Forgive the graphic but the key words here are ‘Studies level required: Bachelor Degree‘. This is from a Job advert for Crew (Cashiers). In my view possibly one of the most misguided things to do when an organisation is trying to attract top quality skilled employees.
THIS is why I think that it is misguided for an organisation to do this. Firstly there are many skilled people looking for work who have been in full-time education up to the age of 18, gaining qualifications along the way including A-levels and other equivalent Level 3 qualifications. These people may have decided not to attend university for many reasons but because of this they are put in a position where they are not even allowed to apply for certain job roles. This creates a problem for the economy and the rate of unemployment in this country. Secondly, organisations are missing out on a huge talent pool of skilled people just because they do not have a degree.
For me, a degree does not prove that you have skills for the work place or even the technical ability to do a job. I know that may sound strange coming from a teacher who has a degree but let me explain why. I felt that I had had a good educational start to life by the time I had completed my Level 3 qualifications. The only reason I went into Higher Education and did a Business degree was to become a teacher. Why? It was the only way to get on the main pay scale! I learnt almost nothing additional from doing my degree. I then did my PGCE, which was important, as I needed to be informed about teaching and to be eased into the teaching profession. For me, the PGCE is almost like on the job training, learning and developing the invaluable skills I would need to become a teacher. I then became a teacher of Business. While doing my PGCE, and then being a teacher, I started to learn about how to do the job and further developed the skills I had learnt by the end of further education. I even understood business better as I was in one. I can genuinely say that my degree was a total waste of my time as I had forgotten everything they told me. Regarding my knowledge for teaching, I knew in the early days that as long as I was a week or so ahead of the learners in my Business knowledge and planning I would be fine. This proved to be the case. I now have more Business subject knowledge through actually teaching the subject than through my degree.
Why therefore would you do a degree? There are some very good reasons, firstly because you have such a love of a subject that you want to pursue it further. Secondly, because you want to have that experience and maybe gain some life skills? Thirdly, to get the job that asks for you to be educated to degree level. Other than that I am struggling for reasons!
To go back to what I said previously; ‘While doing my PGCE, and then being a teacher, I started to learn about how to do the job and developed the skills I had learnt by the end of further education‘. For me, this is why having a degree should not be a prerequisite for any job. A degree does not teach you those skills you actually need. That should start to be developed through compulsory and further education. It is then polished during your early years in the workplace. I cannot honestly think of any job, that requires a degree, where you do not learn your trade mainly on the job. Even a doctor spends many years doing degrees, doctorates etc to prepare them but actually they learn all about the job, on the job! This technical skill development includes observing procedures, having a go themselves and also taking advice from others that are more experienced. Surely the knowledge aspect could come as part of that ‘on the job’ process and does not need to be tested through exams in a degree? Although, as we know, traditional thinking dictates this.
More and more people over time are not going to have degrees. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, because the government focus is to have more people in apprenticeships. This creates a problem in itself. If more young people take on an apprenticeship then they will not be able to get any other job requiring a degree. This next comment may be hard to take for some teachers but I am very sure that if you choose to do a rigorous apprenticeship you MAY be a more skilled teacher than those that become a teacher straight from completing a degree. I have actually seen this recently in schools where people teaching without degrees do a better job than the ones with a degree. Why? Because the person without the degree has had more time to develop the skills needed through the workplace than the degree graduate. This is not a blanket statement by the way. The second reason I eluded to is that more and more people are turning their backs on university because of high fees and other personal economic reasons.
THIS is why I think that organisations are being short sighted when they state on a job advert ‘Studies level required: Bachelor Degree‘. Employers need to be open to offering other non-degree educated people roles within the organisation. This would mean that a prospective employer may attract an even more rounded and skilled person to apply which will then be better for the organisation.
I know that this blog will not hold much favor with educational traditionalists but if you would like to make any comments I would welcome the discussion.