Too Much Emphasis on Qualifications
Obtaining a degree shows the world that you have a brain and that you can memorise information, hopefully understand that information and possess a certain amount of knowledge to support your future goals and endeavours.
What a degree does not bestow upon you is an automatic entrance to competence and efficiency. A degree rarely shows how well an individual can apply information to everyday situations and how practical an individual is. Nor does it tell anyone how quickly you learn, how resourceful you are or how you will get on in the social world. It seems there is just too much emphasis on qualifications nowadays.
Of course, in this over populated world, employers need something to use as a benchmark and qualifications fill this purpose effectively. Where the current system fails dismally is when people who could learn a skill or are able to do a job very quickly and easily with minimal training are excluded because they do not have the required academic background. In other words, they “do not have a qualification from that University or this specific college”
If Universities offered broader qualifications (perhaps like in the USA where you can obtain a Bachelor of Arts which offers a broad range of subjects), prospective employers would be able to tick the “working brain” and “able to memorise” boxes with ease. They could also provide a more specialised training course that showed graduates the specifics of what they need for their company. Similar to apprenticeships.
I noticed the restrictive aspects gained by obtaining a Degree when I began working as an Assistant Psychologist ten years ago. I was appointed along with two other Assistant Psychologists and we were all educated to a similar level. What became clear quite quickly though was that one of the girls I worked with, despite being similarly educated, had no people skills at all. This turned out to be a rather important aspect of our work as Psychologists need to be able to put others at ease and create rapport.
Part of our job description was to carry out IQ assessments on clients who were being held in a semi-secure unit. These assessments were quite stressful for clients and in order to expose their true potential, it was important to reduce stress as much as possible. If clients were too anxious this could adversely affect their performance. This one Assistant Psychologist would start the session by being abrupt with the client and projecting her own stress and emphasis on deadlines to the client beforehand. There were no instinctual skills to put the client at ease beforehand. Our Clinical Supervisor noticed this and it reinforced my own views about fundamental personalities and how degrees cannot offer reassurance as to a graduate’s resourcefulness, social skills, and inner drive.
Qualifications have their place, there’s no doubt about that but there’s a lot to be said about an individual’s flexibility in their personality and skills and how many people’s skills are not truly appreciated by way of their degree certificates. One of my main frustrations is that the current system hinders career progress and keeps many talented individuals held back because they do not hold a specific qualification. Broader assessments need to be implemented to assess competence and allow more people onto the work ‘playing field’, so to speak.
There is a bottleneck of willing people who want to work but who cannot because of these academic restrictions and this results in a lack of staff. Just look at the NHS – a minimum of six months to wait before seeing a CBT therapist and the waiting lists can be as long as two years, yet there could be many more therapists available if the qualifications obtained could be assessed more broadly.
Each organisation (for example – in the mental health industry: BABCP, BPS, HPC, BACP,UKCP) has their own specific route to being accepted yet many of these qualifications overlap and there are many mental health professionals with the right skills who cannot be accepted by any organisation despite possessing brilliant skills (I am one of them)…this shows that surely something has to change. Regulation has gone too far and is counterproductive. In effect, working against the very principles that they say they are trying to promote – mental health care which is accessible to everyone.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash