The Paradox between Education and Experience

Published on: January 17, 2016

Filled Under: Learner-Focus/Accelerate Learning

Views: 4339

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, and even go back to school to finish a degree we started! This article will focus on how you can put your experience to work and accomplish at least one of your New Year’s resolutions!

As baby boomers, we expected careers to last a life time, just like our parents. But wait, something has happened in the workforce. We are now in the 21st century and a lot has changed. No longer does our work experience mean we have “earned” a lifelong career. Jobs have changed, thus requiring more knowledge, skills and abilities to keep pace with technology and business competition.
In the past, loyalty to the employees meant loyalty to the company. Today, loyalty is a limited resource. Companies today desire a highly educated workforce to meet the challenges and have a workforce that can adapt to change. These are areas that baby boomers and even generation X’ers are not accustomed. Experience from the past may not prepare you for these challenges.
“Talent management” has entered the human resource vernacular. Companies are in competition for talent and it is up to human resources to recruit the talent to meet the organizations strategies. As the labor market continues to shrink (due to the baby boomers retiring) companies have a conundrum. Companies need to replace the experience walking out the door with educated individuals; but there are finite candidates.

I have seen countless baby boomers (born from 1946-1964) and generation X’ers (born 1965-1981) seek information about the college’s business programs. There are generally three reasons why they come: (1) They cannot move ahead in the organization without an education, (2) They have been laid off because they did not have the requisite skills to maintain employment, and (3) They are in an organization that they wish to leave, and they realize that their experience alone won’t land them a job.
Baby boomers and gen X’ers who do not have a formal education or degree should not despair, however. There are options available to take advantage of their experience. One option is to research if there are industry credentials available, such as ones in human resources (PHR/SPHR and SHRM-SCP), quality (ASQ), project management (PMP), and management (CM), to name a few. Each of these have prerequisites to be eligible to take the certification exams. If you don’t meet those prerequisites, there are a few things you can do. You can look for short-term training, (check out education) take a course or two, and/or ask your current employer for the opportunity to work in an area that will help you meet the prerequisites. Some development opportunities do not require prerequisites. As an example, the Institute of Certified Professional Managers ( offers the Foundations of Management (or FoM) certificate program for employees interested in transitioning to a management or supervisory role.
Another option is to explore Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) or credit for prior learning. PLA allows you to earn college credit for learning acquired from work or volunteer experience, professional training, military training, or open source web learning (see This means that you don’t have to start at zero! DCTC offers PLA and has a substantial support network to help adult learners adjust to returning to college after many years. PLA can shorten the amount of time it takes to complete a degree, reduce tuition costs, and minimize the impact of college on the learner’s life (i.e. work/life balance). We also offer accelerated courses in many business programs that reduce class time from the usual full semester terms.

Even if you are in a job that feels secure because the company has taken care of you in the past, it is up to you to look out for your best interest. Don’t wait to encounter an uncomfortable employment situation. Your experience does mean something. Follow through on your New Year’s resolution and go put your experience to work. Graduation can be in your future!


For More Information Contact:
Scott Gunderson at or 651-423-8295.

One Response to The Paradox between Education and Experience

  1. Nice blog, I really like your topic and its really useful in HR management works. appreciate your thoughts

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