Starting in July, Virginia will not require state job applicants to have a college degree across 90% of its classified positions, dramatically altering the utility of a higher education degree.
“This landmark change in hiring practices for our state workforce will improve hiring processes, expand possibilities and career paths for job seekers and enhance our ability to deliver quality services,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a statement accompanying the announcement, according to AP News.
Virginia joins a growing list of states opting to evaluate job applicants’ holistic skillset rather than the black-and-white metric of having a higher education degree. It will affect the evaluation process of about 20,000 state jobs advertised annually by Virginia’s state agencies, according to the governor’s office.
“By giving equal consideration to applicants with an equivalent combination and level of training, knowledge, skills, certifications and experience we have opened a sea of opportunity at all levels of employment for industrious individuals who have the experience, training, knowledge, skills, abilities, and most importantly, the desire to serve the people of Virginia,” Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater said in a statement.
It’s “a landmark change” that the National Governors Association believes will create more hiring equity and diversify a state workforce’s perspectives and skill sets, according to a statement. This move is especially important because it welcomes more individuals to apply during a tight labor market and a reduced pool of talented applicants.
Other states have enacted similar measures
On his first day in office this year, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro signed an executive order removing four-year requirements for most state jobs, affecting 92% (or 65,000) of state jobs. His administration is also reviewing four-year degree requirements for the remaining 8%.
Last year, former Gov. Larry Hogan announced a similar measure across most of Maryland’s state-related jobs. Partnering with OpportunityatWork, whose mission is to “tear the paper ceiling,” Maryland is seeking residents who are “skilled through alternative routes,” or STARs. OpportunityatWork estimates that there are more than 70 million STARs in the U.S.
Colorado, Utah, Alaska, North Carolina, New Jersey, South Dakota and Ohio have enacted similar labor measures.