a group of university students discussing education and experience

There’s a never-ending debate on deciding whether education is better than experience, or vice versa. 

A recent survey by recruitment firm Universum revealed that 58% of leading graduate employers value work experience more than grades or where their prospective employee went to university. From that statistic alone, you could say experience clearly trumps education, but only by a margin.

The truth is there is no clear winner, and depending on what career path you want to pursue, both education and experience should be held in equal regards.

In this article, we take a look at both sides of the argument.

Why Education is More Important Than Experience

If you ever were to have a chat with a university professor, lecturer or teacher, they will sit you down, go into great detail to explain why education is very important, and why you should get a university degree.

You’re bound to hear this argument from them since they are working in education. But having a degree will help you gain some transferable skills like the ability to research, analyse, write reports, and time management. 

Plus, there are some careers that require you to have a good education, such as doctors, lawyers and engineers. These roles require you to hold the relevant degree, regardless of whether you’ve managed to gain any experience or not.

Also, not all educational benefits revolve around university education. We’re seeing a plethora of students enrolling onto vocational qualifications such as health and social care and child care which teach practical skills and knowledge based on a specific career sector. Some vocational roles also require you to complete certain hours of work experience.

On completion of these vocational courses, you can show employers that you are qualified to be in the role. And further qualifications can also lead to a higher salary.

Why Experience is More Important Than Education

If you speak with any self-made entrepreneur like Richard Branson, they are more likely to say that experience is key (Branson left school at the age of 16). That said, Branson has started many initiatives to encourage the younger generation to get a good education.

But let’s say if you do leave school and you manage to find a job, you have the advantage of gaining at least 3 years industrial experience in comparison to your peers who have opted to go to university. Plus, if you succeed and get promoted very early on in your career, employers will see that you have got the grit, determination and motivation. Plus, since you’ve acclimatised early in the working environment, employers won’t have to spend much time onboarding you or training you. 

For graduates who completed a sandwich year, where they gain a year’s work experience in an industry related to their degree, they stand a better chance of securing employment in comparison to graduates who never completed a placement year. 

Why Experience and Education are Equally Important

As I have said earlier, knowing whether experience is better than employment or the other way round isn’t as straightforward as it seems. 

For university students, you’re better off doing a sandwich year to boost your employment prospects. 

And for those who have decided to go straight into work after leaving school, you can access online learning where you can learn at your own time and at your own pace, and you can complete the learning to fit both your work and home life.

The Learning Station provides a wide range of online distance learning courses in a variety of subjects from vocational training in child care and health and social care to upskilling such as Functional Skills and Business Admin.

Here are some of our course options:

For our full course list, please see our courses page.

Don’t Forget the Other Important Factor Employers Consider

While most employers will want to see a combination of good qualifications and experience, there is another factor that employers look out for during the interview, and that’s your personality. According to another study by Universum, 48% of employers select a candidate because of their personality. To find out what career path would suit your personality, check out our recent career to personality type blog post, which centres around Myer-Briggs Personalities.

Thanks for reading! What do you think is more important? Education or experience? Please let us know in the comments sections below.