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Hire people with skills, not many degrees

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Hire people with skills, not many degrees. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Adam Grant, an American psychologist and professor at the Wharton School once said; "The mark of higher education isn't the knowledge you accumulate in your head. It's the skills you gain about how to learn."
  • In essence, learning begins after school.
  • This is perhaps the reason many employers prefer work experience, for skills are what differentiate us, not how high we have climbed the tertiary education ladder.

Adam Grant, an American psychologist and professor at the Wharton School once said; "The mark of higher education isn't the knowledge you accumulate in your head. It's the skills you gain about how to learn."

In essence, learning begins after school. This is perhaps the reason many employers prefer work experience, for skills are what differentiate us, not how high we have climbed the tertiary education ladder.

Psychologist Richard Gross defined learning as the process of acquiring new or modifying knowledge, behaviours, skills, values or preferences.

Pythagoras simplified it as the “love of wisdom” (philosophia) or philosophy.

During Pythagoras' time, philosophy became a significant area of study, addressing a broad spectrum and essential questions about what Wilfrid Sellars explained in her works, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, as our existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language.

The questions were often in the form of a problem that they then studied or resolved. Since then, much has been settled, resulting in the accumulation of much of the wisdom we have today. Our role, therefore, is to advance the thinking around our existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language, not just in academia, but also in practice.

For example, we need to ask what has fundamentally changed in our society that we are witnessing brutal murders never seen before? If education was meant to safeguard our democracy, why do we elect bad people? Why do we fail to plan for drought?

The answers to these questions lie squarely in the hands of those who we choose or select to represent us or work in our organisations. If we loved wisdom, we could choose our leadership wisely.

If employers loved wisdom, they would hire people with skills and not those with a trail of papers that serve no good for humanity.

A quick survey on employment advertisement, even for mundane jobs, now requires a master’s degree.

The demand for such higher degrees is causing problems in higher education where the motivation for acquiring a master's degree is more to satisfy employer demand than the pursuit of knowledge.

This practice also applies to doctoral programmes too where the employer is arbitrarily asking for PhD within a specified time to teach at university.

As we move towards the fourth industrial revolution, it is time to start using credit scoring in deciding who is the best employee. To do this, organisations must define the goal, which in my view is to develop students on how to learn and be curious.

Although different organisations could have different credit scoring models, the one common aspect to all models is data. With technology, it is possible to collect both structured and unstructured data about employees.

Other critical aspects to developing a working credit scoring model agree to the relevant data with all stakeholders. In the teaching profession, there are multiple sources of data, including data from students, parents and the employer.

Employers must develop mechanisms of gathering and storing data from every unit taught through competency tests. Use the data to relate to the student, parent comments and other social credits to determine the competence of the teacher or lecturer.

It may sound like much work, but financial institutions have developed such scoring mechanisms that they can detect defaulters.

The existing performance models have not been helpful to employers too since they keep on adding requirements of higher degree as a basis of discrimination instead of finding right person with right skills.

The credit scoring may be our knight in shining armour in our employment and retention of employees. As for the political process, we need prayers.