By Joan Ogeto
What Is The Real Motivation Behind Obtaining A Degree?
What counts most when it comes to acquiring a good job is a question that dates back to the beginning
of higher education. Is a higher degree enough to get your foot in the door? Will your experience or education help you stay employed, advance in your profession, and earn you a solid living for decades to come? These are questions that occupy most minds and create doubt as to whether or not a degree may be worthwhile in the long run.
Surprisingly, university degrees have been around since the late 12th century, but they were solely associated with the church until roughly 100 years ago. They became more widely available at the turn of the twentieth century, but barely 6% of individuals below the age of twenty one years attended university,
even in the early 1960s. These degrees were previously granted directly by the monarch or a bishop, rather than through any educational institution. This practice has largely vanished.
So what is the motivation behind obtaining a degree in any field of choice? The most common answer is money and stability which is a reasonable expectation. The reality is that most enlist in hopes that they will
put education to work in the future, as that is one aspect of labor market success.
A number of evaluations have been undertaken over the years to determine whether a worker’s academic subject of study is related to their job success; whether pursuing education has significant economic consequences. On the other hand, there is the question of whether or not dropping out of university education automatically equates to failure on the part of the person who made the decision, or if this is simply a fallacy.
The reality is that the nature of work and careers is rapidly evolving, and in the near future if not already, the correct talents and skills will be valued more than just academic credentials. Many have spent the first third of their lives obtaining the college degrees supposedly needed to find work for decades. These degrees have been regarded as stamps on professional passports that have allowed continuation to employment, but this is not all that is considered by hiring managers when considering the best candidate for hire.
What is argued now by most professional bodies is that the future of work will not be solely based on attaining a college degree but rather on a job skillset. This career approach will increase diversity among
the workforce and will give those without a college degree the opportunity to invest in themselves and their future.
All a diploma or degree demonstrates is that one has acquired a level of skill and depth of subject knowledge that should make it easier to land a good job and make more money over the course of their lives. This however does not appear to be the case. According to a survey by the International Labour
Organization (ILO), the more qualified a young person is, the more likely they are to be unemployed in some countries.
Graduates cannot rely solely on their degree to get work. This is especially true if the degree topic has nothing to do with the job vacancy. It is a common assumption that a degree is not necessary to generate money and that one can create a successful career without it. Some of the most well-known business and technology figures did not complete their education, opting instead to drop out and pursue vocational opportunities or start their own businesses.
Famous billionaires such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg to name a few
amassed their enormous riches and global success without ever having attended college. Majority of business owners lack a college degree. To illustrate this, the Harvard Business School conducted a
study where they found that experience rather than educational attainment was the most essential characteristic in an application, for roughly 37% of employers.
What is argued now by most professional bodies is that the future of work will not be solely based on attaining a college degree but rather on a job skillset. This career approach will increase diversity among the workforce and will give those without a college degree the opportunity to invest in themselves and their future.
It was discovered that in jobs that were more difficult to fill, the employers were more inclined to overlook
a candidate’s lack of degree if they had enough experience to compensate for the absence of the “proper” education. Furthermore, according to the Economic Policy Institute, 8.5 percent of young college graduates aged 21 to 24 are unemployed, and 16.5 percent are underemployed.
The majority of recruiting managers understand that a piece of paper isn’t worth much in the job. The divergence happens because most colleges are not linked to the industries that might hire their graduates.
It would appear that in this age of entrepreneurship, hard work, skill and opportunity outweigh academics.
The conventional way of thinking holds that earning a bachelor’s degree demonstrates to potential
employers that you have a basic comprehension of the subject matter and have built a set of transferable skills during the academic experience.
These abilities, which include time and project management skills, research skills, and writing and editing
abilities, can be applied to many aspects of life beyond university, and transcend the specific subject
matter of the degree. A degree in any area provides the holder with a bevy of valuable abilities that
employers value. Subsequently, some employers will hire candidates without degrees if they can demonstrate that they can execute the job well.
In fact, some major corporations such as Google, Apple, Netflix, Tesla, Hilton and Penguin Random House to name a few have recently revised their thoughts about requiring degrees. For instance, surprisingly, those without a four year degree make up roughly half of Apple’s workforce in the United States.
Furthermore, the global accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY) declared that academic qualifications would
no longer be required for new hires.
In a news statement, the corporation stated that, “Our analysis revealed no evidence to imply that earlier
achievement in higher education was connected with future success.” It is these developments, together
with rising tuition rates that have many young adults questioning whether university is truly worth the time, effort and money.
In the long run however, it is difficult to deny that higher education has a positive impact. The harsh reality
though is that many graduates are unprepared for the job market. Some will argue that earning a degree is almost always a wise decision that will position anyone for success in a variety of ways. Work experience will qualify one for a specific position however, without a higher education, there may be a lack of the skills necessary for advancement in the future.
More education almost always guarantees increase in job security and pay. Therefore, for higher learning institutions to equip their students with the information and confidence they need to succeed, career readiness training must be thorough and ongoing. This practice will not only assist students compete in the workforce, but also help them gain momentum and remain competitive in the market as well as establish solid ties with companies. Notably, while some businesses and companies have programs in place to orient new graduates, colleges and universities can play a role by integrating workforce development resources into their curriculum.
In the long run however,it is difficult to deny that higher education has a positive impact. The harsh reality though is that many graduates are unprepared for the job market.
This will ensure that students are prepared for the cultural transition that will occur after graduation, while also providing them useful experiences such as internships which have been shown to be extremely valuable to employers. This is not to imply that those without higher education are at a disadvantage, as has been demonstrated above. Both sides have their advantages and disadvantages, therefore success is almost always up to the individual’s efforts, interest and hard work. However, the importance of a college degree cannot be overstated because it leads to financial benefits.
Furthermore, having a college education makes it easier to shift careers. In short, there is much about the
current higher education model that needs to be re- evaluated. Tomorrow belongs to the businesses
and individuals who approach education in tandem with their employment, creating continuous learning cycles. Success in the future will be determined by potential and the ability to learn, apply, and adapt
rather than by a degree.