Last week, thousands of students up and down the country received their A-level grades, with many now looking towards starting university in the autumn. However, results day has brought up much debate on the value of a degree versus other routes into employment. Skills minister Matthew Hancock, for instance, has said that apprenticeships are fast becoming the norm for young people who are looking for an alternative route to university. And who can blame them when tuition fees are now around £9,000 a year?
There’s real value in getting hands on experience learning on the job, and it’s positive to see that big names – such as PwC for example – are recognising the importance of apprenticeships. However, there still seems to be a stigma associated with them, with some employers viewing them as ‘second class’ to a degree, and it’s vital that perceptions change.
In order to hire the best person for the role, employers have to understand the value of their emerging talent. The education system has changed profoundly over the years, and there’s a real danger in introducing biases due to a lack of understanding. Just because a business leader has a degree from a top university, for instance, it doesn’t mean that all employees have to have the same. It isn’t the only option anymore, and organisations need to look beyond degree grades.
In fact, it may be that an individual who undertook an apprenticeship rather than going to university is actually better suited to a role as they have a higher level of employability skills. And when it comes to recruiting, employers need to consider all aspects of a candidate, such as their experience, skills and personal traits as well as educational qualifications, and be able to effectively assess for them using competency based interview questions.
If a business fails to really get to grips with understanding its emerging talent, there’s a real danger that it’ll be missing out on the perfect person. To safeguard a company for the future, there needs to a greater focus on hiring the right talent, which involves looking beyond university qualifications, thinking outside the box, and taking chances on people who may not have previously been considered.
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