Australians believe experience is more important than formal education | Kelly Services Australia

86 per cent of Australians believe experience is more important to career development than formal education

Wednesday, August 10, 2011  

Kelly Global Workforce Index reveals the increasing importance of experience in career progression and recruitment decisions 

86 per cent of Australian employees say that experience has played a more important role in their career development than formal education, according to the latest survey results from Kelly Services. 

Just 12 per cent of respondents say that formal education has been the major driver behind their career development. 

Despite this, 95 per cent of respondents rated upgrading qualifications and skills as either extremely important or important to progressing their career. 

The findings about career choice and career progression are part of the Kelly Global Workforce Index, which obtained the views of approximately 97,000 people in 30 countries, including more than 4,334 in Australia. 

Karen Colfer, managing director, Kelly Services Australia, said, “Employers are not dismissing formal education but are becoming more interested in experience when making recruitment decisions and evaluating employees for career progression. 

“While formal education forms the base of a career, as employees progress in their career life-cycle and gain real world skills and experience the emphasis on formal education reduces proportionally.” 

The Kelly Global Workforce Index found that 64 per cent of respondents believe that when looking for a job the best indicator of your talent to a prospective employer is experience, followed by job interview performance at 22 per cent, references at 10 per cent and education at 4 per cent. 

Colfer said, “Businesses are still finding their feet after facing tough conditions during the last few years, and as a result are revaluating the way they recruit. 

“Tough conditions have meant that businesses were forced to put constraints on training in the workplace and the volume of training has dropped off. This means employers are being presented with a higher number of candidates that have not been engaged in formal education in the past few years. 

“As a result employers are shifting their thinking to evaluate the experience of a person first and foremost. Ultimately experience is currently outweighing ongoing formal education when evaluating candidates. 

“In a perfect world candidates would have both ongoing formal education and experience but in reality this is not always the case.” 

The survey confirmed the common belief that the career-for-life has vanished, with 51 per cent of respondents expecting to switch careers within the next five years.

The main cause, cited by 30 per cent, is the need for improved work-life balance, followed by changing personal interests (28 per cent), and the need for higher income (20 per cent). 

Colfer said, “For an earlier generation, a change of career would have been something of a crisis but today it is seen as a reflection of shifts in demand for different skills and occupations, as well as changing personal interests on the part of employees.

“As individuals take greater control of their careers, there is an increased likelihood that employees will move in and out of the workforce for both professional and lifestyle reasons. Employers and employees will both need to adapt to this new workplace reality, where the smooth career pathway will be the exception rather than the rule,” Colfer said. 

Key Australian findings include: 

  • The industry sectors in which employees will face the greatest likelihood of career change are:

    • travel/leisure at 63 per cent
    • hospitality at 58 per cent
    • utilities at 57 per cent
    • education at 57 per cent.
  • In determining the most important elements in a person’s career, experience or formal education, 86 per cent nominate experience, 12 per cent cite formal education and 2 per cent are undecided.

  • 64 per cent believe that when recruiting, the best indicator of a person’s talent is their work experience, 22 per cent believe it is job interview performance, 10 per cent believe it is job references and 4 per cent believe it is education.

For more information about these survey results and other key global findings, please visit the Kelly Global Workforce Index.  

About the Kelly Global Workforce Index
The Kelly Global Workforce Index is an annual survey revealing opinions about work and the workplace from a generational viewpoint. Approximately 97,000 people from the Americas, APAC and EMEA responded to the 2011 survey with results published on a quarterly basis. Kelly Services was the recipient of a MarCom Platinum Award in 2010 and a Gold Award in 2009 for the Kelly Global Workforce Index in the Research/Study category. 

About Kelly Services
Kelly Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:  KELYA, KELYB) is a leader in providing workforce solutions.  Kelly offers a comprehensive array of outsourcing and consulting services as well as world-class staffing on a temporary, temporary-to-hire and direct-hire basis.  Serving clients around the globe, Kelly provides employment to more than 530,000 employees annually.  Revenue in 2010 was $5 billion.  Visit and connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter. 

Media contact 
Michelle Taylor
Recognition PR
02 9252 2266


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