Posted on 10/07/2014 by Ryan Lamb
"I'm the first person in my family to go to University." Many years ago, these words would be accompanied by a large grin and a proud and forthright posture and would be received with a respectful acknowledgement. Can the same be said today? I'm afraid the answer is a definite, No.
15 years in recruitment has given me a real insight into the education system and what really sets individuals apart when they first enter the world of employment. I can now safely say that although intelligence is and always will be important, having a Degree has never been so inconsequential as it is today.
It always used to be said that, without a degree, opportunities to progress in life would be limited. As a result, students would bust a gut at school to achieve the A Levels required to get them into a recognised institution and put themselves on track for a flourishing career in their chosen field. 'Graduating with Honours' would not only provide for boastful conversation for parents and grandparents alike but it would also allow recruitment consultants to identify the potential high flyers for their clients. These days, spotting a Degree on a CV is almost as common place as identifying that they are a car driver with a clean driving license i.e. a useful footnote but highly unlikely to impact their application for the job at hand.
Many grads to be will probably be quite alarmed and angered by this comment. "I have just achieved a First Class Degree from the University of North West Watford don't you know!" Although we would never want to burst anyone's bubble and deter the real academics out there, the reality of the situation is that in some instances, jumping straight into industry from school has to be the best option. Yes a First Class Degree can reflect supreme intelligence and the potential to fly high. However from the CV's that we see on a daily basis, it more often than not represents an individual who 3 years earlier achieved D's and E's at school or college.
The modern day degree has been devalued so much that any decent interviewer worth his weight in gold will now look past the joint Honours in Sports Science and Social Policy, and moreover assess the applicant based on their ability to look them eye, smile and engage in interesting and relevant conversation.
Unless we are more discerning about channelling the right people into further education we run the risk of producing a lost generation of individuals consumed by delusions of grandeur and very little ability to apply themselves to commercial opportunities and situations.
"I'm the first person in my family to go straight into work after finishing school and my parents are very proud". How refreshing.