Maryland Gov. Hogan removes college application from some jobs in the state

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Governor Larry Hogan’s recent announcement that Maryland would no longer require college degrees for many state jobs was welcomed by some as a reasonable way to address labor shortages and provide greater opportunities for skilled workers, and was questioned by others concerned about lowering standards.

The movement underscored the ongoing debate over the value of higher education.

Announced by the governor as the first such effort in the country, the initiative made hundreds of jobs available immediately to people who do not have a four-year degree but have experience or other training.

In announcing the move, Hogan (R) said “Through these efforts … we are ensuring that qualified and non-graduate candidates are regularly considered for these career-changing opportunities.” A governor’s spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

“It’s a matter of time!” a user wrote on social media, celebrating that it would reward competence and not credentials. “Arbitrary demands for diplomas and licenses stifle economic growth and freedom,” wrote another person.

Others, however, disturbed the move devalued the university education that many worked hard to earn – and went into debt to achieve – and reflected growing skepticism about the academy.

“Education is seen as a pillar of the American dream,” said Frederick R. Lynch, an associate professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. “Maybe not anymore.”

Following the announcement of Hogan, Lynch wrote on Twitter, “Reducing incentives for higher education is now considered a great idea? . Ignores the cultural, political and social benefits of higher education. Sad.”

Many people responded with skepticism, he said, calling the college a rocket and questioning its value.

Bridgette Gray, head of clients at Opportunity @ Work, the nonprofit organization that works with Maryland to identify and recruit skilled workers, said she was shocked by some of the criticism of the announcement she heard, including that the state was cheating the workforce.

People who can demonstrate that they have skills need to be able to compete for jobs, she said. “No college equals any skill.”

The national debate on the value of higher education is full of politics, both from the right and from the left.

In a 2019 Gallup poll, Republicans were less likely than Democrats to say college is very important, and the overall proportion of adults who thought so had dropped to 51 percent from 70 percent a few years ago. Conservative lawmakers in some states have criticized universities for bringing ideological bias to academia and do not do enough to prepare students for careers. And a common liberal complaint is that many colleges reinforce the status quo, with an expensive education affordable only for wealthy families.

However, a 2021 Lumina-Gallup study expected to be published in April found that 44 percent of adults aged 18 to 59 who do not have a college degree said that compared to 20 years ago, it is more important to have a two- or four-year degree to have a successful career.

Removing barriers to jobs is a good idea, Lynch said, but education has provided increased mobility for tens of millions of minorities and women – and many benefits outside of work, such as critical thinking, civic engagement, healthy behavior, and more.

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In Maryland, government officials will work with Opportunity @ Work to identify people with skills for about 300 jobs such as information technology, customer service and administrative roles. These skills may have come through previous work experience, community college, military service, or other training. Wages will remain the same, officials said.

“We are not at all an anti-college organization,” Gray said. “We believe in college. But we believe that college may not be the only path to success, ”and that employers should not actually open a bridge by seeking degrees instead of considering other qualifications.

Political leaders always talk about lack of talent, she said, but she argues there is no shortage: Employers just have to rethink how they find that talent.

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The changing economy has spurred the need for more skilled workers in recent decades, said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce.

In the 1970s, most jobs did not require a college degree. “Now it ‘s literally back,” he said.

The share of jobs seeking post-secondary education went from just under a third in 1983 to nearly two-thirds in 2021 and is projected to grow to 72 percent by 2031, Carnevale said. And in 1980-1981, less than a million bachelor degrees were awarded, but that number had more than doubled by 2018-2019.

Despite historical resistance to the idea of ​​seeking credentials, the United States has become a credentialized society, he said.

And that leads to credentialism, he argued, with “unfair barriers to moving up for many people.”

But on the question of whether employers are only hiring degrees, Carnevale said the overwhelming evidence is no, they are not. “They actually need these skills from people.”

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Jonathan Butcher, an education researcher at the Heritage Foundation, said there has been an overemphasis on the idea of ​​college as a necessity. with other paths to success.

Over the past few decades, colleges have invested a lot of money in things that have nothing to do with the classroom, Butcher said. “This has been very distracting, if not harmful in some cases,” he said. In some surveys, students have said they were afraid to say their opinion in class, for example, he said.

“There’s a right-wing criticism, there’s a left-wing criticism,” Lynch told the college. “It has some value for both parties,” especially with the rapidly rising cost of higher education.

He thinks results beyond career and salary are important. “There are non-working benefits that come from a university education that we do not think about often enough… Is college worth it for the rest of your life?”

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