State Drops College Requirement for Key Jobs

State Drops College Requirement for Key Jobs

( – Virginia has just announced a radical change to how it hires state employees. From now on, most public officials won’t need a college degree. State officials say this will improve services and create more opportunities for Virginians.

On May 30, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) announced that college degree requirements for around 90% of state positions will be axed. He said the move will “expand possibilities and career paths” as well as let the state deliver better services. He also pointed out that Virginia now has the highest rate of workforce participation in almost a decade.

Virginia’s state agencies generally try to hire around 20,000 people a year, and many of them — especially higher-level posts and jobs in the executive branch — require applicants to have college degrees. On July 1, that’s going to change; Virginia Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater says the state will now be looking for people with “experience, training, knowledge, skills, abilities, and most importantly, the desire to serve the people of Virginia.” He also revealed the state wants to make it easier to award credentials and licenses for jobs that need them by using regulated private businesses to streamline the process. From July 1, appropriate certifications will carry the same weight as a degree when it comes to hiring.

Youngkin’s plan represents a major shakeup for Virginia, but he isn’t the first governor to go down this route. Former Maryland governor Larry Hogan (R) brought in a similar scheme last year — which former president Barack Obama called “a smart policy.” Alaska, Colorado, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Utah quickly followed his example.

The move away from a college degree as the gold standard for state jobs is gathering momentum; even in Virginia, there are Democrats who back Youngkin on the idea. State Senate candidate Schuyler T. VanValkenburg praised Youngkin for expanding “opportunities for working folk.” It looks like a rare example of a genuinely bipartisan policy.

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