Experience more important than a degree

2005

Work experience counts with employers looking for entry-level candidates more than a degree-level qualification.

A survey of 100 mid-sized UK employers by advisory firm KPMG found that more than half (56 per cent) believed that entry level candidates – those who have just left school, college or higher education – should possess relevant work experience.

Fewer than one in 10 (9 per cent) felt that a relevant degree-level qualification was important.

The survey also found that just over a quarter of respondents – 28 per cent – felt that a good cultural fit with the organisation was the most important thing for them when recruiting for these roles.

"While achieving a good degree clearly remains important when entering the job market, our research has shown that if a candidate can demonstrate relevant work experience this is a significant consideration for many employers," said Ian Hopkinson, People Services Partner at KPMG.

"However, the expectation that entry level candidates will posses this experience before joining a firm is difficult to fulfil at this early stage in their careers so candidates should make the most of any opportunities to undertake work experience within the field they wish to enter.

The survey also found that almost half (46 per cent) of mid market employers are finding it difficult to recruit people who have the necessary skills to support their businesses.

Only one in five said they found it easy or very easy to recruit the staff with the appropriate skills.

Sales jobs were the roles that employers had the greatest difficulty in recruiting staff for, according to a third of respondents. While 18 per cent of respondents struggled to recruit staff for finance jobs; however, only 10 per cent found marketing roles difficult to fill.

The majority of respondents (69 per cent) occasionally used external skills training providers, but only 19 per cent did so often.

However, in trying to source an external skills training course that was both affordable and effective, a third of respondents found it difficult or very difficult.

The survey found that the reasons why firms might wish to outsource their training are overwhelmingly to access specialist resources that are not available internally – 86 per cent said this was the case. The remaining 14 per cent said that it was to reduce costs.