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UK PLC: UNIVERSITY DEGREES NOT CRITICAL TO SUCCESS

UK PLC: UNIVERSITY DEGREES NOT CRITICAL TO SUCCESS

Three in five senior managers (60%) say that it "makes no difference" whether a candidate has a degree or not, when considering them for a job. The new study, commissioned by Santander, explores business attitudes to the value placed on a university education in light of rising tuition fees.

The survey, conducted among over 400 businesses in the UK, also revealed that two thirds (66%) of managers would prefer to hire a school leaver with two years' work experience over a recent graduate. This inclination continued with 80% preferring to hire a school leaver with three years' experience.

The rising cost of a university education is causing many young people and their families to question the value of a degree as against going directly into work. The research sends a message to those young people who choose not to go via the traditional university route that they can still achieve their career goals. Over a half of businesses surveyed (52%) did not view a university education as a critical success factor asserting that those who join a company straight out of school progress just as far as those with a degree. Almost a quarter (24%) questioned the value of a university education disagreeing that the new cost of university education is value for money in terms of career prospects. 

Richard O'Flynn, Talent & Leadership Development Manager at Santander, said: "The survey results demonstrate that employers are open-minded about the various talent pools that they recruit from. At Santander we understand that some high potential candidates may not choose or be able to go to university. Our dedicated ''Flying Start' programme is designed to attract these people providing participants with on-the-job training and the opportunity to study for a degree equivalent qualification. We will have over 30 participants in the programme by the end of 2011 and will be looking to increase the numbers in 2012.

However, we know that a university education continues to a very effective route for many and so we continue to be committed to supporting graduates. We aim to recruit over 100 graduates into our structured career programmes in 2011."

Country General Manager Andrew Cook from recruitment consultancy Kelly Services, said: “Overall, the workforce have found formal education is less important than work experience. Our research demonstrates that over four fifths of people feel work experience has been the most important factor in their career progression.

“However, many industries such as education and science will continue to place a strong emphasis on formal education and the majority of people recognise that upgrading qualifications and skills throughout their careers is essential for progression. What Kelly Services has seen as a business is that companies are increasingly looking for strong work experience on CVs, especially as there are more candidates in the job market as a result of the challenging economic landscape in the UK.”

The survey was conducted over a two week period by ICM Research on behalf of Santander amongst a business panel of 409 professionals (managerial level and above) representing a broad range of industry sectors and sizes.

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