Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Experience over Qualifications?

This week I am addressing a hot topic which over the last year I have found myself in many long conversations talking about and discussing this being what is more important to have in order to get a job experience or qualifications?

With the rise in number of people attending university and completing Degrees it seems that some of the shine have been taken off them especially now that you can get a degree in any thing from Surfing to David Beckham. No longer is university just for the financial and social elite.

Getting a job and doing well at a job interview is all about standing out from the crowd and being better than the other candidates so now with degrees being common place it seems a degree alone will not cut it in the workplace. Many job adverts are now asking for a minimum of three years work experience in the desired field before they will consider you.

Now you say how can I get the experience when I am at university? This is a true point so this is why you need to know before you go to university what career you want to work in and what is the best path to get you there. Many university students just go to university as they don’t know what else to do but if you can go in knowing what you want to do it is a big advantage.

Another thing to remember is that after you have finished your degree you may not be able to walk straight in to a high paying graduate job. You may have to take a lower salary than you were expecting in order to build up experience. It is only with both experience and a degree that you will eventually get those higher paid management level jobs.

Many of my friends who are now in highly skilled professions didn’t go to university they forged their own careers going straight from school or college to gain hands on experience and work their way up the ranks so they got a three year head start on all us university students.

Employers are now more interested in your ability to do the job not what you have learnt in a classroom. I went to university and am proud of my university education but I don’t think there is a one size fits all policy when it comes to life after school or college. You need to research the industry you want to get in to and find the best route for you to get where you need to go regardless of whether that is on the job experience or class room learning.

Although people may laugh at McDonalds for now offering qualifications and study programmes for young people I think we need more big organisations like this giving vocational courses as I feel it will improve the speed in which school leavers find work in their chosen field and leave less people unemployed. For many years people have looked down at vocational courses but I think courses which mix learning and work place experience are the way to go and that universities could learn a lot from this approach instead of holding on to their old and tested methods.

We want to know what you think is more important experience or qualifications? You can share your views by joining in our discussion topic of the week by going to:

Adam Sibley
Founder of the Talented Young People organisation
"Envisage it, Believe it, Achieve it!"

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