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February 28, 2024

Non graduates are breaking through ‘paper ceiling’ to secure media jobs

Degrees no longer dominate in a shifting media landscape. Employers such as Google and the BBC prioritise skills over qualifications.

By Aoibhinn McBride

As any seasoned media professional knows only too well, often the best and most career-defining lessons have been learned in the field (be that newsroom, TV studio or boardroom) and not in a university library.

But thanks to the advent of blogs and social media, and the subsequent changing face of digital media, those starting out have been able to side-step conventional routes and take control of their own career paths without going down the well-trodden path of undertaking a university degree, followed by work experience or an internship, before securing their first job.

And it seems employers are taking note. According to a recent Gartner report on the future of work trends, the “paper ceiling” is crumbling and degrees are no longer the number one must-have. Instead, employers are looking beyond qualifications and focusing on skill-based hiring instead.

Large organisations including Google, Delta Airlines, Zoho and Accenture have already removed degree requirements from job postings to attract talent that might not fit the traditional mould.

This correlates with recent research conducted by the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ (NCTJ), which established that despite the fact that 91% of new entrants into the profession possess a degree, “the continuing increase in the ‘graduatisation’ of journalism could be acting against attempts to increase some aspects of diversity”.

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Moving towards a more progressive future?

Here in the UK, News UK, publisher of The Times, The Sun and Times Radio, has launched a paid apprenticeship programme with the NCTJ to facilitate on-the-job training, mentoring and coaching in place of a university degree, however entrants must complete a NCTJ diploma.

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The BBC also offers a pathway into the media that eschews the traditional university degree, with its website stipulating, “Don’t worry if you don’t have extensive experience, it’s your passion and values we are interested in”.

Similarly, Sky offers hands-on apprenticeships that don’t require a university degree.

Even if you’re more established in your career, this shift towards skill-based hiring is making its presence felt across the wider media landscape and with soft skills coming more sharply into focus in recent years.

The World Economic Forum predicts that analytic and creative thinking, along with resilience will be the top workplace skills of the future so it’s never been more prudent to focus on how you can adapt your existing experience to buffer your career path.

However, if you feel as though you’ve outgrown your current position or are worried your employer is a couple of clicks away from outsourcing your work to AI, it could be time to look for a new opportunity.

If that is the case, make the Press Gazette Job Board your first port of call. It features thousands of media jobs, such as the three below.

Deputy News Editor, News UK, London

The Sunday Times is hiring a Deputy News Editor to work with its team of award-winning reporters to deliver brilliant news stories to its digital and print platforms. Day-to-day you’ll successfully manage relationships with other departments across the newsroom, conceive, commission and edit exclusive agenda-setting stories, use SEO tools to guide commissioning and construct headlines, and attend news conferences. No education qualification is listed as a requirement, though experience working on a news desk or as a senior reporter at national level is a must, as is precise commissioning and copy-editing skills. Apply here.

Executive Director of Communications, University of Southampton, Southampton

As Executive Director of Communications you will play a central role in enhancing the university’s global influence, leading the development of creative approaches to share the university’s stories and news, developing a robust communications strategic plan aligned with the university’s strategy, and fostering a strong sense of unity within the community. See the full job description here.

Editorial Board Member, IPSO, London

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is currently seeking one new Editorial Board Member. The board is responsible for oversight of IPSO and as such, you will help set the vision and strategic direction of the organisation, provide oversight of IPSO’s activities, finances and operations, ensuring that it performs effectively and efficiently, show leadership and provide oversight of its work to become an ever more inclusive organisation that is open, accessible, and fair, and provide support and constructive challenge to the leadership team. If this sounds like the kind of opportunity you’ve been looking for, you can find more information here.

Start your new year with a new job via the Press Gazette Job Board

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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