(NewsNation) – In March this year, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced that his administration would remove four-year college degree requirements from thousands of jobs in the state, a move that put more people at work and attracted attention across the country.
The goal was to provide more opportunities for STARs, qualified individuals via alternate routes. STARs are typically individuals age 25 or older who are in the current workforce after graduating from high school and then gaining skills on the job, at community college, through service military or other similar experiences.
“Through these efforts we’re launching today, we’re ensuring that qualified and undergraduate candidates are consistently considered for these career-changing opportunities,” Hogan said in his announcement.
Months later, the number of STARs the state employs has increased dramatically. Between May and August of this year, the state hired 1,836 people who didn’t have a four-year degree, a 41% year-over-year increase, according to Joseph Farren, chief strategy officer. at the office of the Maryland Secretary of Labor. Many of these workers have been hired in the areas of IT, customer service and administration.
“This marks what we think is a very impressive increase in STAR hiring,” Farren said.
Maryland’s move to open up more jobs in the state to people without a four-year college degree is part of a growing movement across the country to combat so-called “degree inflation,” when employers add four-year college degree requirements to jobs that historically haven’t had those requirements.
Manjari Raman, program director of the Managing the Future of Work Project at Harvard Business School, has spent years researching credential inflation.
In 2015, his team looked at job postings for common jobs like executive assistants and found that they often asked for a four-year college degree, even when most people currently in those jobs didn’t. had not.
“We found that a majority, like 70% of executive assistants in 2015, did not have a four-year college degree. But 80% of job postings for an executive assistant in 2015 were asking for (a four-year college degree),” Raman said.
Raman and other researchers have found that degree inflation occurs throughout the economy. One explanation for this inflation is that many jobs have become more complicated over time, she said. Executive assistants, for example, are increasingly called upon to use computer applications that did not exist decades ago.
“So employers started using a four-year college degree as an indicator” for all those skills, Raman said.
Degree inflation has caused several problems. Sixty-two percent of Americans over 25 are unlicensed and locked out of jobs with four-year requirements.
Additionally, it can lead people with a four-year degree into jobs where it is not needed, sometimes resulting in high turnover. Raman gave the example of a barista with a college degree.
“They don’t really want to be a barista. They want to be the assistant manager of this Starbucks,” she said.
Raman conceded that there are some jobs where the addition of degree requirements may be warranted due to the increasing complexity of these fields.
“I think nursing is one of those cases where nursing jobs have become so sophisticated and complicated,” she said.
Many employers have taken it upon themselves in recent years to re-examine their job requirements. A recent report from the Burning Glass Institute found that many employers are now experiencing a “degree reset,” where they are removing degree requirements from jobs.
For example, technology company IBM announced last year that it had eliminated licensing requirements from about half of its job postings. The Burning Glass Institute report estimates that, based on current trends, “an additional 1.4 million jobs could be opened up to workers without a college degree over the next five years.”
Other states may soon join Maryland in the fight against degree inflation. Pennsylvania Governor-elect Josh Shapiro has campaigned to remove degree requirements from many jobs in the state.
“Eliminating college degree requirements for thousands of state government jobs is a key part of Governor-elect Shapiro’s vision for a Pennsylvania where workers can get ahead, whether they went to college or not,” Shapiro’s spokesman Manuel Broder said. country.
In Maryland, Farren is happy with the results so far.
“I think a lot of HR managers would tell you that non-grad candidates are hungrier, they have something to prove, and they’re ready to go above and beyond,” he said.
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