Which is More Important: Diploma or Hands-on Experience?

Which is More Important: Diploma or Hands-on Experience?

Photo: https://m.1obl.ru/

Judging by the statement of Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the State Duma, the decision to withdraw from the Bologna Process was supported by all the factions, as if there was nothing to be worry about. However, the prospects of Russian higher education are still unclear.

What Russians Think About Bologna Process

Despite the almost 20-year existence of bachelors and masters, 13% of Russians still believe that a bachelor's degree is virtually the same as a specialized secondary education. “And even lower, since vocational training in colleges is more solid than in higher education, and a bachelor receives no professional training other than the ability to study and general knowledge.” “A student cannot get a complete understanding of a profession in 3-4 years. Nor will he be able to master all the disciplines that are part of the learning process in this short period of time,” people write in social networks.

Employers Also see no Difference Between Bachelors and Specialists

The Bologna Process implied the identification of the Russian and Western educational systems, as well as mutual recognition of the bachelor's and master's degrees. However, this did not happen on the world stage, and domestic employers did not see any difference from replacing the specialty to the two-tier system of education.

“In some cases, employers never recognized the four-year bachelor's degree. The master's degree was seen as special training, but universities lacked staff and methodological resources. After the bachelor's many graduates try to find a job. As a result they work and earn their master's degree through evening classes, which cannot ensure the quality of education,” said the head of the Ministry of Education and Science Valery Falkov.

The new national system of higher education, according to Falkov, will be different. Creators are now in demand again. As Falkov said, with Russia's withdrawal from the Bologna Process, students will not have to fear non-recognition of diplomas.

In the first years of transition to the bachelor's and master's degrees employers could not figure out what kind of a specialist came to them to apply for a job and considered the bachelor's degree as unfinished higher education.

Everyone пradually got used to the new situation, but it turned out that the diploma is not a guarantee of professional skills. Some companies do not require it at all. In the opinion of human resources specialists, in modern conditions it is not the “wallpaper degree” that is more valued, but the purposefulness and specific achievements of the applicant in this or that industry.

A diploma with honors from even the most prestigious university does not give any preference in job interviews. It is the skills that matter. Knowledge is devalued today because of its availability, while skills, on the contrary, are becoming even more valuable,” said Alexander Chumikov, professor at the Department of Communication Technology at Moscow State Linguistic University.

Indeed, surveys show that small firms do not care about diploma. “I believe that diploma does not always indicate the potential of a person.” “He will be better off without education, but brainy.”

Large employers also do not see a significant difference between Bachelor's and Specialist's graduates. Most companies have some kind of educational courses, either integrated into universities or existing within the companies themselves and are ready to work with young personnel on their own.

RBC interviewed the largest employers in Russia 2021. It turned out, for example, that the Sibur company does not require higher education. The main requirement for candidates is competence and experience.

Even the Russian Railways do not set stringent requirements for young professionals, stating a willingness to hire students with incomplete higher education. Again, the main quality is having basic profile knowledge. Applicants with diplomas are expected to be hired for managerial positions.

IT-industry is loyal to specialists without a diploma for several reasons. On the one hand, there is severe staff shortage in this sector: employers simply have no possibility to pick on education. On the other hand, technologies in this area change with lightning speed along with the competencies required for a career. That is, the knowledge of even the best graduate with a high score will become obsolete in just a couple of years after receiving his diploma.

“In IT, the percentage of self-taught programmers or those who have undergone an advanced training course exceeds the number of specialists with specialized education. The same applies to design, marketing, or managerial professions. Such a shift is quite logical, because even employers are not entirely clear what kind of university a targetologist, a social media manager, an account manager, or a director of client relations should graduate from,” said CEO of Skillbox Dmitry Krutov.

Profile Education is Still Important

It is still too early to say that no one needs higher education. The need for a diploma largely depends on the industry in which the graduate is going to work and what positions he or she expects to take. For medics, engineers, and educators the education received is important.

“Even if a candidate has impressive expertise in the medical or pharmaceutical industry and experience in one of the top five Russian and international companies, they will not be ready to be considered due to the lack of profile education,” said Natalia Makhmutkina, senior consultant at Hays.

“For example, for some positions in the company we look not only at the fact of having higher education, but also at the correspondence of the diploma to the specialty for which the person comes,” said Oksana Smushchenko, co-owner of the Gelster trade and construction company. “Today, higher education alone does not give many opportunities and advantages in the competitive labor market. But without it you are deprived of any prospects at all.”

What is Worth Changing in Higher Education

Large companies would like to see more significant changes in the current educational system. In their opinion, graduates lack practical skills in line with current trends. Educational programs in higher education need to adapt to market trends and place more emphasis on the applied field and immersion in detail.

In addition, employers say that they would like students to develop such competences as variability of thinking, communication building, ability to work with sources.

According to Ekaterina Cherkeszadeh, head of Universal University of Creative Industries, having a higher education makes a difference. She believes that it shows personal growth. The contrast with those who have no higher education is quite large.

In general, higher education helps to form skills of critical thinking, research, analysis of information, i.e. to develop skills which are most valuable on the labor market.

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