Author: Jamila Bey        Published: 3/16/2022         TWI

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced what he called a “first-in-the-nation” workforce development initiative to eliminate the requirement of a four-year college degree from thousands of state jobs.

The state will recruit job seekers who are “Skilled Through Alternative Routes” (STARs).

“Through these efforts we are launching today, we are ensuring that qualified, non-degree candidates are regularly being considered for these career-changing opportunities,” said Governor Hogan. “This is exactly the kind of bold, bipartisan solution we need to continue leading the nation by giving even more Marylanders the opportunities they need to be successful.”

The State of Maryland employs more than 38,000 individuals. The  Maryland Department of Budget and Management estimates that more than half of those jobs can substitute relevant experience, training, and/or community college education for a four-year degree. There are more than 300 open state government jobs that no longer require a four-year degree, listed on “Stellarworx,” Opportunity@Work’s STARs talent marketplace.

STARs are age 25 or older, active in the labor force, hold a high school diploma or equivalent, and they have developed their skills through alternative routes such as community college, apprenticeships, military service, boot camps, and most commonly, experience on-the-job. Opportunity@Work estimates that there are currently more than 70 million STARs in the United States.

Of the 2,869,000 workers in Maryland today, more than 1.3 million, or 47%, are considered STARs. Nationally, 61% of Black workers, 55% of Hispanic workers, 66% of rural workers of all races, and 61% of veterans are STARs.