Is a degree worth it?

updates + insights » Is a degree worth it?

Global mega trends that are leading the conversation around the future of work are generating discussion about whether a formal qualification will be worth the time, effort or money.

Looking back, there was a clear financial benefit of a tertiary qualification – the higher an individual’s education level, the higher their level of earning. With this diminishing over time and an increasing demand to fill critical skill gaps in the workplace, employers are reducing their focus on the requirement for a qualification and school leavers are questioning whether the benefit is there.

For employers, a tertiary qualification was traditionally viewed as a predictor of intellect. However, the requirement for a strong IQ has quickly moved on to a discussion around an individual’s emotional intelligence (EQ) and more recently, their adaptability quotient (ability to adapt to and thrive in an environment of change). AQ is now evolving into cultural adaptability, with employers valuing candidates that demonstrate a willingness and ability to adapt their manner of communicating, motivating, and managing, across countries and cultures.

Furthermore, advances in AI or machine learning suggest that employees who can perform those tasks that machines cannot will become more desirable in the future. These capabilities or soft skills are typically not taught or nurtured in a university setting.

One suggested pathway for the future of education is the introduction of micro degrees or nanodegrees – specific training in short bursts as an alternative to traditional three- or four-year degrees. The theory being that over a lifetime, we’ll acquire multiple micro degrees rather than one qualification, which means we can adapt, grow and learn throughout our career.   

With the value of a degree clearly linked to a person’s employability, it will become increasingly relevant to understand what employers are looking for in their future employees. Companies can help change the narrative around education and qualifications by becoming more open minded about what capabilities they will value in their organisation, to tackle future challenges.

Plus, let’s not forget the generational debate and the fact that we’re increasingly being told that Gen Z and Millennials live in a digitally accessible world and will lack the commitment and motivation to spend three plus years studying before entering the workforce and making real change. We’re also seeing increased competition for school leavers with the likes of apprenticeships becoming more attractive (and lucrative) as a career pathway.

The decision to pursue a university degree can be challenging. At the same time, not having a degree is becoming less restricting. Think Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson.

Going forward, what skills and competencies does your organisation need to build a robust and resilient workforce of the future?

Decipher Group have their finger on the pulse of changing trends in the recruitment and people space. If you are looking for direction and assistance on unearthing and retaining the right talent for your business, get in touch with us.    

The Decipher Team      

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