Taking aim at credentialism

Graham Hillard:

Last week, following an executive order by Gov. Roy Cooper, North Carolina joined a growing movement to pull down unnecessary barriers to public employment.

Bearing the modest title “Recognizing the Value of Experience in State Government Hiring,” Executive Order No. 278 makes a number of concessions to economic reality. First, the order “recognizes that state employees bring value to their jobs from their experience and skills, not only from academic degrees.” Second, it acknowledges that many North Carolinians make use of technical education and apprenticeships rather than four-year colleges and are none the worse for it.

The upshot of these admissions? The director of the Office of State Human Resources must now take action “to emphasize how directly-related experience substitutes for formal education in [state] job recruitments.” Mandatory four-year degrees and the attendant credential inflation? Out. Rational hiring based on applicants’ skills and capabilities? Happily in.

Cooper’s order is merely the latest in a long line of equivalent state directives. Already this year, Pennsylvania’s Gov. Josh Shapiro acted to ensure that 92 percent of commonwealth jobs would be open to Keystoners without four-year degrees. ColoradoUtah, and Maryland made similar moves in 2022, with Alaska following suit just last month.

The state’s clerical and data-entry employees will no longer have a basic conversance with the plot of King Lear.To be sure, these policy shifts have more to do with worker shortages and “equity” than they do with the principles of higher-ed reform. Nevertheless, they deserve praise from the reform-minded. At long last, official stances are beginning to catch up with the facts on the ground: Many if not most state functions can be performed by the uncredentialed.