Why are skills more valuable in the UK Job Market than Degrees today?

Nowadays, the job market is evolving at an incredible rate. It no longer considers the conventional qualifications as a factor for determining your worth. In fact, traditional education is now being seen as something reaching obsolescence. Employers are favouring the number of skills a candidate has and has gathered as something that determines their competence.

Hence, it’s even more important today to do away with the old and to embrace the new if you want to succeed in any market, especially the ones that are as competitive as the UK job market.

What Studies Show

A study conducted in 2013 of more than a thousand businesses by the Edge Foundation and City & Guilds (two foundations in the UK that support vocational training and acquiring skills) yielded startling results for candidates.

78% of businesses agreed that they preferred practical training and skills as an alternative to A Level degrees. 83% said that young people needed to get better advice on the career options open to them and that they shouldn’t rely on the traditional understanding that is dished out to them at colleges and universities. 84% of businesses agreed that pupils needed a lot more robust work experience in order to survive in the job market and that this work experience must be acquired while they are still at school. This is important because, as time pass, younger candidates with more experience are being preferred.

Opinions from CEOs and Executives

The CEO of City & Guilds, one of the companies that conducted the survey, opined that the current system that is serving the young generation is failing them and not preparing them for the real world. He also opined that society placed too much importance on academia and not as much on practical learning and experience.

Another CEO, Ginni Rometty, from one of the most prestigious companies in the world, IBM, said that what mattered is not a college degree but the essential skills needed to get the job done and the two are rarely the same.

Jeff Weiner, who is the CEO of LinkedIn agrees with the statement and says that he’s been pushing for the same thing at his company. Another CEO, David Blake, of the learning platform, Degreed, said that it didn’t matter how you acquired your skills, what matters is just that you did! This further highlights the necessity of acquiring skills in any way that you can, irrespective of whether it’s an online course or practical experience.

A Different Perspective

According to some, however, it’s not exactly a black and white issue. CEO of Skillful, Beth Cobert, says that the “skills versus credentials” debate isn’t exactly fair; in fact, it is more about changing mindsets. He said that a lot of industries and academic centres are locked in their old ways. Therefore, they aren’t producing people who are ready to tackle the new problems that the world is facing. He said that there is a need to come up with a new system to measure how good someone is at a particular skill, instead of just scrapping academics altogether.