Gov. Shapiro Inaugurated, Takes First Executive Action by Removing College Degree Requirement for Thousands of State Jobs

Gov. Josh Shapiro became Pennsylvania’s 48th governor on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at a swearing-in ceremony at the State Capitol flanked by his family and before the members of his newly appointed senior staff and Cabinet nominees, legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle, Lt. Gov. Austin Davis and former governors. Shapiro took his oath of office placing his left hand on three bibles – a personal family bible, one carried by a Philadelphian on D-Day, and one from the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the site of a tragic shooting in 2018. Gov. Shapiro then delivered an optimistic speech urging Pennsylvanians to put partisan differences aside and work together.


As noted in a Pennlive story, Gov. Shapiro’s early focus will be addressing Pennsylvania’s “so-called kitchen-table issues”:  education, public safety and the economy.


The PA Chamber supports many of the initiatives Gov. Shapiro has outlined to energize Pennsylvania’s economy – including accelerating the phase-down of the Corporate Net Income Tax rate and creating a “one-stop shop” within the Department of Community and Economic Development to address business needs. Some other shared pro-growth goals, as listed across our 2023 Legislative Agenda, include permitting reforms to expedite economy-boosting projects and bring jobs and opportunity to rural and urban regions alike; workforce development initiatives that would tap into new and underserved pools of talent and fill skills gaps; and well-functioning, modern infrastructure network.


The day after his inauguration, Gov. Shapiro signed his first executive action, instructing the state to prioritize skills and experience over college degree requirements for 65,000 state job listings. This comes at a time when the Commonwealth’s labor participation rate continues to fall and is a shift away from the long-held requirement that public sector jobs require a college degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the public sector requiring a postsecondary education made up 63.5 percent of state government employment and 61.1 percent of local government employment, compared to just 35 percent in the private sector.


“I want to make it clear to all Pennsylvanians, whether they went to college or they gained experience through work, job training, or an apprenticeship program, we value your skills and talents, and we want you to apply for a job with the Commonwealth,” Gov. Shapiro said.


The Executive Order is effective immediately and also calls for a review of those jobs that still require a college degree to determine which are appropriate to substitute practical experience in lieu of a four-year degree. The administration also launched a website where job-seekers can browse job listings that don’t require a college degree.


Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.