Many scholars and practitioners have been interested in understanding the relationship between education and performance at work. From the onset, we must acknowledge that the term performance is a very difficult term to define and measure. As such, the task of trying to establish a relationship between education and job performance is even more difficult.
A university graduate holding a bachelor’s or master's degree has been a sought commodity on the job market. To the general public, the assumption is that more schooling means better jobs (Glenn and Taylor 1984). It is assumed also, that individuals with a master's degree generally perform better in a managerial position than do those with a bachelor's degree, and that the individuals with a business degree will perform better in a managerial position than do those with a non-business degree. However, no significant relationship has been found between the managers' college education and their performance at work.
Education has almost no association with job performance according to The Relevance and Usefulness of Selection Approaches in Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Consequences of 100 Years of Research Findings. In reality, education offers a predictive ability of only 1%. According to the Predictive index, whether a resume says Yale or a community college, the school attended by an applicant tells us little about how they are going to perform at the job. This is not to say that competences are not learnt or that basic information is not gained from education, in actual fact they are.
There is, however, an assumption that education provides the training and experience required for job performance. It does not. Education, in general, is, in fact, the worst indicator of job performance than the actual training and experience of an applicant, this is according to the Predicive Index. In short, a good education is not equal to a good worker. Clearly, we believe that there is a connection between work and education, in other words, a good education is equivalent to good work. The truth is that this conviction is more than anything else cultural conditioning. People say one will perform well if they graduated from an accredited institution.
It is important to predict work performance. That is what we try to do whenever we recruit someone. As we read resumes, we search for someone we think is going to be successful based on what their background is. We judge a nominee (in our heads), based on what they studied. Nevertheless, instead of assuming education predicts job performance, it is important to look a little deeper and ask some questions.
Apart from adhering to the false assumption that education is a great predictor of job performance, we can get a much clearer idea of the probability of applicants excelling in their jobs with what psychologists call general cognitive capacity (CGA). Cognitive ability can be assessed, and can, therefore, have predictive potential. In fact, cognitive ability is considered by many IO psychologists to be the single best predictor of job performance.
Combining verbal tests with behavioral reviews and formal interviews, the ability of an organization to predict job performance of an applicant increases to 58 percent! This is a huge jump from the 1% we received from education. To sum up, the very thing that many hiring managers focus on most— education — is a terrible predictor of success. A much astute way to assess candidates is to assess their behavioral drives and cognitive ability.
However in the case of the Social Security Commission in Namibia (SSC), Overall, the study's findings indicated that educational qualifications play a significant role in job performance. The higher the standard of education, the more impact education and skills have on job performance. As such, the ability of people to comprehend and use advanced technology is determined by their level of education. The educated workers tend to be more open to receiving instructions and doing new tasks and easily adopt new technology, which increases their ability to innovate and improve job performance.
Nonetheless. the main factors considered to limit the positive effect of educational qualifications on job performance at the workplace include the quality of the work environment, organisational structure and processes, the assignment of employees in posts that did not match their qualifications and the lack of incentive systems. The results have important policy implications in that they indicate the need for interventions that can improve the positive effect on job performance of education qualifications. Respondents proposed some steps that could be used to tackle these issues and improve the positive effect of education on employee efficiency. Most referred to the need for improvements in the approval framework and procedures of the organisation, while also recognizing the importance of offering work-related opportunities to staff with educational qualifications through an efficient performance management program.
Training is not a criterion of selection for entry-level jobs. Also grade and academic achievement or level of schooling is not an important indicator for entry-level jobs. However, certain educational metrics and skills are used to recruit workers from entry-level jobs or from the external market for top-level jobs. When recruiting for internal labor market jobs, educational qualifications such as being a graduate of high school graduate, math, language, and reasoning skills are essential and are used as requirements, but grades and academic achievement in school are not physical strength.
In conclusion, educational qualifications do not have a significant effect on job performance as studies have shown that there is little to no correlation between educational qualifications and job performance. However, educational qualifications indirectly influence the ability of an employee to perform well on the job as educated workers tend to be more open to receiving instructions, doing new tasks and they easily adopt new technology. This, in turn, increases their ability to innovate and improve job performance.
- Ariss, Sonny S., and Sherman A. Timmins. “Employee Education and Job Performance: Does Education Matter?” Public Personnel Management, vol. 18, no. 1, 22 Mar. 1989, p. 1, www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-7519601/employee-education-and-job-performance-does-education.
- “How Good Is Education at Predicting Job Performance?” The Predictive Index, 3 Oct. 2017, www.predictiveindex.com/blog/how-good-is-education-at-predicting-job-performance/. Accessed 2 Mar. 2020.
Ifeoma is a Business Analytics and Research Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.
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