Business

Viewpoint: Digital disruption: Is formal education obsolete?

Read time 2min 30sec
The impact of digital disruption in education creates the misconception that formal education should no longer be a prerequisite to employment, says SYSPRO Academy's Deirdre Fryer.
The impact of digital disruption in education creates the misconception that formal education should no longer be a prerequisite to employment, says SYSPRO Academy's Deirdre Fryer.

The impact of digital disruption in education and the trend towards informal learning has some industry observers commenting that university degrees and formal education should no longer be employment prerequisites.

In line with these shifting trends, established companies like Ernst & Young, for example, have changed their recruitment policies and no longer require future prospective employees to have university degrees.

Having a degree-only admittance policy can cut employers off from a massive pool of young talent and valuable staff potential.

Employment candidates should be chosen based on aptitude, attitude and/or experience which can be far more essential attributes for a productive employee than someone with the wrong company cultural fit and attitude but who has a degree behind their name. Just because a company's employees all have degrees at some level does not in itself guarantee that the company will be successful or productive.

I believe a blended education/recruitment approach is the best one, otherwise one could find oneself in a Catch-22 situation.

A degree is no guarantee to a company that the individual can apply what was learnt obtaining that degree or that their level of education is current and relevant. A person without a degree may have the right aptitude and attitude, and therefore be able to do the job, but this does not a guarantee that they understand and know what is ideal from a best-practice perspective.

On the one hand being self-taught or informally taught often means learners retain the information, which is good, but on the other hand it is also useful to have done a formal course or degree to give learners the affirmation that what they know is right, while also ensuring their knowledge level is in line with global best practice.

Formal learning should be able to be attained at any time where necessary. Formal learning is not a thing of the past but a value-add that can be achieved at any stage. A blended approach is a more beneficial way forward for businesses.

In a world of disruption, a company that steers and trains employees to constant growth and personal improvement, whether formal or informal, will make for a successful company with retained, loyal, satisfied and productive employees.

Of course, another benefit of a progressive and developed staff training programme will be a stable company with modest staff recruitment and retention costs.

Disruption can become a benefit to companies that embrace the new change, while also retaining the best aspects of the past as well.

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