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Degree Vs Real life work experience

Whether a degree is better than life experience in a role depends on the specific job, industry, and the nature of the role itself. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as different situations may require different qualifications. However, I find it quite discriminate for the over 45’s

as we did not have the opportunity to go to university it was a very specific educational level. But with 30+ years within an industry surely, we should look at that too. My own belief having worked in education with apprenticeships this a path that should now be a choice equal to degrees when discussing options from year 11.

Job Requirements: Some professions have strict educational requirements, and you cannot even apply for the job without a specific degree. For example, becoming a medical doctor or a lawyer typically requires a specific degree (MD or JD). In such cases, a degree is a non-negotiable requirement. This is understandable.

But let us look at a job role I applied for some years ago.

My background, 35 years within childcare, as a qualified NNEB nanny, mother who employed a nanny, and ran my own childcare agency for over 25 years. I now run a training for nannies which is for Ofsted registration. I applied to OFSTED to become a nanny inspector meant to check they had the right credentials and training. Even with a qualification equivalent to an HND I was rejected as I did not have a full degree? You really thought they would have considered a person with so much background and experience, a degree cannot give you that. But no.. ☹

So, these are my thoughts.

Experience-Based Roles: In many fields, especially those that are practical and skills-based, such as the arts, crafts, trades, or some areas of IT, experience and expertise gained through hands-on work can be more valuable than a degree. Employers may prioritise practical skills, portfolios, or certifications over formal education.

Hybrid Roles: Many roles benefit f

rom a combination of education and experience. For instance, a management position may require a degree in business administration, but experience in a related role can be equally important.

Changing times: Some industries are rapidly evolving, and traditional educational programs may not always keep up with the latest developments. In these cases, continuous learning and hands-on experience can be more valuable.

Networking: In some industries, who you know can be as important as what you know. Networking and building relationships with professionals in your field can open doors and provide opportunities that education alone may not.

Adaptability: The ability to adapt and learn on the job is a valuable skill. Some employers may prioritize candidates who demonstrate a capacity for continuous learning and growth, regardless of their formal education.

Company Culture and Preferences: Different companies may have different preferences. Some organisations may value degrees more highly, while others may prioritize relevant experience and skills.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations: Certain roles may have legal or regulatory requirements that necessitate a specific degree or certification.

Regarding nannies, in the UK you can apply to become a nanny without any training at all. I am surprised that this has never changed. If you read my previous blog on registration of nannies this is why. Simple solution but I will be surprised if it ever happens it’s been going on for over 20 years as I have been at government consultations to try to no avail as they see it as a private arrangement.

Ultimately, the value of a degree versus life experience in a role can vary greatly. Let us give hope and inspiration to our young people who do not want to do a degree and celebrate the success of apprenticeships as well.

It would be very interesting to hear other people’s views.


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