THE majority (63%) of SME owners in the UK believe that a university degree is becoming increasingly devalued, according to a recent poll.

Of that number, over two fifths believe that university degrees are now so commonplace that they have lost some of their meaning, while over a third say there is no substitute for practical experience.

David Thomson
David Thomson

The figures come from the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey that canvasses the opinion of business owners and managers from a range of sectors across the UK and Ireland.

CEO of Close Brothers Invoice Finance, David Thomson, said: “It may not come as a surprise to some that so many employers think that a university education is becoming less valuable.

“Despite the fact that the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) recorded the highest level of entrants to UK universities last year with almost 496,000 students beginning full-time undergraduate courses, the value of third level education is becoming a subject for debate.

“Our statistics seem to suggest that many employers are beginning to give greater recognition to practical, hands on experience, arguably ahead of academic achievement.”

The survey found that almost two fifths of bosses say they do not consider a degree to be important at all when it comes to hiring new staff members.

“Given that SMEs account for 99.9% of all private sector businesses and collectively employ 14.4 million people in the UK, it is perhaps time for young people to think differently about their career path.

“Of course, it depends on your chosen career, but the skills potential employers are looking for can often be developed in many ways,” added Mr Thomson.

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