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Delaware drops bachelor’s degree requirement for 350 state jobs

Katie Tabeling
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Delaware has been shifting strategies to hire more employees, and its most recent tactic includes dropping a college degree requirements from some roles.

Delaware has been shifting strategies to hire more employees, and its most recent tactic includes dropping a college degree requirement from some roles.| PHOTO COURTESY OF AB&C

WILMINGTON — Select state government offices will no longer require bachelor’s degrees for 350 positions, per a policy change rolled out by Gov. John Carney on Jan. 10.

The Carney administration announced Wednesday that the state has dropped the degree requirement for roles in the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families (DSCYF) and the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), encompassing six Family Service classifications. 

Instead, relevant job experience and other education throughout an applicant’s career would be considered. The state Human Resources Department also simplified the application.

“These important and practical changes will expand our talent pool and give more qualified individuals an opportunity for a career in state government,” Carney said in a statement. “By aligning job requirements with professional experience, and placing more attention on the skills of an individual candidate, we will better serve Delawareans.”

One of the key changes includes reducing the job requirements from five to one for Family Service assistants and Family Service specialists. The first entry-level position allows for experience or knowledge to expand the pool.

In the 1990s, the state added a bachelor’s degree requirement to scores of positions. Human Resources Secretary Claire DeMatteis has been reviewing requirements across the board in state government and making adjustments as needed since she was appointed to the post.

“Our review and practical experience show a bachelor’s degree can be an unnecessary barrier to employing otherwise qualified professionals,” DeMatteis said.

 DeMatteis’s office said that since dropping the requirement for bachelor’s degrees, it has seen four times the number of qualified candidates apply.

DHSS is the state’s largest agency devoted to health and social work with 11 divisions and with 3,085 employees as of Fiscal Year 2022. DSCYF provides services for children who deal with neglect, mental illness or struggle with other issues. It has 1,080 employees. Not all of these positions require bachelor degrees, though.

“Delaware has executed a multifaceted strategy to address recruitment challenges. Removing the bachelor’s degree requirement from certain positions is just one facet of our approach,” Delaware Human Resources Director Ashley Blok said. “We’ve launched an extensive marketing campaign emphasizing competitive salaries, sign-on bonuses, comprehensive healthcare benefits, retirement plans and an improved hiring process.”

Delaware also recently dropped a bachelor’s degree requirement for 210 positions in probation officers, human resource advisors and human resource analysts classifications.

In total, 560 positions have been impacted by the revision.

In response, the Delaware General Assembly passed a resolution seeking to quantify how the college degree requirement serves as a deterrent for state positions, as well as where it is needed. House Concurrent Resolution 76 directs the state Human Resource department to issue a report on hiring and promoting practices, specifically with jobs that require degrees.

The resolution also seeks to outline findings from an 18-month review of state positions and how this requirement may impact both  DSCYF and DHSS, as well as making recommendations moving forward to similar changes in other state positions.

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