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South Valley Riverton Journal

Degrees vs experience: city looks at its employment position requirements

Dec 02, 2022 03:13PM ● By Travis Barton

By Travis Barton | [email protected]om

Less than 14% of Riverton City’s full-time jobs require a college degree. That’s what city officials found after compiling a report for the city council in October.

Kevin Hicks, the city’s administrative services director, said the idea came after a house bill in 2021 was passed that wanted to make sure “we’re only requiring degrees and not allowing experience in lieu of the degree if it’s one that is dictated by the actual role and responsibilities.”

The combination of the bill and recent discussion about the federal decision to forgive student loans led Mayor Trent Staggs to feel it would be useful information.

Of the total full-time positions citywide, only 22 require a degree, or 13.63%. Outside of those 22 degrees, Hicks said there might be a preference for a degree, but it’s not a requirement.

Among the 22 positions, a few include city attorney, city prosecutor, city engineer, city manager, city planner, city treasurer, communications director and public works director

“The public needs to be made aware and even our residents that we have several positions that don’t even require a college degree,” Staggs said during the Oct. 18 council work meeting.

City Manager David Brickey explained that of those 22 positions, at least 13 or 14 are state statutes they cannot change.

“The other seven we could add language that says ‘work experience or equivalent,’” he told the council before adding, “frankly, there are some very qualified people that after you work in a particular area for six to 10 years in government, you’re smarter than the kid that’s coming out of college.”

Hicks clarified on the financial side that when the city is scored on its fraud assessment, they receive points for having accountants with accounting degrees. He said work experience could be in lieu of that.

But “if we started reducing the need for accounting degrees, we could have problems in that fraud assessment,” Hicks said.

The council and staff discussed the possibility of changing certain language in the job descriptions, but no official decision was made during the meeting.