More than 90% of state government jobs in Pennsylvania will no longer require a four-year degree, Gov. Josh Shapiro announced Jan. 18.
“I believe in the value of apprenticeship programs and vocational education,” Shapiro said in a tweet. “I don’t care if you have a four year degree on your wall or not. If you’re qualified for the job, you deserve the job.”
The move opens up 65,000 jobs to those without four-year degrees, according to the executive order. The order also notes that for the remaining 8% of jobs that still require a degree, the secretary of administration will “conduct a review to determine which job classifications are appropriate to include practical experience, in lieu of, or in addition to, a four-year college degree requirement.”
As states move to end college degree requirements, some have sought, like Pennsylvania, to ensure job seekers “skilled through alternative routes” have opportunities, as well. Maryland’s announcement specifically mentioned apprenticeships, boot camps, military service and other forms of on-the-job training as skill-building alternatives.
Utah’s announcement directed hiring managers and committees to consider comparable experience as “equal to educational qualifications at every step in the evaluation and recruiting process.”
Employers more broadly have said they believe skill-building credentials and real-world experience are more important than degrees — but many still require degrees for entry-level positions due to concerns over the legitimacy of other credentials, according to a Cengage survey released in July.
The talent gap, however, has employers considering alternatives more seriously, Cengage said. Pennsylvania’s executive order also mentioned pressure in finding talent as one reason for the change.