On January 2, newly appointed Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle L. Parker signed an executive order eliminating the need for a college degree for some public employment. A few hours after her inauguration, she signed the order.
Under Parker’s 100-Day Action Plan, the mayor’s office “will continue to spread the word about current job opportunities in city government — opening the door for more Philadelphians to access good-paying jobs and remove college degree requirements for many City of Philadelphia jobs where it is unnecessary.”
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that only around one-third of Philadelphians who are 25 years of age or older have a bachelor’s degree.
Philadelphia’s action follows a pattern in state and local governance. For instance, the state of Maryland did away with the need for a four-year degree for thousands of public jobs in March 2022, emphasizing talent that is “skilled through alternative routes” or STARs.
Employers in the public sector are not the only ones modifying their hiring standards. For instance, Walmart declared in the fall of last year that it would no longer require a degree for certain corporate positions.
Businesses at all ranks and titles are welcoming the change: According to a poll by Intelligent.com, 55% of companies claimed they no longer require a degree for entry-level and mid-level jobs.
Higher education analyst Diane Gayeski shared this data and noted that obtaining a bachelor’s degree has become “generally more difficult for people from traditionally marginalized groups and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds” due to the sheer cost of attending college.
“Knowing how to navigate applying to colleges, finding scholarships, and other resources can be much more difficult if a student’s parents didn’t attend college or if they are from outside the U.S.,” continued Gayeski. According to the survey, 70% of companies indicated they have done away with the need for a bachelor’s degree to develop a more varied talent pool.
Roughly two-thirds of employers told Intelligent.com that they require candidates to undergo skill assessments to properly screen talent. The majority of businesses stated that they favor experience over degree in potential recruits.
In 2024, 45% of companies stated they intended to do away with the need for a degree for some jobs.