Maryland eliminates college-degree requirements for thousands of government jobs

Governor Larry Hogan’s announcement comes as student debt reaches historic highs in the US.
article cover

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

· 3 min read

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

Our HR newsletter delivers need-to-know industry news and insights to HR pros every weekday for free.

Maryland is one half of the geographical sandwich bread on either side of Washington, DC (the other slice is Virginia), but the state known for its fabled blue crabs is setting itself apart from its Beltway neighbors by eliminating college-degree requirements for tens of thousands of state-government jobs (crustaceans need not apply).

Earlier this month, Governor Larry Hogan announced that college-degree requirements for thousands of state-government jobs would be eliminated, in what his office described in a press release as a “first-in-the-nation workforce development initiative.” In collaboration with the career-development nonprofit Opportunity@Work, Maryland will expand its search for eligible candidates to join the state government’s workforce, which currently employs 38,000 people, according to Hogan’s announcement.

The program would substitute college degrees with relevant work experience and expand opportunities to a broad section of the eligible workforce, the governor’s office said. It also comes as some private companies reconsider degree requirements and as the total outstanding student debt in the United States reached $1.75 trillion last year.

Merry-land for job seekers? Maryland has STARs in its eyes. The program will focus on recruiting workers that are, as Opportunity@Work calls it, “Skilled Through Alternative Routes” (hence the acronym). They are a booming labor talent pool, according to the nonprofit, which estimates that half of the US workforce falls into the STAR bucket, which consists of workers at least 25 years old who have developed skills “on the job, through military service, in community college, or through other alternative routes,” according to Opportunity@Work’s website. Maryland government jobs that don’t require a degree will be listed on Stellarworx, Opportunity@Work’s online talent marketplace.

Hogan’s announcement comes as officials are seeking to fill vacancies in Maryland’s state government: According to the Baltimore Sun, there are more than 8,600 vacant positions within the state’s executive branch alone. “We are still seeing significant shortages across so many industry sectors,” Hogan said, speaking about the state’s broader labor shortage at a press conference earlier last month, Insider reports.

Dreading debt…Maryland’s decision comes as the prospect of burdensome student debt gives younger generations pause about higher education. According to a synthesis of four surveys by the ECMC Group and Vice Media that polled over 4,000 high school students about their views on college, 59% said they were worried about how they’d pay for college, and 65% said “the cost of tuition and the amount of student loans they would need were important factors in what they choose to do after high school.”SB

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected] or DM @SammBlum on Twitter. For completely confidential conversations, ask Sam for his number on Signal.

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

Our HR newsletter delivers need-to-know industry news and insights to HR pros every weekday for free.