OK, I'm about to open a can of worms. Education or Experience? Perhaps a bit of background on why this has percolated to the top of my things to complain about. While continuing on my ever widening job search for something Sensor Op related, I have perused many a job posting where there is a requirement for a post secondary education along with experience, and this has led me to ask why.
Lets look at my own example. I have no post secondary education. There are no letters after my name, yet I have 30 years experience in Sensor Operation, mission planning, mission management, instruction, standards and aviation in general. When does one outstrip the other? When can one say that education is worth more than experience OR vice versa? Don't get me wrong theres lots of other things going against me getting suitable employment in a field that I have loved for the past three decades, most notably of which is that I have three extra decades worth of life under my belt, which in a lot of situations would enable me hors de combat in the job competitivness department. I understand that most employers want someone who can work for them quite possibly for an entire career and I dont qualify on that count, so the needs of a company who wants someone for the long haul means that their experience levels are much lower than "us of a certain age", therefore the shortfall has to be made up with education, right? Or does it?
While I begrudge no one a career as an ASO, as I loved it for every one of those 30 years, we have to look at the way a lot of businesses run these days. A lot of companies are looking to change the demographic of their workforce in the future. The emphasis has begun to move away from "career" workers and start shifting towards contract or term workers. What employers are looking for then is someone who can parachute in, grab a desk (or hammer, wrench, torch or workstation) and do the job with a minimum of fuss or training. As the labor market constricts, as I see it, older workers will have more say in choosing the kind of jobs they do, when, and how they work.
This blog doesn't even cover that argument that us old guys are taking jobs away from the youngsters while we should be off enjoying our retirement. There's a whole 'nother discussion to be had about that which I won't cover here. Suffice to say that people want to stay in the workforce for two major reasons. The mental engagement and the income. People are living longer, healthier lives, still want to contribute to society and don't want to outlive their money. Sixty is the new fifty and all that.......
So the kids have longevity on their side and us seasoned guys don't, which brings me back to my initial point of Education vs. Experience. What do we bring to the fight then? There's a lot to be said for age. While the young guy has the benefit of post secondary education which may or may not be in a related field, I have the added perk of being out there in the work force and have lived life. Sort of a "been there, done that" perk that the kids dont have in their pocket. Most of us also have the ability to use critical thinking, have strong decision making skills, a good work ethic and outside the box thinking skills. We also tend to be highly trained, self-managed, short on ego and willing to put in a full day’s work. Most of us are also ready and willing to work part time instead of full time. Throw in efficient, organized, honest, punctual and dedicated and you give employers a lot of options. Put all this into a box and label it "life experience".
Now I'm not saying that younger and more educated people than I arent all of what I described in the previous paragraph, in fact a lot of them have all of the attributed I described, which then brings me back to does the employer want education or does he want experience in a worker?
It would seem from looking at job posts that companies are lookng for education, and that something I like to call "education creep" is rearing it head. Much like mission creep that all of us who have a military background lived and loathed, education creep is moving the goalposts ever farther to the side of requiring higher and higher education. I have noticed job posts that have a requirement of a baccalaureate degree and an "it would be nice" listing of a post graduate level degree like a masters. It seems we are over-qualifying the needs that an ASO required to do their job. Like I said I lived this in the military. When I was a youngster most day to day decisions could be made by a corporal or a lieutenant. those very same decisions now require a Sgt-Major or a full Colonel.
In other words, decisions made today take someone with more experience than education. Kinda seems like a circular argument doesn't it?