University education no longer a useful barometer of capable workers

SME owners are skeptical about the value of a university education when taking on staff, research finds. 

SME owners are skeptical about the value of a university education when taking on staff, research finds. 

Some 63 per cent of entrepreneurs believe university degrees are becoming increasingly devalued and, of that number, more than two fifths find that degrees are now so commonplace that they have lost some of their meaning.

Additionally, more than a third say there is no substitute for practical experience, according to the study by the Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey that canvasses the opinion of business owners and managers from a range of sectors across the UK and Ireland.

CEO of Close Brothers Invoice Finance David Thomson, says, ‘It may not come as a surprise to some that so many employers think that a university education is becoming less valuable.

‘Despite the fact that the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) recorded the highest level of entrants to UK universities last year with almost 496,000 students beginning full-time undergraduate courses, the value of third level education is becoming a subject for debate.

‘Our statistics seem to suggest that many employers are beginning to give greater recognition to practical, hands on experience, arguably ahead of academic achievement.’

The survey finds that almost two fifths of bosses say they do not consider a degree to be important at all when it comes to hiring new staff members.

Thomson adds, ‘Given that SMEs account for 99.9 per cent of all private sector businesses and collectively employ 14.4 million people in the UK, it is perhaps time for young people to think differently about their career path.

‘Of course, it depends on your chosen career, but the skills potential employers are looking for can often be developed in many ways.’

Further reading on education

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

Related Topics

Managing Staff

Leave a comment