Northern Essex’s Glenn Backs Filling Jobs Even Those Where No Degree is Needed

Northern Essex Community College President Lane A. Glenn. (WHAV News photograph.)

If college is the right path for you, Northern Essex Community College President Lane A. Glenn wants to see you. If not, he’s just as happy to have you take a job in a much-needed field that doesn’t require a degree.

Glenn’s thoughts back up Gov. Maura Healey’s newly signed executive order creating the “Lead by Example” Employer Talent Initiative. It requires state government to stop requiring college degrees when they aren’t actually necessary to do a particular job.

“There are many ways to demonstrate knowledge and skills beyond college degrees, including prior learning assessment, microcredentials, apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job experience. The state’s community colleges are ready to help workers and employers alike through the Healey administration’s bold new “Lead by Example” talent initiative,” said Glenn in a statement.

With the executive order, the administration will focus primarily on applicants’ skills, knowledge and abilities for the vast majority of state job postings. Employment postings will only be allowed to include degree conditions when “absolutely necessary.” Further, the administration will work with the Commonwealth’s business community to encourage the evaluation and elimination of unnecessary education requirements for open positions.

“As the state’s largest employer, we rely on a strong, diverse workforce to deliver crucial services and programs for Massachusetts residents, businesses and communities every day. But too many job applicants are being held back by unnecessary degree requirements,” said Healey. “We are leading by example here in the Healey-Driscoll Administration, and we encourage the business community to join us by adopting similar skills-based hiring practices.”

Glenn has advocated for such a policy for more than a decade. Northern Essex operates the local office of MassHire, which matches residents with jobs and/or training. Northern Essex is also adding more courses and programs, including a new certificate program in Lab Science and expects to add three more certificate programs in the coming months. Certificate programs allow students to earn job skills in a matter of weeks or months.

Northern Essex also offers more tailored programs to local employers who seek to train or upskill current workers through the Center for Corporate and Community Education. Additionally, the Center can help secure workforce training grants that often cover the entire cost for employers.

“If you can hire someone for aptitude, we can upskill them,” said CCCE Director Linda Schildkraut. “Jobs have changed since the pandemic started, and when there’s a disconnect between skills employers are looking to hire and the skills job seekers have, we can help bridge that gap.”

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