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Tech without tertiary?

By Deborah Miller, Synthesis Talent Acquisition Specialist

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is undeniably changing the way careers are initiated, fostered and sculpted, specifically the way we as workforce specialists should be viewing applicants hoping to join our technological teams and the thought disruption required in hiring in technology.

Wikipedia defines the Fourth Industrial Revolution as “the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology, in addition to large-scale machine-to-machine communication and the internet of things, which are integrated for increased automation, improved communication and self-monitoring, and the production of smart machines that can analyse and diagnose issues without the need for human intervention”.

Prior to the onset of the 4IR, the youth were encouraged to follow a relatively linear academic trajectory where formal tertiary education was encouraged, sometimes somewhat forcibly, by a prior generation. This generation believed that only on the successful completion of a formal qualification would one be considered for the profession of choice. A formal degree equated to long-term prosperity and the two were not mutually exclusive.

Are we witnessing an outdated paradigm being disrupted and challenged, mostly due to available online academic platforms?

Much like the ever diminishing “on-prem” server, the world has begun opposing the ideology that a qualification equates to competence. In stark contrast rather, modernisation dictates that organisations appoint personnel who present with the requisite skills, irrespective of the degrees (or lack thereof) under an applicants’ proverbial belt. Synthesis Software Technologies perpetually disrupts the status quo, not only in the technology we embrace, align with, and implement, but additionally when selecting new members for our team. The results of which translate to our most pioneering and forward-thinking members who present without the once non-negotiable certifications.

Naturally, we respectfully acknowledge, encourage and celebrate academic accolades. We remain open-minded in our true entrepreneurial spirit, in which we see potential employees, holistically, and the passion that has driven them to spend countless hours upskilling in your own capacity. We at Synthesis adhere wholeheartedly to a ‘ladder-less’, non-hierarchical view where a completed degree is certainly testament to determination and tenacity but is by no means, the only measure of competency and or/ persistence.  We place great emphasis on reviewing past performance in the form of websites built, applications developed, and certifications obtained via online academic portals such as Pluralsight, Udemy and AWS, to name a few.

Previously, it was common practice to promote and remunerate an individual based on the years they had spent steadily climbing a static corporate ladder. This same archaic paradigm doesn’t fairly accommodate for the intellectually gifted aspirant technologist who has dedicated months reverse engineering the most complex of code outside of the confines of a lecture hall. As active participants in the 4IR, and as technological enablers, Synthesis has adopted a significant shift in paradigm to successfully align with the innovation that technology presents, which means that jobs should be awarded to those most likely to create impactful and intelligent solutions, despite their individual circumstances which may or may not have afforded them the opportunity to formally graduate with distinction.

While my aim is not to trivialise or downplay the importance of a formal qualification, nor to imply that there aren’t undisputedly numerous professions which necessitate the completion of same, (I, for one, would feel somewhat uneased at the thought of consulting with a self-taught surgeon), I am excited by the recent years which have witnessed a surge of brilliant self-taught engineers, and the like, who have fully utilised the wealth of accessible information at their code constructing fingertips. These candidates who have upskilled and mastered their craft on their own accord, should be viewed with the same esteem when compared to their counterparts who present with a similar skillset and a supplementary degree resulting in a more level playing field, metaphorically speaking.

At Synthesis, we continue to encourage all those intrigued by tech to persist on their self-guided journey into the realm of innovation. We recognise you, we salute you and we hope to welcome you through our front door, where we are united by our own individual diversity and love for everything ‘bleeding edge’ – technical expertise is welcome in our ‘ladder-less’ community, and coffee is always on the house, irrespective of the pieces of paper you may or may not possess.