Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Experience not required?

There is a depressing trend, in many organizations in the UK, to put cost ahead of all other criteria when it comes to employing staff.

"Surely not!" I hear you cry. "Unbelievable!"

Believe it. I've seen it happening to a dear friend of mine this year. She is immensely talented, highly qualified, massively experienced, deeply committed and hugely successful at what she does. She also costs quite a bit per hour.

So she's being replaced by a new graduate willing to work for about half the salary. The fact the new graduate will not be legally or even mentally able to do half the things my friend did seems to be irrelevant. The need for these things still exists; that need won't be met unless the organization throws its (metaphorical) hands up in defeat and hires an outside consultant. Who will cost more ultimately than my friend ever did.

It's the underlying messages that worry me. Many employers seem to believe qualifications are more important than experience; that theory accurately reflects reality. This is delusional thinking. Basing decisions on faulty paradigms always leads to disaster.

It's also a subtle form of ageism. Someone with twenty-five years experience in a subject is going to be at least twenty-five years older than someone with no experience in that subject. Let's not forget, young people are willing to work for less than more mature people because they are less convinced of their own worth.

'Intern' is a fancy way of saying 'slave'.

An organization that makes its employment decisions based on cost rather than quality is an organization that is doomed. The demise may be a few years coming, because of the nature of the employment sector it's in, but doom is on its way. The sad thing is, the organization of which I write is only one of many, all of them doing the same thing. I foresee calamitous times ahead for us all.

Remember, you heard it here first.


  1. Unfortunately, it's a sad truth, I agree with you Paul.
    It's the same with Romanian IT companies: as soon as an employee has experience > offers more quality > realizes his worth and thus asks to be paid accordingly, he's "released" from his duties and replaced with a fresh-out-of-college paper-qualified and under-paid nobody with no experience whatsoever. It makes my sense of justice rage and foam!

    Theory not only doesn't reflect reality, but what is taught in colleges (especially IT related) has barely anything to do with the reality of a project and the actual tasks you need to perform at work. Ten diplomas are worth way less then 5 years of practice. Hell, less than even 2!

  2. I agree completely, Vero. When I wen to my first job in IT after a training course, my new boss said "You know the stuff you learned on that course? Well, forget that. THIS is how we do things here..."

    Sadly, HR departments and bean counters seem to be overlooking these factors.

  3. Same with Worcester's CCTV system... West Mercia Police, who don't make people redundant, handed the contract over to the private sector. One month down the line and surprise surprise all three Police trained staff (with 30+ years experience between them) have been made redundant. In their place we have one minimum wage security guard with no local knowledge or understanding of Police procedure. But we've saved money - Hoorah! Just don't expect that one person to actually monitor cameras or seize footage as evidence for court because he also has to do site patrols, move furniture for conferences and raise the flag in the civic centre...

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  5. And doubtless clean the loos and walk someone's dog while he's at it. Terrible, isn't it?

    Hey Sarah, my love! How are you? Long time no write! Can we get together for a drink sometime?