Shapiro Eliminates Four-Year Degree Requirement For Thousands Of State Jobs

Gov. Shapiro announcing executive order

In his first official act, Gov. Josh Shapiro signed an Executive Order on Wednesday, eliminating four-year degree requirements for approximately 92 percent or 65,000 state jobs in the Commonwealth.

The governor instructed the Office of Administration to emphasize skills and experience in Commonwealth job postings and ordering a review of the remaining eight percent of state government jobs that currently require a four-year degree, many of which are required statutorily required.

“Every Pennsylvanian should have the freedom to chart their own course and have a real opportunity to succeed,” said Shapiro. “They should get to decide what’s best for them – whether they want to go to college or straight into the workforce – not have that decided for them.”

“Today, we are making sure Pennsylvanians know that the doors of opportunity are wide open to those who want to serve our Commonwealth, regardless of whether or not they have a degree. I want to make it clear to all Pennsylvanians, whether they went to college or they gained experience through work, job training, or an apprenticeship program: we value your skills and talents, and we want you to apply for a job with the Commonwealth.”

Shapiro also ordered all state agencies under his jurisdiction to take steps to emphasize work experience in their hiring. As part of that order, the Shapiro Administration launched a new website where applicants can easily search among the thousands of open positions that don’t require a four-year degree. That website is now linked from the homepage at www.employment.pa.gov.

“As a long-time Commonwealth employee who does not have a four-year degree, Governor Shapiro’s signing of this Executive Order means so much to me, both personally and professionally,” said Acting Deputy Secretary of Administration Beth Christian. “This Executive Order tells current Commonwealth employees and anyone looking to come work for the state of Pennsylvania, we support you, with or without a degree. Thank you, Governor Shapiro for recognizing the importance of this topic and ensuring that removing barriers for state employment is a priority.”

According to the Department of Labor & Industry, more than seven million Pennsylvanians do not hold a four-year degree, and millions of Pennsylvanians develop their skills through alternative routes such as two-year degree programs, apprenticeships, military service, job training, and on-the-job experience.

The move follows a similar order from former Maryland governor Larry Hogan in March of 2022.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board wrote in September that “while four-year college educations can impart job-specific knowledge and intangible skills, such as problem solving and time management, most or all of those can be learned in other academic settings, such as community and technical colleges, or on-the-job.”

4 Responses

  1. It’s simply not true that four years of study can be duplicated elsewhere. It transforms your understanding of the world and of yourself.

    Instead of spreading education to more people – remember the Democrats backing four year college for all (Hillary Clinton) or two years college for all (Biden) – we are instead denying its value, leading people into ignorance. How cotempable.

    The devaluing of education, especially in the humanities, is a long-term goal of the reactionary right-wing, which doesn’t like to pay for anything, exists to obstruct progress (thus ‘reactionary’), and doesn’t like that the outcome of scholarship is progress and that the right is clearly wrong.

    That almost everyone, of all stripes, now repeats that (and other aspects of their propaganda) shows their astounding power, which the mainstream Democrats failed to stand up to.

    1. Realist here, who speaks to the approval of this policy. Capitalistic financial barriers (College costs) exclude many eligible candidates simply for middle/lower class buying power, not abilities. Military Veteran here, with an A.S. Degree, whom made six figure salary (retired) not due to hundreds of thousand dollar “sheepskin”, and managed workforce consisting of 4 year and Masters Degreed individuals.

  2. Definitely a step in the right direction. Gov Shapiro basically is saying that the student loan debt mess is created in part by the bias toward 4 year degrees and to ease debt borrowing of student loans let’s make education requirements more adaptable. We got to do something to reduce the weight of student loan borrowing and without question Gov Shapiro’s actions are a very positive step. Thank You!

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