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

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Gov. Spencer Cox outlined the state’s efforts to abolish the need for bachelor’s degrees in staff recruiting, emphasizing similar support from municipal 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 equal to educational qualifications at every step in the evaluation and recruiting process.

According to Gov. Cox, removing the need for a bachelor’s degree will provide access to competent talent and increase employment prospects, attracting various candidates from marginalized communities. This may result in more employment opportunities for candidates in rural areas, more opportunities through the state’s program for people returning to the workforce after a prolonged absence, and more opportunities for apprenticeships and other on-the-job training programs coordinated 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. Still, he emphasized that a degree should not be the only way to get a good-paying job or have a fulfilling career.

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