Outdated uni degrees come up short for young marketers

14 Jun 2017

  • Thought leadership
  • Digital Marketing

By: Nikola Hopkinson, Content Manager, ADMA

It’s clear that cuts to funding are not the only things threatening the livelihood of universities. Staying relevant in today’s fast paced business environment is proving to be a challenge, with graduates having to top up their pricey degrees with up-to-date short courses in order to find work.

While university fees are set to grow 7.5 per cent by 2021 and graduates will have to start paying back student loans earlier, less expensive, more focused and shorter courses are becoming a much more enticing option for young people.

In an interview with Which50, Angelo Kourtis, President People and Advancement at Western Sydney University, agreed that the nature of the competition for unis is changing.

“I think our competitors are Google, Microsoft and the major corporates who are fighting for the same talent we are,” Kourtis said.

“Quite often they are developing propositions that are much more compelling than us; offering credentials in a much shorter timeframe, much cheaper and with a prospect of a job at the end. When you are a young person looking at a four-year commitment, potentially handing over $60,000 or $70,000 versus a proposition that’s exciting, compelling, global and with a qualification that is recognised by industry.”

Students who go down the degree path are left feeling disappointed, according to a recent survey in the UK. The Intern Tech survey of 2,000 British adults, for instance, revealed that 26 per cent of graduates regretted completing their degrees and 28 per cent believed that the education they received was out-dated.

Students leave university without relevant skills and knowledge to secure work, especially in the marketing and tech industries, often turning to short modular courses to top up their $50-$70K degrees.

As Kourtis points out there are new players in education who are changing the game.

PwC Australia, for instance, has realised that the traditional career path of university, degree, career is no longer relevant in the rapidly changing world of business. As a result, they have developed an apprentice program for High School leavers interested in finance and risk management, called the Higher Apprentice program. Through this program, PwC offers young people the opportunity to earn an income and gain invaluable on-the-job skills, while studying for a Diploma in Business.

Talent acquisition director at PwC, Julie Duncan told the Sydney Morning Herald:

"The future of work is changing and we're looking to hire the skills of the future, not the degrees of the future.”

The future of education

The fourth industrial revolution has brought on a need for quick skills and constant learning, nowhere more so than in the tech and marketing industries. Unfortunately, by the time a graduate has completed a three-year university degree, a large portion of the technological knowledge gained will be outdate or completely redundant.

In the era of personal curation – just think of the content in your inbox or your current playlist on your smartphone – it makes sense that we should be able to choose the path of our education module by module.

The future calls for a fast-paced, skills-focused education system that can match the speed of change within the industry.

Richard Harris, Managing Director of IQ Corporate at ADMA says graduates can have a hard time in today’s fast-paced world of marketing.

“Many companies find it a challenge when hiring new graduates as they lack the skills to be effective straight away. Universities focus on the fundamental principles of marketing, providing young marketers with foundations rather than hands-on, transferrable skills that are crucial in the workforce,” Harris says.

The industry faces a multitude of challenges – the rapid technological changes, skills shortages and the rise of AI in marketing mean tomorrow’s marketers need to equip themselves for a future driven by technology, agility and speed.

Will degrees become redundant?

As universities struggle to keep pace with the rapid changes in the marketing industry, the question of relevance arises.

Will universities become irrelevant and degrees redundant?

Mark O’Connor, Managing Director, Digital, Sales and Marketing at Perceptor Recruitment doesn’t think so.

“Universities won’t become irrelevant. Whilst the days of traditional grad programs are smaller than in the past, tier 1 companies still want the best graduates with a good quality degree,” he says.

But what is new, according to O’Connor, is the increasing appreciation and value given to extra skills, experience and curiosity.

“There is definitely a recognition that extra-curricular activities are very important and are probably more highly valued by employees now than before. Most employers look for evidence of a level of curiosity of thinking and evidence of a desire to succeed, in one form or another,” O’Connor says.

So what does the future look like for universities? Going back may just be the way forward.

“They will probably change what they are offering going forward but in many ways will go back to what they used to offer many years ago… which is developing the ability to think and deal with ambiguity as a primary skill. The thinking is along the lines of “we don’t know what the future looks like so the ability to change and deal with change is an essential attribute.”

This thinking is also reflected in Harris’ recent article on staying competitive in digital marketing, where Harris states:

“The bottom line is that we are facing a time of ongoing change and challenge. While there is uncertainty, there is also tremendous opportunity. Those of us who take control of our skills development and invest time in learning how to learn will ultimately be the marketing leaders of the future.”

IQ’s Career Accelerator Package

At ADMA, we‘ve developed a Career Accelerator Package for recent graduates, interns or those who are new to marketing, to provide the skills necessary to be an effective marketer and kick-start a career.

This introductory online course gives you the basic skills needed currently in the industry including digital marketing, email marketing, social media and copywriting.

Equip yourself with the right skills to get ahead of the game.

Find out more about the Career Accelerator Package now!

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