What’s More Relevant- Skills or a College Degree

Attend school regularly and focus on your studies, if you want to succeed in life, has been a routine dictum of the parents across the globe. It was the minimum basic prerequisite for a white collared job or successfully running self-business as well. However, there has been a paradigm shift in this conventional approach over the last two decades. People are now questioning the merit of this age-old wisdom. Often raised queries to include-

Do the best students always succeed in real life?

Does a degree necessarily make you a better employee or entrepreneur?

Does success at college or university guarantee a great entrance into the workforce after graduation?

The common reasons given for acquiring a college degree is that a college degree gives you validation.

A Degree Is Certainly a Necessity but Is Not Enough

In a continuously evolving and upgrading market, higher education does not necessarily mean better jobs or higher employment. College degree sure builds competency but is no longer a guarantee of finding a job.

Recruiters and employers are looking at more things than mere degrees. For Employers, it is more important, whether a candidate possesses the right skills in addition to having the relevant experience. There is a definite shift away from mere delivery of knowledge towards the development of knowledge and skills. For northward-looking career growth that every person aspires for, degree or experience alone is not sufficient enough. What employers are seeking are soft skills, networking, communication, and negotiation skills including time management.

If you are considering pursuing higher education, you must also make the most of your degree by applying for internships and getting the job know-how with professional skills including writing, leadership, problem-solving, etc. Take it like this, while degrees take you to places, skills help you stay there and take you forward.

Does it mean that people who have not attended university, have equal chances of being considered for a job due to the potential skills and experience that they may have gained in the time that others have spent studying for a degree?

The significance placed on lifelong learning and the ability to adapt emerges from an understanding of the current and future employment. The market is such that the workers increasingly need to be able to adapt to new roles.

Evolution of the Job Market

Since there are no more single or fixed career paths as was the norm about two-three decades back, all graduates are expected to develop skills that would appropriately help them in preparing for future challenges in their career. Skills like the deep understanding of the local industry and specific training programs are important and helpful.

Nowadays, more than half of the skilled force hired by a company are recruited for their skill sets and experience rather than over-reliance on academics. Very important value add-ons include- internships, experience during college, college major and volunteer experience. Today, employers are smart and are in search of such additional qualities like a variety of talents, skills and personality traits, communication skills, critical thinking, problem solving and social skills.

The roadmap to a successful career is to gain enough experience and skills along with a college degree. Potential of every candidate can be enhanced by technological supplements. By combining the powers of computers, software, and the internet, the roadmap to success can be traced effectively.

Skill Learning & Development

Importance of learning new skills cannot be ignored anymore. As per the demands of a new economy, you need to pick up practical skills along with acquiring the college degree. Recruiters and employers are more interested in candidates who are self-taught and have the inclination to learn new things while spending hours googling things on the internet.  This is a sure shot way to make your CV interesting. Many recruiters are not merely looking at degrees which are just pieces of paper but want to hire people who can actually turn around the business scene itself with their talent.

Ginni Rometty, the CEO of IBM, says, “What matters most is relevant skills.” 

Discrete Job Markets, Discrete Requirements

Candidates with relevant skills are quite smart and may overtake their colleagues with a bonafide computer science degree. Furthermore, Digital Marketing is another all-new independent domain with a plethora of job opportunities, with online lessons available at websites like Udemy, Lynda. Students can excel in these creative professions without ever going for a business diploma.

However, there are certain streams, that require a degree for making the perfect pitch for a successful career. For a career in academics, Research & Development or high flying managers of multinationals, you need to have academic training along with on-the-job training as well as many skills that would enhance your CV. Since here, the recruiters will be paying more attention to the extras and not necessarily upon the earned degrees.

If you are hiring an accountant or a nurse, on-job know-how is as important as the academic training. Smart employers seek candidates with relevant certifications and experience of learning.

Academic Degree Matters – Mostly, But Can You Do Without Skills – No!

It is no more important to ascertain from where you picked up your skills as far as you have it. Although it will still take decades to shift to the new thought process, employers are focusing on skill building rather than mere traditional degrees. Recruiters across the spectrum are keen on hiring people who have the relevant abilities and experience. Employers are looking for people on their team who know their job.  Although it is easily assumed that college graduates learned their craft in school, many times, it is not the case.

Here, the gist is to focus on supplemental education, rather than looking for a candidates’ formal qualification. This is truer in an industry that is continuously evolving.

Contributor Bio – This blog post is contributed by Sharda University. Sharda University is one of the largest universities in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) offering 216 varied programmes

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By SatishReddy Venkannagari

Satish Reddy V is a Cyber Security Engineer at a reputed MNC and blogs at Freshers360. I am passionate about Blogging, Digital Marketing, and Cyber Security.

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