Education or Experience – which is better?
This article is based on my own experiences and is not meant to be a criticism on one subject or the other.
I tell my 8 year old daughter to stick in and study at school, that way she will do well and have less to worry about when she leaves in about ten years from now. As someone who did not always pay attention and in some cases was happy for others to disrupt the class, I sometimes wish I could turn the clock back.
But if I did, would I be where I am today and the person I am today?
There are strong arguments that say Experience is more important than Education and vice versa. I, like many had to take the harder route and try to get a combination or balance of both.
Having left school without the qualifications I wanted and needed to further my accountancy career, I had to start at the bottom of the ladder. For those that remember it, the Youth Training Scheme, or YTS, was the best thing that happened to me.
For a wage of £25 per week I attended an office training college situated in Broughton Street Lane, Edinburgh. The only boy in the class who was learning to touch type, answer a phone properly and become a proficient office junior. This lead to work experience with a reputable firm of Chartered Accountants and at the end of it a full time job as an office junior. I was on the first rung of the accountancy ladder.
Whilst holding down my day job I started evening classes to improve my grades, and slowly worked my way up through the company and indeed moved companies. Again, more studying and more working as I progressed to achieving my Accounting Technician qualification.
So on it went, working and studying, studying and working and all the time gaining vital on the job experience that the books could not teach me. I remember having to show a colleague who had recently left University where she would find her clients trial balance so that she could prepare the accounts. I remember the look on her face as I handed here a box of invoices, statements and cheque stubbs and said “its in there”.
Don’t get me wrong, education is important and a vital ingredient, but don’t overlook experience. Someone with a vast number of years experience is very likely to have been involved in CPD – Continuing Professional Development. They cannot afford to stand still so they keep up to speed on all developments.
So when you are looking for a new employee, by all means look at those who have the qualifications, the MBA’s, the ACCA’s and of course the CA’s. But don’t overlook the people with a lot of years under their belt who can still do the same job but perhaps don’t have the right letters after their name.
All I ask of anyone is to balance the scales and make it a fair and level playing field. Judge people on all their attributes, on everything they bring to the table and in some cases what they have achieved to date.
Then you will be able to make an informed decision on your next new member of staff.
To finish, I’d like to share a little known fact. The office training college that I started in way back in late 198, well I am now back in that office in my current role.
Only now I am Head of Risk for a multi million pound company that is also about to be acquired (for the second time) as part of an international billion dollar deal.
All it took me was a lot of hard work, a lot studying, a lot of experience, a lot of determination and of course 29 years to do it all in.