Experience Vs. Education: Is One More Important Than the Other?

October 13, 2022
Experience Vs. Education: Is One More Important Than the Other?

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The debate about whether employers and companies prefer candidates with a degree or experience is a debate as old as time. It’s been happening ever since formal education became recognized in the world. Some believe that an employee must have a formal education and degree, while others believe that experience in the job market is enough, and this debate remains unresolved till this day. In this article, we will review the advantages of obtaining a degree and gaining the experience required for a job, and whether employers prefer a degree in exchange for experience or vice versa. We will also examine some of the recent developments in the business world.

Advantages of Obtaining Academic Degrees

A college degree is typically a prerequisite for many jobs, as it is an important first step in starting a career. Obtaining a degree also means that you will have basic knowledge and information of the field in which you want to specialize, which is the first building block that will lead you to develop key technical skills. Although obtaining a university degree does not guarantee employment, unemployment rates among people with a university degree are lower. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with a bachelor’s degree is 2%, versus 3.8% for people with high school diplomas only. This also applies to those with higher education, as they have lower unemployment and have higher incomes. Furthermore, obtaining a university degree will give you the opportunity to develop specialized and in-depth knowledge in your field. With some training, you will be able to start your first job, and keep up with the latest developments in your field as you advance in your career. Oftentimes, many university programs require you to complete a combination of courses and conduct research, which helps you learn about some of the other areas related to your field of study, so you can identify the skills you need to develop, and you will be able to choose the right career path for you. Many employers and people who encourage pursuing a degree consider completing at least a bachelor’s degree an investment with a guaranteed return, since according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly income of people with a bachelor’s degree is $1248, while people with a high school diploma only have an average weekly income is $746.

Advantages of Gaining Experience

Working to gain experience rather than pursuing a college degree allows you to start working immediately. In careers such as sales or craft work, experience is preferred, as you can begin working, acquire the skills needed to do the job, and learn how to address challenges and problems in real life. You will instantly learn all the details and intricacies of the profession, develop the necessary skills, and be able to advance in your career as you focus on training and strengthening relationships. Also, your job is what will expose you to daily life situations and real problems, and through it, you will gain problem-solving and management skills, and thus you will be recognized as a professional in your field, and this will increase your chances to land better jobs in the future. Also, working in a good environment will enable you to acquire some analytical skills and develop critical thinking, which will benefit you as you progress in your career. In many cases, employers prefer employees with experience who have successfully overcome challenges and difficulties in the workplace, and who are fully aware of the details of their profession. Most employers do not prefer to spend money on training employees who are still learning the ropes.

Do Employers Prefer to Hire Candidates with Academic Degrees or Practical Experience?

The answer to this question depends on the field. Experience is preferred when it comes to sales and craft work. On the other hand, many companies have strict policies that require a bachelor’s degree as a minimum to hire candidates. However, some companies are willing to overlook this requirement if the candidate has relevant experience.

If you decide to pursue a degree, consider getting some training in your field, or try to get a part-time job that will give you the experience you need, which in turn will increase your competitiveness in the job market and make you a strong candidate for jobs in the future.

If you’re planning to gain experience in your field and do not wish to pursue a degree, we suggest that you consider attending training courses and obtaining certificates that enhance your knowledge in your field, which will increase your security and stability, and your competitiveness in your field, as employers often look for candidates who have a combination of both experience and education.

Some companies will accept a certificate proving a candidate has the capability to perform a specific task instead of a higher degree. These certifications are often obtained in the fields of technology, cybersecurity, big data, and health safety. Recently, we’ve been seeing more initiatives that focus on training people to complete certain jobs and compete in the job market. For example, Egypt has recently launched the Egypt FWD initiative, which is an 18-month scholarship program that provides 200,000 Egyptian youth with integrated educational and practical experience to learn and acquire technical and digital skills to compete in the global and local job markets through the Udacity platform. We expect to see more of these initiatives and programs in the MENA region in the near future. 

There has also been a rise in self-employment and freelance work, which is a form of employment that allows a person to work on a project basis for an agreed-upon sum. The business owner can also provide feedback on the quality of work provided by the freelancer. This feedback can be seen by other business owners who may request similar services in the future. Many websites now cater to freelancers who wish to promote their services through a compelling portfolio, samples of work, and positive feedback from existing clients. However, competition is increasing day by day, therefore, the most effective way to ensure you are qualified for the job you want is to stay on top of the latest developments in the job market and on leading job search websites. Knowing the requirements of a particular job or career path will allow you to meet them, either by obtaining a degree or a certification, gaining the necessary work experience, or combining these requirements.

Written by: Noor Al Sheikh

Content Manager at englease.

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