Today marks the launch of the second State of the Industry survey, available now by request at The topic for this white paper was the correlation between education and experience within procurement departments and the sourcing industry. Of the many observations in the paper, two are relevant to the point I'm about to make. First, both experience and education matter when you're looking at the procurement industry. An overwhelming majority of industry players/survey respondents have more than 11 years in the field, and those in higher leadership roles -- directors, VPs, and C-levels -- are very likely to have at least a four year degree, if not a Masters. Second, the new folks coming in are all coming in with some sort of post-high school degree to their name. What effect that has had on the industry, and how it affects the future can be found in the paper, but it's clear plenty of people heeded the adage "Stay in School".

That adage is a pretty good one to heed, and those looking at their post-Bachelor’s employment prospects (probably not any of you guys, so make your interns read this article) might want to try and stay in school for the considerable future, for two reasons.

First: It turns out the old warning about going to college to avoid flipping burgers the rest of your life isn't exactly true. That, or the value of a Bachelor's degree has become so diluted that the cost of entry-level employment just skyrocketed. Either way, an article alleges that a McDonald's in Massachusetts could now requiring a year+ of experience and a Bachelor’s degree to work as a cashier. To obtain an undergraduate degree in Massachusetts requires two courses each in theology, philosophy, and history, plus language, arts, and math studies. To operate a McDonald's cash register, in comparison, you punch pictures of food items on a touch screen. I know we all sort of imagined a Jetson's-like future where we set around and made a career out of pushing a few buttons all day, but I don't think this is it. I should also point out that punching a McNugget on a touchscreen is easier than an average iPhone game, and my 14-month-old daughter is better at Angry Birds than my degree-holding self will ever be. Anyway.

Second: A just-published study in The Atlantic, ominously titled “How Bad Is the Job Market For College Grads: Your Definitive Guide”, could have been a one-word report by the author consisting of the word “very”, but he instead took an in-depth look at labor statistics from the past five years. While the statistics are bad for degree-holders – 4% of those college grads over 25 are unemployed, joined by 18.2% of “recent” college grads – they are absolutely dismal for high-school grads, showing that twice as many are unemployed and making far less at any corporate position (on average, about 41% less) than their Bachelor’s-holding peers.

So while, in 2013, over 8% of high school graduates over 25 are unemployed, and a college degree may or may not be needed now to punch a digital McRib, in 1993 the employment scene was such that, of those responding to our survey, 13% of directors and 15% of VPs and CEOs were entering the working world with just a high school diploma. While it goes to show that employment expectations have changed over the past 20 years, it also stands that, much like is stated in the white paper, experience and working know-how are just as valuable in the workplace as a degree.

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Nicholas Hamner

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