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College Degrees No Longer Essential for Some State Jobs

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey recently unveiled a new initiative via executive order that is intended to dramatically increase access to state jobs and reduce reliance on college degrees.

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(TNS) — If you have the skills, knowledge and ability to succeed in a state job, a new door has opened to job opportunities.

Gov. Maura Healey recently unveiled a new initiative intended to dramatically increase access to state jobs and reduce reliance on college degrees.

Healey signed an executive order on Thursday, creating the "Lead by Example" Employer Talent Initiative, instituting skills-based hiring practices for the state's workforce.

With the executive order, for the vast majority of state job postings the administration will focus primarily on applicants' skills, knowledge, and abilities rather than educational credentials. Job postings will only be allowed to require college degrees when absolutely necessary.

Additionally, the administration will work with the state's business community to encourage the evaluation and elimination of unnecessary education requirements for open positions.

"As the state's largest employer, we rely on a strong, diverse workforce to deliver crucial services and programs for Massachusetts residents, businesses and communities every day. But too many job applicants are being held back by unnecessary degree requirements," Healey said.

"We are leading by example here in the Healey-Driscoll Administration, and we encourage the business community to join us by adopting similar skills-based hiring practices."

Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn said he has been advocating for such an initiative for more than a decade. He said NECC has been at the forefront of addressing the skilled workforce shortage through programs and partnerships, and this new initiative presents opportunities for state and employer partners to invest more time, money, and expertise in right-sizing and re-aligning the credentials needed for today's workforce.

"There are many ways to demonstrate knowledge and skills beyond college degrees, including prior learning assessment, micro-credentials, apprenticeships, internships, and on-the-job experience," Glenn said.

Northern Essex continues to add more courses and programs to address the workforce needs of the local business community, Glenn said.

A new certificate program in Lab Science was recently launched, and three more certificate programs are expected to receive approval in the coming months. Certificate programs allow students to earn valuable job skills in a matter of weeks or months.

Northern Essex also offers more tailored programs for local employers who seek to train or upskill current workers through the Center for Corporate and Community Education. Additionally, the CCCE can help secure workforce training grants that often cover the entire cost for employers.

"If you can hire someone for aptitude, we can upskill them," said CCCE Director Linda Schildkraut. "Jobs have changed since the pandemic started, and when there's a disconnect between skills employers are looking to hire and the skills job seekers have, we can help bridge that gap."

The Executive Order also requires the completion of a skills-based hiring training course for all agency managers and support teams to ensure that job postings and interview questions focus on a candidate's skills, knowledge, and abilities.

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development will collaborate with private, non-profit, and government employers to develop and publish best practices resources for the broader business community to also adopt skills-based hiring strategies.

As part of its guidance to departments and agencies, the state Human Resources Division will develop tools for skills-based recruiting, such as identifying and reducing bias, writing a job description, and creating a recruitment plan.

HRD will also provide best practices when screening and interviewing candidates. As part of a skills-based hiring strategy, the Healey-Driscoll Administration aims to reduce unconscious bias in the workplace by focusing on eliminating biases during the hiring process.

Residents interested in a career in state government, including health, human services, transportation, IT, finance, housing, economic and workforce development, veterans' services, energy, climate, environmental affairs, public safety, and education, can visit the MassCareers website for job opportunities at

Those interested in learning more about degree and certificate programs, as well as workforce training at Northern Essex can visit the college's online at For the full press release, visit

© 2024 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.