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Gov. Cox launches skills-first hiring initiative for state government

Emma Williams - Office of the Governor
Article Date
December 13, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY (Dec. 13, 2022) – Utah Gov. Spencer Cox announced the state’s efforts to eliminate the requirement for bachelor’s degrees in its employee recruitment and emphasized similar support by local governments and the private sector.

“Degrees have become a blanketed barrier-to-entry in too many jobs,” Gov. Cox said. “Instead of focusing on demonstrated competence, the focus too often has been on a piece of paper. We are changing that.”

The state executive branch has 1,080 different classified jobs. Of those, 98% – or 1,058 – do not require a degree. Instead, the state’s hiring managers and hiring committees consider comparable experience as equal to educational qualifications at every step in the evaluation and recruiting process. 

Gov. Cox said that eliminating bachelor’s degree requirements will broaden access to qualified talent and expand employment opportunities to attract diverse candidates, including underrepresented groups. This can lead to more jobs for candidates in rural areas, more opportunities for those returning to work after an extended absence through the state’s Returnship program, and more opportunities for apprenticeships and other on-the-job training opportunities facilitated by the Department of Workforce Services. 

The governor affirmed both his support for those who choose a degree-seeking route and his commitment to Utah’s world-class colleges and universities, but emphasized that a degree should not be the only way to get a good paying job or have a fulfilling career. 

Delta Airlines Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer Joanne Smith, Utah System of Higher Education Commissioner David Woolstenhulme and Utah Association of Counties CEO Brandy Grace joined Gov. Cox to show their support for the initiative and share their experiences. 

You can watch the news conference here…