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Would you hire a non-graduate over a Graduate or vice-versa?

Posted on: September 5th, 2016 by The Moderator 4 Comments

Welcome to the Octagon

The Octagon: We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end at 5pm (1 Hour). We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do ?

Gbenga: I’m Gbenga Totoyi. Head, People & Process for L5lab – a Tech firm with interest in Venture Creation and Funding across Africa. I’m deeply interested in helping folks resolve their career related challenges.

Debola: I’m Adebola Olomo – MD Deefrent Limited (Digital Agency – Web & Online PR/Marketing) nice to be here.

Ope: Hello guys, this is Ope. I’m a growth strategist with D’mastermind. We enable businesses grow.

Ibrahim: Good afternoon all. I’m Ibrahim Fearon, Managing Partner 1StepAhead Consultants. We do HR consulting, recruitment, vocational education for youth, and training.

Yvonne: Hello everyone, I’m Yvonne Anakwe, i lead Procurement,Travels and Logistics and Office Management at Fbn Capital

Bankole: Hi, I’m Bankole Ojo-Medubi. Managing Partner at Westwood Works. I’m an architect who specializes in woodwork and shipping container construction. Also COO at Fashion For Charity.

Demola: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, my name is Demola Adeyemo,  I worked as a HR executive @Gr8an and studying an action learning MBA and focusing on HR. Good to be here.

The Octagon: Thanks for the introductions. Let’s Begin.

There has been the talk about high unemployment in Nigeria in spite of the number of graduates from our higher institutions for a few years now. This has been attributed to two factors; high pay demands vis-à-vis low returns in business and the qualification of hands for available roles. Employers seek people who will fit with their company strategy and more importantly deliver the sort of value that will ensure the organization is profitable. Amidst these challenges more and more business owners are now faced with the question of hiring a graduate or non-graduate for value sake.

Some people are of the opinion that the academic setting is an artificial place where people are highly trained to succeed only in a specific environment. At the end of the day, people with a college degree are far more highly employed and make more money than those who don’t graduate.

What are the biggest challenges employers of businesses face in Nigeria today? Would you hire a non-graduate over a Graduate or vice-versa? Why? Would you agree with the school of thought that so many Nigerian organizations are seeking over qualified employees? Should industry pricing determine salary structure or should this be determined by each organization?

Gbenga: You can’t take away Industry pricing in certain sectors e.g Banks but, then more and more organizations are reviewing their peculiar talents, and their plans to stay afloat through these tough times. Organizational needs will always be different per time hence, the need to approach Talent Management differently – from type to cost, training and the likes. Personally, I will hire a non-graduate for ‘specific roles’ where I know they fit in or offer more value.

Debola: Some job roles allow for skill quest over degree but yet I will expect them to finish getting a degree while working. But will hire a skilled programmer with no formal degree over a graduate with lesser skill or passion. I believe the biggest challenge employers face is actually finding the right talent to fit dynamic new systems of business whilst using old formats of selection. But the crop of graduates these days though…..

Bankole: The reality for me, is that I have little choice in the matter. Graduates are very scarce in my line of work.

Ibrahim: Industry pricing as Gbenga said can’t be taken away from certain sectors.. However in my opinion I have employed a lot of non graduates for their passion, drive and have turned out to be of better value than graduates. However for organizations, Its all about fit, managing talent to ensure results are delivered. Graduates these days are struggling because we have half baked teachers who have no clue at all.

Gbenga: Half baked teachers in unapproved schools teaching courses that are no longer needed in the marketplace. I doubt if our universities and the associated elements see what the real need/focus of higher education should be about. Sure we all know a few who see it purely as money centres or places of pleasure/fun with the younger generation.

Demola: Would I hire a graduate or a non graduate? I can hire a non graduate that meets particular criteria as pertains to the job description and the strategic directions of the company. However this decision would be dependent on several background factors.

Ope:  I think the main point for me is, I need to get people who can add value to my organisation. Self starters, people who can think, plan and also execute. The question is do our universities produce these quality of people. Maybe, maybe not. While I do not rule out education as a bedrock for success in career, organisations of today need more than just having a degree for the sake of having one.

Bankole: In a previous, octagon conversation, someone said we have a generation of strategists and no implementers. But,  we also have a large untapped resource of millions of people that are our low skilled workers that have been totally ignored by the system.

Demola: But is it the graduates fault or the lecturers fault? I think our systems are stagnant whilst the business topography is rapidly changing always.

Ibrahim: Demola, The buck lies with leadership. How many professors do we have yet our educational system is comatose, what is the government doing to improve where we are today? Reason I say government is because unemployment levels 16-30 are ridiculous. In Kaduna state its 87%. Now tell me will anyone be willing to take on some of these youth who are tomorrows future? There needs to be a stronger emphasis on education in our businesses so that there’s a trickle down effect.

Gbenga: Demola, Great point on the stagnation..which is why I strongly believe, the onus is on young adults to wake up to the realities of the Marketplace and adjust asap. In my line of work though, I’ll rather put the Leadership debate at the foot of young adults – government all over the world is overwhelmed and can’t afford to ‘fix everything’.

Yvonne: For me it all boils down to the industry. Depending on what line of business I will employ either. Industry and role determines who to employ, I mean if you are employing a Doctor, it better be one who went to college. Some roles do need some sort of formal education. In the Industry where I work, which is Financial, about 80% of the roles there require you have more than a 1st degree plus experience and one can’t dispute that. To be honest guys higher education adds some Polish and finesse to a workers skill. I’ve seen it over and over again. Education is very important. It’s best they have some degree, at least it puts some structure to their passion, but I will take the skill and passion if good, but yet encourage education.

Bankole: True. But a lot of graduates aren’t ready to learn the workers skill, so there’s nothing to lay the polish and finesse over.

Yvonne: Hey Bankole, that is where training and motivating the staff comes to play.

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4 Responses

  1. Christycole says:

    It’s been insightful reading through some of the comments above. I absolutely would hire skill over paper certifications any day. They simply cannot be depended on, especially in our society. I receive a significant number of resumes daily. One stood out last Monday. The applicant claimed he had a 2-1 from OAU. But, his cover letter was woeful. Totally incomprehensible!

    • Demola Adeyemo says:

      ChristyCole I totally understand where you are coming from, the challenges we face in our nation are quite daunting really and solutions are not always as straight forward as they seem. I mean there are probably too many factors responsible for a 2.1 student who can’t write a decent cover letter.

  2. Shola says:

    I will hire non-graduate over graduate in Nigeria simply because the calibre of graduates i see these days are just questionable.

    Whereas a non-graduate who started working right after high school has many more years if experience as an employee and real life challenges than a fresh graduate. Besides, the non-graduate’s attitude and committment is such that can’t be compared because he/she is aware they have no education to fall back on…they will rely strictly on acquired skill and perseverance

  3. 'Femi Akinseye says:

    Although I believe that having a degree means, to a large extent, that the individual has displayed a high level of discipline and focus(especially if things like CGPA are a consideration), and hiring that sort of individual should mean that you can rest assured that you don’t have to do much work to get the perfect employee, the reality is, like someone mentioned above, that most of the things being taught in Nigerian universities are irrelevant to the industry, therefore such an individual might not have learnt the required skills door optimal performance in the industry.

    With that said, I believe that what matters most is the skill set and whomever has those. If you can find that fit in a graduate, you’re lucky. If not, you should be ready to settle for individuals without these fancy university degrees but can add real value to your organization. You should encourage them to get a degree while working too, at least to test their level of discipline and endurance.

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