Saturday, 10 January 2009

Is A Degree Worth Anything In A Recession?

The simple fact is that possessing an undergraduate degree is less of a differentiator than it was in the past because more people have them. So you might think that a swimming certificate might be of more value to you when you are thrown into the employment deep end.

The UK government are throwing a lifebelt of sorts with their Internship idea, although like a real life belt this can only be a temporary life saver.

Recession doesn't mean that all jobs will evaporate, what it means is that employers will become more selective, and that means as always that the better candidate will be selected. Now, depending on the job that doesn't necessarily mean the best grade, but when large corporates are processing thousands of potential candidates grades are an obvious 'coarse screen'.

Don't be gullible and think that possessing a degree provides any right to employment. It is an indication of a general undergraduate level of education. Whilst this might lead to a degree (sic) of independent learning capability, critical, analytical and synthesising skills, these are only a small part of the 'know how ' that is needed to operate convincingly in a fierce commercial environment. Despite 'work experience' having a degree will not provide you with the skills that only experience can bring.

The problem with internships is that they suggest that somebody can 'continue their learning' whilst on the job. Do not for one minute think that this means a continuation of the benign and supportive learning university environment. More so in a recession the people expected to guide you will be full on concerned with keeping their jobs and not baby sitting a new graduate.

So in an interview be clear about what you can 'do' for the organisation and don't spew out platitudes such as 'good team working', 'enthusiasm', 'leadership', 'problem solving ability', 'presentation skills'. Just like a degree these are now just the table stakes for being allowed to play the employment game. What difference can you specifically make to outputs and key performance indicators of the company or department? Do you have any contacts that your prospective employer can use? Do you have research or information they can use? Can you bring customers or suppliers to your employer? Can you facilitate access to specialist know how?

Any business studies graduates out there need to wake up! Do you seriously think that your employers haven't heard about SWOT, PEST, Five Forces, Missions, Values, Slippage, Belbin, Myers Briggs, Forming Storming Norming and Performing, Suitability Feasibility and Acceptability, and the myriad of other managerial concepts covered in standard business tomes.

Its not what you know but who you know. These might just be the difference between sink or swim.

Read More:
advantages and disadvantages of a university degree
rush for university places
Degrees maintain job market value June 2009

Choosing a University Resource:
Choosing A British University

1 comment:

  1. You've out done yourself again, RR. Bravo! I've met many PhD's who pumped gas for a living. The degrees they attained were no more than toilet paper and why was that? They hid behind their degrees instead of getting out into the community and providing what skills they had learned so that other's were able to see their light shine in full regalia. Life is about adaptation and going above the rim for others in their time of need, so to speak.

    Unapproachable boneheads who believe they're too above the rest will find themselves alone in their attempts at making their own way. When I see that happen, I smile to myself and think, "Good luck, P.a.l. <---> [proficient ass licker]

    Whether one is working or playing, life is involved and when there is life involvements, there is a need to bond. Phoney balonies need not apply.

    ^5, big guy! Congrats on writing such an insightful post...