Recently, we ran a poll to see people’s thoughts about the age-old debate of education vs experience in the construction industry. So, beyond essential education, we asked people in the construction industry, eg. Site Managers, Project Managers, Contract Administrators etc, if they find any value in ongoing formal education or training from an employment perspective or whether they thought experience was worth more.
Education vs experience – poll results
Which of these ‘top-up’ education options are worthwhile to you working in a construction career?
So, as you can see from the results, most people felt they needed post-graduate education to further their construction careers.
And as a summary of the comments to the poll, further education is also viewed as important (albeit combined with experience).
Some comment highlights /reasonings were:
- Further education was seen as needed to obtain senior positions (ie. being a tick in the box, or for meeting artificial intelligence (AI) resume reading requirements
- Lifelong learning is seen as needed to keep abreast of evolving technologies
- How we learn, though, is considered outdated, eg. is an MBA necessary when we have information widely available outside of institutions such as Universities?
- Lastly, it all depends on context, eg. for site-based roles experience wins
Now, let’s address a couple of the myths…
Within construction recruitment, AI is less prevalent than some may think compared to other industries, eg. the IT Industry. For IT recruitment, AI performs a keyword search on resumes because they require specific software or program experience, and if you don’t mention those particular skills, your application can be rejected by AI right at the outset.
But currently, in the construction industry, this type of AI primary screening is not used. So yes, it’s smart to optimise your keywords, but in our view, AI is not something to worry about in the construction industry for at least the next couple of years.
What about fulfilling job descriptions?
Will you get the role just because you hold a Masters compared to someone holding an undergraduate degree? In construction in Australia, this is not so much of an issue by comparison to a country such as Germany. In Australia, with most roles at the senior operational level, a person with an undergraduate degree with more appropriate company and project experience is usually more highly regarded.
It’s safe to say that during the early to mid-stages of your construction career, once you’ve met the mandatory formal qualifications, having extra qualifications is not seen as more important than experience. This changes when you are applying for a more senior corporate construction role, eg. as a CEO or General Manager, then a further qualification, such as an MBA, is still handy to have up your sleeve in the later stages of your career.
Many assume that post-graduate education is the key to meeting your career objectives. However, in the construction industry, if you’re in the early to mid stages of your career, experience and mandatory formal education will see you kick your goals. If you’re in the later stages of your career and have your eyes set on those senior corporate roles of CEO or GM, then an MBA or similar will help you stand out. But until that stage, bite-sized top-up education should suffice and help you make the most of your experience as you progress through your construction career.
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