IS A QUALIFICATION NECESSARY FOR EMPLOYMENT OR ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
WRITTEN BY SUANNE LA ROSE
Today I called on our resident Contributors Leah, Veronica and our Founder Sashka to have a conversation about the necessity of having a qualification for your vocation.
They started off by all agreeing that the requirement for employment and that of starting a business are totally different in terms of the set of skills and the mindset.
They then posed two viewpoints to start their conversation:
ONE: Are qualifications required to start a business or do you most need them to be gainfully employed?
TWO: Can you only make your mark with getting a degree or diploma?
And then, the ladies set off into a very interesting conversation.
Why is getting a piece of paper so relevant to some societies?
Because for some societies, it’s a symbol for security.
It means that the person across from you has taken their time and energy (and money) to invest in mastering their craft and being the best at it.
It means that the person across from you has some privileges that are more than often not granted to everyone in society.
It means that the person across you has learned a craft and has been educated on theory and formed a network of some sort as well as a created a social circle for themselves.
But, not all graduates who get that piece of paper are in fact a ‘Master’ in it. All they have is a piece of paper and no experience. And experience, as we all agree, is the key factor for success.
HIGHER EDUCATION OR SELF-EDUCATION?
The Contributors all agreed that higher education is useful but self-education (or discipline) is essential if you desire great achievements in life.
Personally, I do think this all depends on who you talk to.
There is evidence that shows it’s not the piece of paper that keeps your business thriving and growing, nor will your 4.0 GPA help you keep customers and come up with creative ideas.
There is more to it than just numbers or degree-game.
All agreed, that there are things you are just a natural at, and no amount of studying and learning can teach you that – education or further education can enhance the natural talent that you have to become a Master at your craft.
Also, it isn’t necessarily all about the qualification that you have but more about the character traits that you have and use.
For example, one of the biggest lessons learned as either an entrepreneur or employee is that a piece of paper doesn’t teach you how to fail. It only teaches theory and it’s taught mostly through a Universal Law of ’cause-and-effect’. Learn XYZ and be rewarded with XYZ. Most are taught to think and analyze the same to all come to a similar conclusion or outcome. But, and all contributors agreed that life and experiences is what teaches about failure and more importantly that it is in failure that one learns to succeed and not give up. In fact, there are so many books about how to be successful in business or employment. In searching the internet, the number of books on how to succeed vs WTF (Willing to Fail) books is huge!
You may be asking, “Why on earth would you want to read a book on someone’s failures?” Which I feel Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post and Founder of Thrive said best: “Failure is not the opposite of success, it is part of success.”
Let’s stop for a minute and look back at history. DISCLAIMER: Just because some of these examples didn’t get their qualifications, does not mean you don’t need either, this breakdown aims to show the value in both.
- The closest Mark Twain got to formal education was nights in the public library.
- John Glenn Jr. the second man to orbit Earth aka an astronaut, didn’t have a college degree as he dropped out to serve in WW2.
- Albert Einstein was a high school drop-out and failed the entrance exams for university.
We don’t even need to step that far back into history, 2009 wasn’t that far back!
- Jan Koum dropped out of university where he was studying math and computer science, he then went on to co-found WhatsApp.
- Alex Ferguson, legendary football manager has 8 honorary degrees but not a college degree.
- Steve Jobs only attended college for 6 months.
I wish I had known this when I was struggling through college, though my parents would have probably rolled their eyes at me and told me to quit mouthing off and study.
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Companies/institutions (some, not all) require some form of training/qualification and a piece of paper to prove it.
For example, you don’t want to be in the dentist’s office and see a high school diploma and a note from his art teacher that says, “is great with his or her hands”.
There are critical positions that need training, development and experience to exercise their role confidently.
The contributors posed the question: “What impact would there be on the economy, by getting rid of degrees and diplomas?”
“Because Albert Einstein did so well for himself”, is not the answer.
We doodled on what this may mean, which would be two-fold:
- There are bigger spaces for learning within the realms of creativity and innovation. It opens up new avenues, that will for sure lead us to new frontiers. There would be a transformation.
- We would need to look at those areas that professions that require a certain level of education.
Is there a chance more and more jobs will be replaced by AI or be handled a different way? Or by other means? What areas can be replaced by technology?
For example, going to the grocery store isn’t even a necessity anymore and this was long before COVID.
Do we want to live in a society where education rewards us and applauds us for every little thing we do?
This does not drive competitiveness and creativity or encourage us to be achieving anything. I don’t want an award for participation when I stood there and did nothing on the soccer field, I want the best player, most improved, most likely to succeed. Are you picking up what I’m putting down? But, the question stands – do I need an ‘award’ for that achievement like a degree or diploma for a ‘level’ achieved? What would life look like without achieving ‘levels’?
Maybe this is too much of a generalization but in today’s society, there is a need for instant gratification.
Why do you think Egg Powder and Frozen Meals were invented? Some of us have chosen to not wait, we want things now and we want things our way. The world is full of people who just want to take and take from it. Why wait for the chicken to hatch the egg when I can just throw water and egg powder together and get scrambled eggs? The same can be said for the people in the Sciences (Drs., nurses, scientists, industrial designers, engineers,) do you think they want to spend 8+ years studying to be able to tell you to drink a pill or that your new office space will look in a marsh field? There is so much more to it than that. Can life skills, the soft skills be added to their classes, “how not to be ASS to your clients” or “Bedside Manners for Dummies”?
