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Noem Lowers Standards for Getting a State Job

Kristi Noem got government jobs without a college degree; so should you!

So says Governor Kristi Noem’s latest executive order, which directs Bureau of Human Resources Commissioner Darin Seeley to review all current and future Executive Branch job listings that require a college degree to determine whether they really require a degree.

Gov. Kristi Noem displays Executive Order 2023-05, 2023.04.24. Photo from Governor's Office.
Gov. Kristi Noem displays Executive Order 2023-05, 2023.04.24. Photo from Governor’s Office.

Governor Noem brands this order as an expansion of job opportunities. Alternatively, we may read this order as a lowering of professional standards and an admission that the state isn’t providing enough affordable educational opportunities or retaining and recruiting enough educated professionals to do the work South Dakota needs done.


  1. Richard Schriever 2023-04-25

    MAGATs prefer amateurism to professionalism.

  2. Bonnie B Fairbank 2023-04-25

    Mr. Schriever succinctly summarizes this article; her executive order should come as no surprise, considering the questionable validity of Kristi Lynn’s Bachelor in PoliSci from SDSU. The WaPo wrote la Noem racked up intern credits from her term in the House of Representatives and did her coursework on flights to and from SD to DC. IIRC, she accomplished this feat in a year, and was awarded her degree in 2012. Her impeccable “truthiness” and enormous work ethic make claims to her degree unassailable.

  3. Donald Pay 2023-04-25

    Well, it would be a good thing to look over job descriptions to see what level of education is absolutely necessary, and whether other training or experience would suffice or if positions can be adjusted. Broadening the applicant pool, as long as it doesn’t decrease the standards of your work force, is a good idea. The problem is, as in most everything Noem “orders,” it’s couched in grandiloquent stupidity that can’t hide the purpose: dumbing down of job descriptions so some political hacks can sneak into a position without the proper background.

    That fourth “Whereas” is a tip off that this isn’t a serious review of positions’ prerequisites. She wants this done as jobs come open. Gimme a frickin’ break. You don’t do something like that in an instant. It has to be thought out. So, it makes me conclude she’s already decided the outcome which is this: this is a tyrant seeking stupid oafs as buttlikcking apparatchiks in government positions.

    Look, why do you need to have an executive order in the first place? It’s showmanship without a purpose. Just ask your Department heads and human resources department to see if job descriptions can be adjusted to allow a broader range of applicants. This is something private employers do from time to time.

  4. Ryan 2023-04-25

    what’s with these friggin idiots signing documents with markers instead of pens like a regular person?

  5. jkl 2023-04-25

    Markers are the adult version of crayons.

  6. Loren 2023-04-25

    What? Does Kristi have relatives that need a job, but no degree? Didn’t her daughter get a job with the gubner before she graduated? Besides, you can always get a “participation certificate” like Kristi, using your work experience AFTER you get hired. Granted, not all jobs require a degree, but why is it I am skeptical of Kristi’s move?

  7. John 2023-04-25

    Criticism of Noem, her higher ed experience, and her administration state colleges is well founded.
    Yet, those criticisms can under-emphasize the role decades of college administrators and regents played in college administration bloat, soaring costs, and the reduced economic and social impacts of a college degree. College administrators helped degrade the experience and value of college.
    Ginni Rommety, former CEO of IBM recognized that skills and attitude are more valuable than a college degree. 43% of the positions at IBM do not require a degree.
    Folks in tech and the trades are easily capable of earning 6-figure middle class lifestyles without a college degree.

  8. Retired 2023-04-25

    As a former State employee I have seen this cycle before. Unable to attract employees via a competitive salary & benefits package you lower the entry point to attract less qualified applicants. It works for awhile until the senior highly qualified employees start to leave because of the benefit package remains unimproved.
    Eventually what remains is a staff needing senior leadership and work being contracted out due to the compromised skill set of the remaining employees.

  9. Fed Up 2023-04-25

    Another media stunt. The State already reviews every job to determine needed qualification and allows experience. Not all State jobs require a degree. Hopefully they still require degrees where needed. Nurses caring for people, engineers building bridges and roads, etc. I don’t want to drive on a bridge that a high school grad with Taco Johns experience built.

  10. Mark Anderson 2023-04-25

    Come on John, SDSU finally won the national championship in football. College is worth it.

  11. Mark Anderson 2023-04-25

    Retired, you’ve got it down. It’s also happening to colleges all over the country. Hire an adjunct only. You have to keep up the salaries of the leaders.
    I believe that very few jobs NEED a college degree. However, just putting in the effort to get a college degree shows something to an employer.

  12. Arlo Blundt 2023-04-25

    You’re right Mark. If an applicant has a degree an employer can predict that the person has a certain amount of determination to see a long, difficult and often frustrating process through to a conclusion. They are goal oriented, willing to sacrifice, and have learned that success comes with dedication. All these attributes apply to state employment.

  13. Tim 2023-04-25

    Hummm, it takes a fair amount of intelligence to do what I do without getting electrocuted, maybe I can get a six figure state job.

  14. M 2023-04-25

    Hmmm lowering the standards should equate to lowering the salary.

    Loren right on, either she has some uneducated relatives who need jobs or out of state donors looking to move here and get a government job plus bennies.

    What’s with Republicans and their scorn or jealousy for education?

    And my oh my hasn’t our Kristi become so much younger looking as governor of our fine state?

