63% of UK SME owners feel that the value of degrees is declining, while a third believe that practical experience is the most important thing on an applicant’s CV, according to new research.
The latest Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey of business owners across a range of sectors, found that more than two fifths of directors see degrees as so commonplace that they are starting to lose their meaning. A similar number said that they did not see a degree as “at all” important when deciding who to hire.
“It may not come as a surprise to some that so many employers think that a university education is becoming less valuable,” said David Thomson, CEO of Close Brothers Invoice Finance. “The value of third level education is becoming a subject for debate and that’s despite figures from UCAS admission service which recorded the highest level of entrants to UK universities last year with almost 496,000 students beginning full-time undergraduate courses.”
“These statistics seem to suggest that many employers are beginning to give greater recognition to practical, hands on experience, arguably ahead of academic achievement,” he added.
These preferences deserve to be taken seriously, pointed out Thomson, given that SMEs are responsible for employing 14.4 million people in the UK and account for 99.9% of all businesses in the private sector.
“Of course, it depends on your chosen career, but the skills potential employers are looking for can be developed in many ways,” he said. “It’s time for young people to think differently about their career path.”