It’s been a never-ending discussion as to which is more important- Degree or Skills. I am here to debate and pick each one of them and see how they work separately; and thereby conclude what is needed in actuality. Coz without that we can keep talking till ‘cows come home’ and the whole debate will become a deception point rather than a decision point.
As you guys already know me, I believe in Story-telling! So I will start with an anecdote.
It was in early 90’s when this incident took place. Once a rich business man was on a road trip, where his car gave way while driving up a hill. He was very upset and tried all possible permutation and combination, as per his knowledge, to fix the car; but to no avail. He walked up the hill to seek for some roadside garage, but couldn’t see any. Feeling lost and dejected he started cursing his fate. This is when he saw a truck coming up the way, and he saw a ray of hope to rescue himself from that awkward situation. He stopped the truck and explained his plight to the truck driver. The driver readily agreed to help him but kept a clause saying, he needs to be paid whatever amount he claimed for. Seeing no option the businessman readily agreed. The truck driver opened the bonnet and checked what happened. Then he asked the businessman to try starting the car. Once he figured out where the problem was, he walked up to his truck, took out a screw driver and tightened a screw in the car. He again asked the businessman to start the car and this time it worked. There was an evident sigh of relief from the car driver and he thanked this man for his help. The truck driver gave a weird smile and asked the businessman for 100bucks. Aha! A businessman will always be a businessman; and he tried to negotiate on the amount, as he felt that it was too high. After a heated discussion he said-“OK, I will give you your 100 bucks. But you need to justify the reason why do you claim this money?” The truck-driver smiled back and gave an instant answer which put the so-called educated businessman in a shock. He said- “50 bucks is for my knowledge, coz I knew which screw to tighten. And 50 bucks is for my skill, for I knew how much to tighten it!” The businessman finally had to yield-in to his desires and gave away the 100bucks; but this time with a hearty smile J
This is the basic difference in a Degree/Knowledge and a Skill. If you go by stats, 45% of the recruiters go by the degree or certificates. There is a reason to it. Not all professions depends on just skills. Imagine you are at a restaurant and there is some problem with the food that was served. Will you speak to the waiter or will you speak to the manager? Undoubtedly, you will speak with the manager. But why? Because he has the Hotel Management Degree; and will be able to give you the exact reason for such a mishap. The waiter can only apologize and get you another plate. Therefore Degree is needed.
Another classic example, which was brought up by my colleague was- If you need a surgery done, will you go a normal doctor or a good doctor who has degrees from reputed institute? Of-course the latter! Who would like a take a risk on his own life? No one, isn’t it?
Enough with Degrees, now let’s take the argument towards skills. This is an interesting topic. Steve Jobs and many other entrepreneurs are the ones who are school drop outs. Yet they made multi-million dollar companies. And this was possible only because of their skills. Here is a quote from one of the websites which says-
When it comes to what’s most important to advance their career and earn a bigger paycheck, more than three in five (63%) employees report learning new skills or receiving special training, compared to those who report receiving a college or graduate degree (45%).
There is a Learning and Development Department in any organization where there is a TNA or training need analysis done per employee, and training calendar gets published based on the ‘Skill Gaps’ thus identified. Also you need to constantly update your competency matrix each calendar year, to prove your worth and showcase your abilities to be cross-functional.
According to a survey done this year, employers and hiring managers may be looking for something other than a specific degree as three in four (74%) employees believe their employers value work experience and related skills more than education when evaluating job candidates. Plus, half (48%) of employees with a college degree believe their specific degree is not very relevant to the job they do today, while four in five (80%) report that they have never been asked about their college GPA (grade point average) during a job interview. More than half (53%) of employees also believe a graduate degree is no longer necessary to be offered a high-paying job.
Having said all this, let me tell you that Degree is something which is concrete. Degree is an authenticate certificate that the person applying for the post has the knowledge of the requirement; and has the ability to manage the functioning and justify the post. On the contrary, it is skill which attracts the employers, clients and management which lifts or drops the person. Without the skill, the person would not be able to catch hold the interest of their superiors and attain success. Degree gives you the confidence and helps you build the insight which will help you make employable and add/upgrade skills. However, it is the skill that will drive the path and make you improve and explore on your capabilities.
To conclude I would say, degree is the first step to success and skill is the ladder.