  15. LaurenSD1 2023-04-25

    “… hasn’t our Kristi become so much younger looking as governor of our fine state?”
    I’m not so sure (being a female observer) that “younger” fits. I have endlessly searched for words after observing her outtakes from the NRA convention. My immediate take was Miz Noem suddenly had a rearranged face plus new hair extensions … landing somewhere between Ivana, Kimberly, Palin, and a chipmunk.
    Mebbe’ she’s trying to get into Vanky’s influential Botoxed To The Bejesus Club for a good word to Daddy Chaos.
    She would be a great fit for tRUmp.
    After all, look at how Palin bolstered McCain.

  16. Paul Young 2023-04-25

    This continued dumbing down of South Dakota is ridiculous. Whatever happened to hiring the best and brightest! Why does South Dakota continue to market itself as a third world country? Come to South Dakota big business! You don’t have to pay people very much because people just love living here in South Dakota and they will put up with all kinds of abuse just to live here. Big businesses, you don’t have to pay higher salaries compared to other states because we are a right to work state and you can come here and abuse our workforce! You don’t have to worry about those pesky unions looking out for workers. And if you can’t get enough workers with job qualifications, you can just remove those qualifications and voila, you increase the potential workforce numbers. How about aspiring to greatness rather than just getting by South Dakota! All workers are essential to the survival and success of a business. Some positions just require more educational expertise than others. That increased knowledge does not make them more important than anyone else, it just means that a specific position requires more knowledge and education to perform. As I said, there are no non-essential job positions in a business. The anti-education stance by many in the positions of power is without merit. They have the mistaken belief that if you have an advanced degree you must think that you are better than someone who doesn’t. As they say in the theatre, “there are no small parts, just small actors!” There are no non-essential employees! Everyone is a valued employee! Some positions just require a higher level of knowledge and education to perform. I feel that there are some officials whose imposter syndrome is showing.

  17. Perpetual Media Revenue Shares of St. Louis 2023-04-27

    First time commenting to point out that this approach is now being implemented as a “best practice” in states nationwide by Governors across the political spectrum, including Alaska, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Utah. Both the Trump and Biden Administrations have expressed interest as well (see CAP article at end of comment).
    — from NJ Gov. Murphy and UT Gov. Cox: “Governors are implementing a variety of workforce development initiatives to expand pathways to opportunity and build a stronger, fairer economy. In addition to training and apprenticeship programs, the issue of degree requirements is a promising opportunity for action. In New Jersey and Utah, we have implemented policies to lower barriers to employment by prioritizing practical experience and skills training over degree requirements for state jobs. In New Jersey, we have started a review process for every job that previously required a four-year degree, so we can determine potential employment opportunities for the hundreds of applicants who are rejected each year due to this barrier. In Utah, we determined that 98% of jobs in the state executive branch – or 1,058 – do not require a degree. Instead, the state’s hiring managers and committees consider comparable experience as equal to educational qualifications in the evaluation and recruiting process. It’s a move that will strengthen state government and serve as a model to employers in the private sector.”

    From Council of State Governments:
    — Colorado has adopted particularly wide-reaching skills-based hiring initiatives through Executive Order 2022-15, signed by Gov. Jared Polis on April 14, 2022. The Executive Order instructs the Colorado state government to transition to skills-based hiring to meet the state’s workforce needs and “build a more diverse workforce by promoting the hiring of individuals from varied backgrounds and work experiences.”
    — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey launched the Alabama Skills-Based Job Description Generator and Employer Portal in 2022, which enables employers to create customized, skills-based job descriptions and advances the state’s efforts to develop a “skills-based, learner-centered, and employer-driven talent development system.”
    — The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has a webpage devoted to skills-based practices resources, which includes links to a skills-based hiring toolkit and a skills-based job posting generator.
    — Oklahoma Works assists employers with implementing skills-based hiring practices in order to “focus on the skills needed to perform job duties” and “expand the number of qualified applicants.”

    CO Executive Order:
    In part: “I direct all Agencies and Departments to ensure that all existing, required equivalent degree substitutions are fully incorporated into the selection process and advertised in a manner consistent with skills-based hiring best practices, not including those positions that by their specialized and professional nature otherwise mandate specific degree requirements, by the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2023-2024.”
    (Also informative on workers Skilled Through Alternate Routes and potential utility of skills-based hiring for governments)

    “The federal government is also seeking to address workforce challenges through skills-based hiring. Two executive orders—one from the Trump administration and one from the Biden administration—sought to build a more inclusive hiring process inside the federal government.22 The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued guidance during the Trump administration to “expand the use of valid, competency-based assessments and narrow the use of educational qualifications in the Federal hiring process.”23 OPM issued an extension of this order in December 2021, indicating that the Biden administration will continue efforts to implement a skills-based approach at the federal level.24”

    CAP’s top recommendation:
    1. Involve key stakeholders: A variety of sponsors and champions can originate a skills-based hiring policy agenda, as many parties have a stake in ensuring a well-staffed state and local government workforce. Regardless of who brings the concept to the table, the following stakeholders, at minimum, must be engaged early on to jointly determine a set of goals, target occupations, processes, and challenges:
    — Executive-level champions in the office of the chief elected official. This could be either the governor or the mayor, who would help to ensure leadership and agency-level buy-in.

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