The global accounting firm EY has just announced in this summer (2015) that they will remove academic qualifications from its entry criteria for new hires. They found no evidence to the correlation between higher education and the future career success in their staff members.
“Academic qualifications will still be taken into account and indeed remain an important consideration when assessing candidates as a whole, but will no longer act as a barrier to getting a foot in the door.
“Our own internal research of over 400 graduates found that screening students based on academic performance alone was too blunt an approach to recruitment. It found no evidence to conclude that previous success in higher education correlated with future success in subsequent professional qualifications undertaken.
“Instead, the research shows that there are positive correlations between certain strengths and success in future professional qualifications.
- EY's Press Release
From the figure I have extracted from a report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) about unemployment rate vs level of education in many areas in the world, we certainly don't see an obvious correlation between higher education and employment.
Traditional Higher Education Is Not Meant For the New AgeThis is not a surprise to people like me in the IT and Digital Business industry. Basically I have advanced in my career through doing rather than studying! Those of us who has couple of decades of milage in our career knows that career success, or success in general sense, does not rely on ONLY on how much you know but on other factors such as determination, commitment and a collection of other equally important personal attributes.
For certain industry or job functions, the know how can be easily learned through text-book or self-learning. I believe accounting is one of those where one has to dive into the ocean of text-books and to pass an array of professional examinations after the career started. The hard knowledge can be learned by self-studying but what's more challenging is the sheer amount of knowledge one must acquired in their professional live requires a whole lot of commitment and stamina.
In fact, with Internet and so much free information around, any person can learn hard knowledge through Google Search, Wikipeida, YouTube and so many other information sharing web or apps. And let's not forget Facebook, Twitter and even plain old Online Forum where we can shout our question if we cannot find the answer on our own search. Therefore learning hard knowledge does not need to go through the traditional Education Institution anymore.
In fact, with the advancement of digital communication and collaborative services, even the basic structure of corporation is changing without us knowing it. In simple terms, the line of works can be further "refined" and "streamlined". Knowledge worker will be able to work at home focusing only on their specialised skills as freelancer or parter worker. In the old days size of the corporation means more resources and execution power. Today, with good and smart automation, small companies with a few smart guys can leverage the vast amount of freelance workforce out there to compete with big organisation.
And let's not forget the famous quote from Bill Gates that "Bots are killing jobs". Many tasks performed by human will be replaced by bots or software. So if the higher education degree focuses on task that can easily be automated, such degree definitely does not guarantee the students any future success in their career.
I am not saying Universities are useless. They are very important as we step into the knowledge society! I am only saying that Higher Education may not be enough. And for some techocrat job, focusing on the technical skill set and safe time on general studies, which are bundled in must higher education system, may be the best use of ones time. Anyway schools just need to change quickly according to the world just like we do. That's why we have the new concept of Flip Classroom. We have also witnessed in the pass few years so many Universities are offering "Open Course" to the public. This is a response to the fact that hard knowledge are just freely available everywhere on the Internet. Education Institutions will simply have to find their new position above the zone of just teaching hard knowledge.
What A Job Seeker Must Do In The High Tech EraSo for us to get success in our career we must be prepared to do the following:
1 - Continuous LearningWe need to demonstrate that we have to ability to learn quickly and autonomously. In fact it's so easy to learn something today that if you have not tried to learn something new on YouTube or Slideshares.com or other similar websites, you have no idea what your competitions are up to.
If you do your job interview, better tell your potential employer that you have learned something (and enjoy doing so) from YouTube or other resources.
2 - Be prepare to face uncertaintyYes, with so much advance automation things going on, not only your task can be taken away by robot or software, your customer's business may be taken away by robots. Life is not fair and, yes, someone with a better machine will be able to take away a lot of people's jobs. You just have to be prepare for this to happen. Let people know that you are not a low level labor but has the wisdom to think ahead and have the will to survive through changes. We just have to be able to evolve, or may be even get mutantized quickly in our career!
Tell your job interviewer that you enjoy changes and demonstrate that you have enjoyed doing so (hopefully you mean it too and it's not a lie).
3 - Be prepare to fight internationallyFor example, Hong Kong, a tiny "market segment" of only 7 millions people where I work, is one such example. The local advertising industry is simply being cut into fractions of its original size as Facebook and Google have taken over advertising revenue from local media. I and my colleague will have to think carefully how we can leverage Facebook and Google to make a living in addition to running our own media sites. This is also part of the globalisation in progress as national border does not provide protection of jobs anymore. Be prepare to travel or use services from outside of your local community and integrate them as your advantage.
Prepare for your job interview and tell your potential employers that what you can bring to the table to help their business! Even if your ideas may not be perfect, you still demonstrate you have the will to do so.
SummaryI suppose that's what the employers are looking for, someone who can embrace and even ride on the intense competition created by technologies and globalisation. You have to be able to help your employer to face the same competitions that they are facing in order to get and be successful in your job!
It does sound very tiring but this is reality check. Let's stay positive and let's develop our will and enjoy the game of life!