gov. Josh Shapiro signed his first executive order; it was effective immediately.

Per the press release:

[The governor] announced that…92 percent of state government jobs — about 65,000 positions — do not require a four-year college degree.

Executive Order 2023-03 instructs “the Office of Administration to emphasize skills and experience in Commonwealth job postings.” Additionally, the order directs a review “of the remaining eight percent of state government jobs that currently require a four-year degree.”

A new emphasis is prescribed:

[The governor]…ordered all state agencies under his jurisdiction to take steps to emphasize work experience in their hiring.

For residents hoping to fill the revamped positions, a website was launched. Employment.pa.gov now takes aspiring employee to the thousands of open positions not requiring a degree.

As quoted in the news brief, Democratic Gov. Josh hailed freedom:

“Every Pennsylvanian should have the freedom to chart their own course and have a real opportunity to succeed. They should get to decide what’s best for them – whether they want to go to college or straight into the workforce – not have that decided for them. Today, we are making sure Pennsylvanians know that the doors of opportunity are wide open to those who want to serve our Commonwealth, regardless of whether or not they have a degree. I want to make it clear to all Pennsylvanians, whether they went to college or they gained experience through work, job training, or an apprenticeship program: We value your skills and talents, and we want you to apply for a job with the Commonwealth.”

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There are certainly a lot of people who could benefit; as noted by The College Fix, U.S. Census data shows that more than 66 percent of Pennsylvanians are without a four-year degree.

Pennsylvania isn’t alone in its effort to make publicly-funded positions available to more applicants. Last March, Maryland axed its degree requirement. And as I covered January 1st, Utah made a similar change. Republican Gov. Spencer explained thusly:

“Degrees have become a blanketed barrier-to-entry in too many jobs. Instead of focusing on demonstrated competence, the focus too often has been on a piece of paper. We are changing that.”

The implication of a college degree seems to have radically changed. Academic focus appears to have been replaced by an emphasis on social engineering. Furthermore, as even secretarial positions have begun mandating degrees, more people are going to secondary school — it’s no longer just for high school brainiacs. Hence, those graduating from college aren’t necessarily the cream of the scholarly crop in the way they once were.

But even if the above is a mischaracterization, most American jobs are the sort that can be — and, ordinarily, are — learned via on-the-job training. And a degree doesn’t necessarily make someone more likely to perform well at the tasks for which they train.

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Tax-funded positions aren’t the only ones set for transformation. Courtesy of CNBC:

Companies, especially those in tech, have been trying upskilling, reskilling, and quicker background checks to get enough of the talent they need amid labor challenges. Now they’re trying something else: requiring no college degrees. In place of four-year degrees, many companies are instead focusing on skills-based hiring to widen the talent pool.

Perhaps the end to college degree requirements in government jobs is one progressive path forged by public officials that’s poised to improve society. Pennsylvania is clearly hoping so.

From EO 2023-03:

[T]here is an unprecedented demand for labor throughout the Commonwealth, which requires the government to be flexible and innovative in hiring and retaining a talented workforce capable of serving the people of Pennsylvania…. … [R]ecognizing professional backgrounds that are based on skill, competency, and practical experience over educational accomplishments can promote innovation and diverse perspectives in the workplace… [I]n the modern labor market, applicants gain knowledge, skills, and abilities through a variety of means — including apprenticeships, on-the-job training, military training, and trade schools… … [M]odernizing the Commonwealth’s hiring model to a model focused on skill, competency, and practical experience — rather than just educational background — will offer new opportunities for all Pennsylvanians to succeed professionally…

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-ALEX

 

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