What do employers really want in an employee: experience or a degree?

The latest Absolute IT Tech Employer Insight report has just been released and shows that when it comes to selecting staff, hands-on experience is valued more than twice as much as a university degree by employers in both the public and the private sectors.

The report, which surveys over 400 tech employers, found that tech employers view staff retention and attraction as their number one business challenge for the year ahead, thanks to almost a decade of rapid growth in the New Zealand ICT sector (9% per annum since 2008).

“What is surprising is that tech employers in New Zealand rate hands-on experience as the most valuable skill to consider when hiring and that a university degree is rated as far less valuable,” says Grant Burley, director, Absolute IT.

Private sector tech employers rate hands-on experience highest (49%) followed by a university degree (19%) and industry specific training coming in third (19%). In the public sector a university degree comes in last (19%) with hands-on experience (42%) and industry specific training (27%) the two highest rated skills.

“But that doesn’t mean that a degree is not worth the effort as our previous research has shown that IT professionals with ten years’ experience and a degree can earn upwards of 12% more than those without a degree, and this gap increases as their careers progress,” says Burley.

The report also found a perceived shortage of women in the IT sector, with 26% of tech employers saying that the gender gap is an issue for their organisation.

Highlights from the report: 49% of private sector tech employers rate experience above university degree as the most valuable skill when hiring

  • 26% says that the gender gap is an issue for their organisation
  • 61% expect to see a rise in digital roles in 2016 within their business
  • 95% of tech employers are either planning to give their staff a pay increase, or are undecided

More details from the report below.