Qualifications vs work experience: Which is more valuable?

'We should all be on a continual learning journey. The importance of experience depends on the job'

Qualifications vs work experience: Which is more valuable?

While qualifications demonstrate the ability to commit to finishing something, they are only really relevant if they’re reasonably current, according to Jane Shand, Chief HR manager, Queensland Rugby League.

A business degree majoring in HRM from 10 years ago without decent professional development since then means the candidate will be out of touch and potentially a risk to the organisation.

“We should all be on a continual learning journey. The importance of experience depends on the job,” said Shand.

If the organisation is buying in specialist talent or recruiting for a senior role, it’s key, but it’s less critical for a junior role.

“The best solution is a combination of relevant, recent qualifications with proven capability.”

Linda Carroll, Head of people and culture, Affinity Education Group, added that experience is more important when she’s hiring; however, having both experience and a qualification is ideal.

Indeed, Carroll works in a highly regulated industry which mandates qualifications.

The advice that Carroll would give a hiring manager, or an employee, is to look at the quality of training and ensure that the qualification has come from a reputable training provider.

“If there is an opportunity for a new hire to work towards a qualification in a related field to your industry and apply the learning on the job, then that can be the most meaningful way to learn and upskill your workforce.”

Amy Watts, VP talent & culture, AccorHotels Apartments & Leases, added that the role of HR is to try to guide hiring managers to the best possible candidate based on position requirements and factors influencing the business at the time, including time and budget constraints.

Amy Watts was recognized as one of Australia's most innovative HR leaders. Check out the other candidates who won as the best HR leaders in Australia in Hot List 2023 special report.

“Depending on which is more critical, this may influence the hiring decision towards qualifications or experience,” said Watts.

“I’m most interested in what candidates are doing to continuously adapt and stay relevant in their industry, and how they are improving their skills with the rapid changes in technology and as the expectations of leaders continue to evolve.”

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