THE BLOG

What's in a Degree?

14/08/2014 14:23 BST | Updated 13/10/2014 10:59 BST

I find myself on the hunt for a new opportunity. Refreshingly I can share this because, unlike many of my jobseeking counterparts, my current employer is fully supportive of my decision to return to my communications specialism having successfully delivered my three year plan as a generalist.

Being in a privileged position where I can take a little time to really consider my next move - be that setting up my own communications consultancy or identifying the right organisation, with the right values for me - I have been researching the opportunities in the market; perusing a vast number which organisations and recruiters are posting daily.

I am, however, rapidly becoming disheartened.

Despite being recognised as an expert in my field, with my experience and skills matching exactly what is required, I am unable to apply for the majority of opportunities because of a nice clear caveat at the top of the must have list... A degree.

A backwards approach

I wasn't looking at what could be deemed as traditional, old school businesses who are stuck in the 20th Century (the sorts of organisation which still choose their employees based on class, gender and heritage). No, these organisations were small, exciting, fast growth businesses all of which screamed 'we strive for equality and diversity in our business' - just not from an educational viewpoint I guess...

For me this seems like a backwards approach. The future of work is all about challenging convention. Technology is changing the game daily. And millennials are more focused on what they want; aspiring to be like Jacqueline Gold (CEO of Ann Summers), Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin) and even Mr Nasty himself - Simon Cowell. All of whom left school, have no degrees and are now hugely successful individuals.

In fact when you scroll through an Elite Daily list of successful entrepreneurs you soon realise that the vast majority founded their own multi-million, if not billion, businesses and did so without a degree.

Avoiding the talking shop

I don't consider myself as disadvantaged. I chose to work over going to University despite qualifying and receiving offers to some of the most prestigious because it was the right thing to do for me. So it makes you wonder what hope do those who do come from deprived backgrounds have?

This goes back to my previous post for Huffington - that in order to create true equality, it's not just the Governments that need to change, it's also the mindsets of businesses.

If we are going to talk about being equal and diverse across our workforces then we must not allow it to be a talking shop. With the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggesting UK University debt averages at £44,000, fewer individuals are prepared to set themselves up for years of repayment plans and thus opt for work or apprenticeships over further education. We therefore have to open our eyes to the fact that degrees are no longer a prerequisite to success - a 2:2 in sports science does not make for a better communications manager.

So if you want to reap from the best of the crop and create a solid talent pipeline, I encourage you to drop the 'degree required' and open your eyes to the experience and achievements of those without a cream scroll. You'll be surprised at what we can offer...