Survival forms a culture.
Growing up in an under-developed country in the ’70s, Sashka learned that in order to survive in the working world, you had to be creative and see loopholes, especially if you weren’t exceptionally intelligent to get into the top Universities or finish school i.e. getting that piece of paper. She went on to say that Africa, is a continent full of entrepreneurship and small businesses, despite not a lot of easily accessible higher education.
Which makes you wonder: How any business can survive and grow financially if no formal education has been learned to implement?
Sashka replies that it’s all about resilience and survival of the fittest. If you’re not going to innovate, your business will die, and it is always about WHO you know and not always WHAT you know.
She goes on to say that not every country and continent are like Africa (and she adds that she is also generalising due to her upbringing and her experience doesn’t speak for the whole of Africa). More often than not in developed countries, education and experience are key to getting anywhere, like in Austria, where Sashka now resides and in addition to other European countries.
Europe has a lot more bureaucracy and closed doors in comparison to Africa. Getting anywhere without education in Austria, for example, can be incredibly unmotivating and demoralizing, as there are so many hurdles to jump before actually starting. You can definitely feel that you don’t have control as a business owner, which is why many in Europe just ‘give up’, but for Sashka, having to learn how to see loopholes to survive her whole life in South Africa, her journey within Europe, despite all the hurdles were overcome by seeing the many opportunities and the loopholes. The road to getting where you want to is longer but the experience that is gained over that time is invaluable and cannot be taught.
Opening up your own business in Europe isn’t as ‘easy’ as it is in Africa for example. Even though you would think that entrepreneurship would be vital for opportunity and growth in our economies.
Sashka asks: “Should it not be seen as a good thing to be opening businesses, adding value, creating jobs, stimulation of innovation. Instead, there are too many hurdles – especially around having a piece of paper to ‘prove’ that you’re ‘worthy’ of exercising a job or opening a business. I really can understand the logic behind the limitations but I can also see how much talent is wasted when entrepreneurs have to choose directions that they really don’t want just because of some stupid piece of paper.”
Leah, who is also from South Africa strongly believes that qualifications are key and are essential. She relays of her recent experience whilst building her home where she was given two options:
One: Hire the budget-friendly, less experienced tile person or
Two: The not so budget-friendly person who has many years of experience and comes highly recommended?
“What would you do?” she asks.
Leah goes on to say: “When last I checked money doesn’t grow on trees and we work hard for our money. So, we go with the less experienced but very budget-friendly team and hope for the best. This best doesn’t necessarily always work out in our favour and we end up spending more money than we had initially budgeted for. There is a lot to be said about the amount of experience one has and the value it has to our pocket and peace of mind. But when you’re on a tight budget, you take what you can and hope for the best!”
THE NOW - IN CLOSING.
What Veronica, Sashka, and Leah can all agree on is that a Formal Education doesn’t teach you everything, soft skills and critical life skills are seriously lacking. This ties into our chat about Education where Veronica, the Founder of the Human School of Connection, really goes into depth about the importance of Education without the stigma of it.
Too many of the future generations aren’t being taught the necessary skills to succeed in this ever-changing world. It’s all about facts and figures – and even though numbers don’t lie, neither does being human or at least learning to be one. These are things that don’t often get taught in the average learning setting, and some of these basics soft skills should be taught from a young age. You can be highly qualified and have the worst people skills, this will not assist in getting or retain business. It is incredibly short-sighted for institutions, people, small to large business to be the judge on what is needed to survive as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is not only good for the economy, but it helps drive innovation.
When we look at the incredible RBG – Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the USA, yes she received her ‘piece-of-paper’ from not ONE but TWO Universities at the SAME time for the SAME LAW DEGREE, which at the time, was UNHEARD of that a woman study law. But she did it. However, she was not allowed to PRACTICE law, but she was allowed to TEACH it as a Professor for some years before it was the ‘right’ time for her to show up as a woman in law to fight for Gender Equality. Although she had her degrees, by not ‘practising’ the law, the degree, unfortunately, had no worth in the market. It only gained its status when it was PRACTICED.
There has to be practice in the theory that we are taught, or else what value does it add? You can be educated by all the best teachers and professors in the world, but if you can’t apply what you have learnt and have it made sense to someone else, what value is there? There is a place for higher education, there is also huge place for higher education and practical work or experienced-based education. Practical work doesn’t mean taking out the trash or being the copier in the office as you are learning, but there are internships and volunteer opportunities to be done. Even as an entrepreneur you have to put into practice certain things, to be able to help your business grow, and as your practice you gain more experience. At the end of the day, when you sit down and buckle your seat in the airplane, you want a pilot who has done his 1500+ hours of practice to get his license, you want to sit back and relax with confidence. The industry you want to go into or are into will guide you in what education is necessary.
We as humans need to learn to LISTEN.
The stigma around education is that you only have worth when you have a piece of paper in your hands to ‘prove’ or ‘justify’ that you have indeed received a higher education, which could be interpreted as a status or privilege. But in the ‘real world’, your piece of paper really only has value, when you’ve gained the experience that supports the theory (or challenges it). And in no way, should a human being EVER be judged that they aren’t worthy ‘just because’ they do not have a piece of paper to prove their opinions.
We as human beings need to learn and discover how to LISTEN to others because very often, we are ALL saying the same thing but in different words, tonality, meaning and emotion. It’s the ability to read between-the-lines to see the meaning and not being blinded by old conditioning of what is ‘worthy’.