In signing an executive order Friday revamping how the federal government does hiring, President Donald Trump took aim at the necessity of having a college degree. Something many companies already practice and and the shift in federal government hiring marks a big change for the United States.
Trump, in ordering that the government move away from requiring that applicants have degrees, said he wants to make it easier for those without a higher education to get federal jobs.
But higher education leaders said they didn’t take the move as a blow. The government still will want applicants who have the skills they get from going to college.
“I don’t think the federal government is going to start hiring public health specialists without a public health background or engineers without an engineering background,” said Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education’s senior vice president for government and public affairs.
Trump is ordering that the federal personnel management office within six months revise qualifications it requires for jobs with the U.S. government.
A college degree will be required only if mandated by law, or if agencies filling a position believe a college degree is necessary.
Mike Rigas, the acting director of the federal Office of Personnel Management, acknowledged during a briefing with reporters that a degree will still be necessary in some jobs.
But for other jobs, the federal government will no longer disqualify applicants who have the skills for a position because they do not have a degree, a senior administration official told reporters.
Agencies filling jobs will assess the skills of applicants through measures like online tests or involving subject experts in interviewing candidates.
“While education credentials are critical in many lines of work, such as the medical and legal fields, their necessity is far less clear in other areas,” Rigas said.
Administration officials didn’t identify which jobs will no longer require a college education. But the senior official said, for instance, it’s unfair that applicants who have a degree, even one unrelated to the job they’re applying for, currently are deemed more qualified than another candidate who may have greater skills but no degree.
The move appeared to be a nod to voters without college degrees who strongly supported Trump in his election and are key to his re-election hopes. In making the change, Brooke Rollins, Trump’s acting domestic policy adviser, told reporters that the order will create more job pathways for the two-thirds of Americans who do not have college degrees.
Trump, before signing the order at a meeting Friday of his workforce policy advisory board, said, “The federal government will no longer be narrowly focused on where you went to school but the skill you bring to the job.”
Such a move could drastically reduce the value of a degree, given the amount of self-teach/self-help information that is available online. $20,000-$49,000 per semester for a degree, or self teach and acquire the skills for a fraction of the price?