N.J. Gov. Murphy signs order prioritizing job experience and skills over college degrees for state employment

It comes as state and local governments across the country struggle to fill vacant roles.

A closeup of the New Jersey Statehouse

A closeup of the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order on Monday prioritizing skills and work experience over college degree requirements for certain state job opportunities — becoming the seventh U.S. state to institute such changes.

Murphy made the announcement at a press conference with Civil Services Commission Acting Chair Allison Chris Myers.

“Skills and experience gained through prior employment are just as important, if not, in many cases more important than holding a specific degree,” Murphy said.

The order directs the commission to identify all of the job positions that require college degrees and determine which can be revised. Officials said the new policy could lead to upward mobility for families across the state, and that some jobs could pay up to $120,000.

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It comes as state and local governments grapple with a labor shortage, nationwide.

“We are tearing down the so-called paper ceiling,” Murphy said. “Arbitrary degree requirements have left countless smart and talented New Jerseyans at a distinct disadvantage in the labor market and in the workplace.”

Murphy urged private businesses to consider making similar changes.

According to a 2022 study published in Statistica, a quarter of New Jersey residents have just a Bachelor’s degree. About 17% have a graduate or professional degree, the study said.

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