​Uni vs. Experience - Should Kiwis gain skills over degrees when it comes to IT jobs?

Is it better to be book smart or street smart?

Education Counts conducted a study on Tertiary Education outcomes in New Zealand, finding that employability was higher for those with formal learning qualifications than for those without.

According to Burley, they also found that the estimated average hourly wage had a direct correlation to document literacy and qualification.

Importantly, they also discovered the value of work experience in place of education qualifications - the employment rate for a 35 year old with no or school qualifications is equivalent to those of a 25 year old with a tertiary qualification.

Experiential learning a win for IT recruitment

When it comes to IT jobs and finding the right candidate there’s more than formal education to consider, according to Burley.

“Will they fit in with the team? Do they have a passion for the work? Are they a naturally curious thinker?” he adds.

“Employers need to start looking inward, and consider their company’s purpose, vision and values when looking at candidates.”

For Burley, is it more important to have someone who’s ready and willing to learn, and gets along with the team, or someone who has years of university training but an introverted personality?

“Finding a good cultural fit for your team is just as important as finding someone with the desired technical skill set,” he adds.

“If you’re an employer, don’t use qualification scores as a quick fire way to create a short-list.

“Take the research these large organisations have done and know that some of the most successful, innovative and motivated thinkers might not have thrived in a traditional learning situation, but they could in your work environment.”

Absolute IT’s most recent tech sector employer survey revealed that 56 percent of IT employers give preference to IT job applicants who demonstrate industry specific or technical qualifications over a university degree.

IT employers investing in youth talent

While the Kiwi tech sector is still screaming out for top tech talent and the industry knows it needs more men and women studying tech, Burley believes the market for graduate roles is still fierce.

“Large organisations across the world know investing in young talent makes great business sense,” he adds.

“Xero, BNZ and Vodafone are only a handful who offer highly sort after graduate programmes here in New Zealand.”

Burley believes every organisation is looking for different things; a certain cultural fit, an innovative way of thinking or topmost education level.

“Most know what ‘recipe’ works best for them and all are highly subscribed too,” he adds.

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