​Uni vs. Experience - Should Kiwis gain skills over degrees when it comes to IT jobs?

Is it better to be book smart or street smart?

Two leading UK employers have ditched university scores as a key measure in their graduate recruitment programmes.

Ernst & Young and PwC are removing compulsory education scores from their graduate recruitment programmes in the hope of diversifying their talent pool.

As a result, E&Y’s UK graduate recruiting team will be removing the degree classification from its entry criteria, stating that there’s “no evidence” to support the notion that success at university correlates with achievement in later life.

E&Y are following in the steps of PwCs’ UK branch, who have already scrapped using UCAS points as entry criteria for their graduate scheme.

Maggie Stilwell, EY’s managing partner for talent, believes 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.”

The audit firm believes placing too much emphasis on the scores will mean employers may miss out on key talent from disadvantaged backgrounds, who can perform less well at school.

“The move by two of the UK’s biggest graduate employers is indicative of a changing paradigm in recruitment and people development,” observes Grant Burley, Director, Absolute IT - an IT recruitment firm in New Zealand.

“That workplace culture and innovative thinking can often take precendence over IQ scores and university grades. So what can we learn from this down-under?”

Skill sets over degrees when it comes to IT jobs

“Is it better to be book smart or street smart?” Burley asks.

Burley believes that many of those individuals without an advanced or tertiary education will be inclined to say they’ve done just fine in life without pursuing academia, whilst those with plenty of formal learning may attribute their success wholely to their classroom and university education.

“But when it comes to IT jobs and the tech sector, some of the greatest thinkers and entrepreneurs don’t have formal IT education,” Burley adds.

“Henry Ford (Ford Motors), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Larry Page (Google) are some of the world’s most famous college dropouts.

“Constrained by the formalities of education institutions these dropouts went on to form some of the most successful tech companies in history.”

Education and earning potential

Previous Absolute IT research found that New Zealand tech professionals with 10 years experience and a degree earn upwards of 12 percent more than those without a degree and the gap only increases as their careers progress.

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