BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced a new workforce development initiative that eliminates the four-year degree requirement for thousands of state jobs.

The governor said Maryland is the first state to formally eliminate the four-year college degree requirement to so many state jobs.

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“It is more important than ever that we work together to find new ways to build a steady pipeline of talented, well-trained skilled workers for the jobs of the future,” Hogan said. “That means pursuing bold, innovative ideas and being committed to leaving no skilled workers behind.”

Maryland partnered with Opportunity@Work, a D.C.-based nonprofit, to develop the initiative. The company calls those who are “skilled through alternative routes” STARS.

Opportunity@Work will work with the Department of Budget and Management to identify STARS in the IT, administrative and customer service sectors.

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Hogan said he believes those STARS are who will help ease labor shortages brought on by the pandemic.

“One of the many costs of the COVID 19 pandemic was the impact on our workforce, where we are still seeing significant shortages across so many industry sectors, Hogan said. And STARS represent an untapped pool for employers and a potential long-term solution to these shortages and to other labor challenges like the skills gap.”

The state today posted 300 new jobs that do not require a four-year degree, and the governor said more than half of the 38,000 jobs at the Department of Budget and Management could go to STARS.

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“There will now be scores of highly talented and experienced state workers being considered for positions and promotions that in the past required a four-year degree, said Maryland Secretary of Labor Tiffany Robinson. “This new career pathway is recognition that expertise, education, responsibility and commitment to excellence can and is developed through many diverse routes.”

CBS Baltimore Staff