Governor Dunleavy recently announced that most state jobs will no longer require a four-year college degree due to workforce needs. He said, “Today people can gain knowledge, skills and abilities through on-the-job experience. If we’re going to address our labor shortage, we have to recognize the value that apprenticeships, on-the-job training, military training, trade schools and other experience provide applicants. If a person can do the job, we shouldn’t be holding anyone back just because they don’t have a degree.”
Alaska Policy Forum applauds this forward-thinking action and encourages policymakers to consider additional policies that can improve workforce development in Alaska.
Recent forecasts expect Alaska to add 5,300 jobs in 2023 alone, but like the rest of the nation, Alaska is also struggling with a worker shortage. Other states that have also removed college degree requirements for state jobs include Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
Other related policies Alaska Policy Forum has written about include:
— Providing a return-on-investment analysis for career and technical education (CTE) programs in Alaska
— An online dashboard that tells parents and the public how well Alaska’s K-12 schools prepare their students for education, employment, or enlistment
— The creation of a student-facing resource website that provides clear information on a variety of educational pathways and earnings potential in Alaska
Of course, these are just a few ways to communicate to Alaskans what job opportunities are available in the state, as well as the earning potential of those jobs. Much more work needs to be done to educate Alaskans on viable opportunities other than college that provide comparable, or even better, earnings and also benefit the well-being of other Alaskans.
Alaska cannot thrive without a strong workforce, and there is so much potential for steady, well-paying jobs that do not require a four-year college degree or require taking on massive student loan debt. A variety of training via apprenticeships, trade schools, on-the-job training, and other experiences can prepare Alaskans to provide for themselves, their families, and their communities.
The views expressed here are those of the author.