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The Associated Press on Thursday reported the Trump administration and a workforce committee led by Ivanka Trump, a senior adviser to the president, plan to release an executive order that would prioritize skills over college degrees in hiring by the federal government, which employs 2.1 million people.

Created by the administration in 2018, the 27-member American Workforce Policy Advisory Board includes leaders from higher education, large corporations, industry associations and policy makers. It was tasked with giving advice and recommendations "on ways to encourage the private sector and educational institutions to combat the skills crisis by investing in and increasing demand-driven education, training and re-training, including training through apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities."

Ivanka Trump told the AP that the forthcoming change in federal hiring would lead to a more inclusive and talented federal workforce. She encouraged the private sector to follow suit, the wire service reported.

“We are modernizing federal hiring to find candidates with the relevant competencies and knowledge, rather than simply recruiting based on degree requirements,” she told the Associated Press in a statement. “We encourage employers everywhere to take a look at their hiring practices and think critically about how initiatives like these can help diversify and strengthen their workforce.”

In late February, before the pandemic's toll in this country began in earnest, the Ivanka Trump-led committee had been preparing a national advertising promotion for postsecondary education and training alternatives to the four-year college degree.

Several recent surveys have identified substantial uncertainty among college students about being able to continue pursuing degrees, or about the value of a traditional college degree among U.S. adults who are struggling amid the pandemic and economic downturn, the brunt of which has been experienced by Black, Latino and lower-income Americans. Yet experts and research generally hold that a four-year degree remains the most reliable ticket to the middle class, perhaps most during economic turmoil, although only assuming students graduate and don't rack up too much debt.

For example, recent data from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System show just 20 percent of workers with a high school credential or less were working entirely from home in April -- 67 percent were not working remotely at all. In contrast, 63 percent of college degree holders performed all work remotely.