California cuts degree requirements for 169 state jobs amid rising unemployment

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(The Center Square) – The state of California has reduced educational requirements for 169 government jobs as California simultaneously faces rising unemployment, declining labor participation, and a labor shortage. California isn’t alone in pursuing reduced educational attainment requirements for state jobs — states from Virginia to Maryland and Pennsylvania have adopted similar positions to help fill long-vacant jobs.

“At the governor’s direction CalHR has so far removed employment barriers from 169 job classifications where a degree or other education requirements are not necessary,” said the California Department of Human Resources in a public statement. “This will expand opportunities and access to well-paying jobs in government service.”

Earlier in the year, governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring CalHR to evaluate whether a college degree is needed for a particular position whenever its classification is reviewed while also renaming the “Governor’s Council for Postsecondary Education” to the “Governor’s Council for Career Education,” reflecting the state’s emphasis on non-college career pathways.

State Republicans have supported the measure, noting that alternatives to a four-year college degree can yield satisfying, well-paying careers in high-demand fields.

“There is a common misconception that a four-year college degree is the only pathway to success. Technical and trade careers can be just as lucrative and rewarding. In fact, the demand for skilled workers in various industries, such as construction, manufacturing, and healthcare, is on the rise,” said State Sen. Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, to The Center Square. “Furthermore, these skilled workers build and maintain infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, that we rely on every day. Undoubtedly, we have a labor shortage in California, and should be doing all we can to remove barriers that impede workforce recruitment and retention.”

California joins Maryland, Utah, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Alaska, North Carolina, New Jersey and Virginia in eliminating degree requirements for many government jobs. According to January 2024 data from recruitment platform ZipRecruiter, the average salary for government jobs in California is $111,224 per year, with 25th percentile pay at $92,800 and 75th percentile pay at $130,800 per year. The median household income in California is $83,500, which means just one typical state government job pays significantly more than what normal two-income California households make each year.

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