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  • Writer's pictureWork Pirates Crew

Skills trump degrees in the modern workplace

Today, practical skills are valued more than ever in the workplace. While a degree is still valuable, skills have become the most sought-after attributes. In fact, Michelle was recently featured in a national newspaper talking about why she won't be pushing her teenage son into University when skills are often more highly prized in the workplace. So, why exactly do we think skills will trump degrees in 2024?


The pace of change in industries today is incredibly fast. Technological advancements, market shifts, and global trends are constantly reshaping the professional landscape. Therefore, employers look for individuals who can quickly adapt and possess the right skills to navigate these changes. Unlike degrees, which may become outdated over time, skills are versatile and can be continually honed and updated to meet evolving demands.

Performance Over Pedigree

Employers are now more interested in how well you can perform in a specific role rather than just focusing on your academic achievements. Though a degree is a good indicator of academic success, it doesn't guarantee that you are competent in a particular job. Employers are looking for employees who can provide solutions, deliver results, and contribute positively to the organization. Skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and leadership are highly valued, whether they were learned through formal education or practical experience.

Cost-Efficiency for Employers and Individuals

It can be expensive to get a degree, with many years of academic study and student loans. However, it's becoming easier and more affordable to acquire new skills with the rise of online courses, workshops and other self-paced learning resources. This makes it possible for people to develop skills relevant to their interests and careers without expensive formal education. Employers also benefit from this trend, as they can hire skilled workers without the expense of formal education.

Inclusivity and diversifying your workforce

Relying only on degrees to measure qualification can unintentionally maintain systemic barriers to entry, such as socioeconomic disparities and institutional biases. Prioritizing skills-based hiring promotes diversity and inclusivity by creating opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds to demonstrate their abilities and potential. Skills are inherently meritocratic, enabling employers to evaluate candidates based on their capabilities rather than their academic credentials.

Lifelong Learning and Continuous Improvement

Continuous skill development is crucial in a world where industries are constantly evolving and new challenges emerge frequently. Learning should be a lifelong process, rather than a finite achievement like a degree. Unlike degrees, skills are dynamic and can be improved through practice, feedback, and deliberate effort. Employers highly value candidates who have a growth mindset and are committed to personal and professional development.

While degrees still hold value in certain contexts, skills are the currency of success in today's workplace. Employers who recognise the importance of practical abilities and competencies will see their organisations foster innovation, diversity, and performance excellence.

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