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Virginia’s Gov. Youngkin latest to scrap college degree requirement for most state jobs

A growing number of states are shifting to skills-based hiring, National Governors Association said

Virginia axed bachelor’s degree requirements for 90 percent of state jobs this week, following a precedent adopted by several states with bipartisan support over the last year.

“Governor Glenn Youngkin announced today a landmark change in how state agencies will recruit and compete for talent by eliminating degree requirements, preferences or both for almost 90% of state classified positions,” according to a Tuesday news release from the governor’s office.

The change will go into effect July 1.

The shift “will improve hiring processes, expand possibilities and career paths for job seekers and enhance our ability to deliver quality services,” Youngkin, a Republican, stated in the release.

“Yesterday’s announcement by @GovernorVA added Virginia to the growing number of states moving toward skills-based hiring,” the National Governors Association tweeted Thursday.

Virginia state agencies advertise more than 20,000 jobs per year, according to the governor’s office.

Youngkin latest governor to expand candidate pool, emphasize skill-based hiring

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, announced in March 2022 that he would lift the four-year degree requirement to apply for thousands of state jobs as part of a “first-in-the-nation workforce development initiative,” The College Fix reported last year.

Virginia is the seventh state to follow Hogan’s lead, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

“Critics warned that [Hogan] was lowering standards and devaluing higher education,” according to The Post. “But supporters — Democrats among them — applauded Hogan for lowering barriers for workers who lack four-year degrees but have other skills and training.”

Last December, Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah scrapped degree requirements for most civil service jobs, The Fix reported.

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

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro was the first Democrat to follow suit in January of this year by eliminating bachelor’s degree requirements for 92 percent of state positions, The Fix reported.

For Pennsylvania, that was roughly 65,000 jobs now open to candidates without four-year degrees, Shapiro said at a Jan. 18 press conference.

Shapiro also said he would review the relevance of degree requirements for the remaining eight percent of state positions.

Over 66 percent of Pennsylvanians lack bachelor’s degrees, according to 2022 U.S. Census data.

Approximately six in 10 Americans do not have a bachelor’s degree as of 2022, according to the Pew Research Center.

MORE: Researchers, politicians agree: fewer jobs should require degrees

IMAGE: @GovernorVA/Twitter

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About the Author
assistant editor
Maggie has previously worked as an associate editor of Columbia magazine, an editorial assistant at DNAinfo.com, and an elementary school teacher at a charter school in Phoenix. She holds a B.A. from New York University and lives in Philadelphia.