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Education vs Experience

A degree qualification was once a major deciding factor in who got the job, but as more and more people have gained degrees, especially over recent years, employers have become less impressed on the whole, and focused more on experience.

In many industries there is still an acute and permanent skills shortage, so employers are having to be much more open to considering those with experience in relevant skills and work environments rather than sticking to previously held beliefs that only those who are ‘qualified’ are right for the job.

What advantages have qualifications traditionally given a candidate?  A course of education will bring a greater depth of understanding than experience can provide in many industries so experience may teach you that ‘doing it that way does not work’, but education gives you the theoretical knowledge and analytical skill to show why it does not work. This of course has been highly valued by employers and quite rightly so.

However, as the skills shortage tightens even further, with statistics showing some positions are now ‘unfillable’ particularly in engineering and in traditional manufacturing skills, should employers be looking for a different and more ‘life-based experience’ set of criteria in their selection process.

We have recently encouraged employers with some good success to modify and enhance their ‘Desired Qualifications’ section to include Relevant Experience and Required Skills to widen the candidate criteria and therefore number of applicants. This wider spectrum of applicants can then be ‘tested’ with more on the job sections to the interview process, asking candidates in for half a day/a day so colleagues can see not only how they would fit in but how their acquired skills and experience match the position being filled. This more hands-on and thorough approach may well have to be the way forward as the qualified skills pool shrinks. 

So what do you think? Is work experience now more important than qualifications?      

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