HR 26 August 2016

How important should employers consider academic qualifications?

Employers should consider which qualifications are relevant and essential for the job role in question
With this year’s GCSE results showing a significant fall in the number of pupils achieving high grades in core subjects, HR director at employment law consultancy Peninsula, Alan Price, asks how seriously employers should take academic achievement when recruiting.

First off, there is no conclusive answer on whether employees should take academic qualifications into consideration during the recruitment process this depends entirely on the job role in question, and whether the qualification is truly essential, desirable or not needed at all, in order for the job role to be carried out effectively.

Obviously, academic qualifications are pre-requisites for some professions and certain jobs in the legal profession. Employers must take these into consideration when recruiting, and can ask any prospective employee for evidence of these qualifications to ensure they are qualified to do the job.

Some employers seek those with qualifications for kudos, or demand that all employees have achieved a first class degree. Employers should think seriously about why they’re requesting qualifications for this purpose only it does not make sense to do this if the job role is not dependent on these criteria, and an employer may overlook the perfect candidate for the job.

Employers may also look at hobbies and interests that are carried out outside of studying. Extra-curricular activities develop important employability skills. Attributes such as teamwork, effective communication and people skills can be invaluable for an employer.

There are many people who work in professional fields that are qualified by experience only, and who do not hold any academic qualifications. This may sometimes be seen as a barrier at recruitment stage but is often an advantage.

Some employers prefer to recruit people who have more experience in the field they are recruiting in and would prefer to hire someone with three years? work experience rather than another person who has spent the same three years at university. There are huge numbers of people who look at vocational qualifications rather than academic: another angle for recruiters to consider.

When recruiting an employee for a manager or director position in particular, it’s arguably even more important not to focus purely on qualifications. With the continuous evolution of the workplace, managers and leaders need to be able to adapt and transform a business with ever-increasing speed, and need the ability to learn from experiences and apply that learning to new and different situations.

Employers should not forget the vital, softer skills required that employees gather with work experience rather than through an academic qualification. These are skills that include communication, organisation, time management and flexibility which can make up a major proportion of a job role.


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