Interview with Odell on the importance of education

Do Employers Value Education? Perspective from Odell Brewing Company

value of education for OdellEasy Street Wheat. 90 Schilling Ale. 5 Barrel Pale Ale. Cutthroat Porter.  Are you picturing an ice-cold, frosted pint glass bubbling over with a hoppy brew? If so, you are probably lucky enough to live in one of the 10 states Odell Brewing Company distributes to. As part of our new series on unveiling the value of education to employers, we sat down and talked to Corkie Odell, HR Director and Culture Maven for the brewery. She gave us an employer’s perspective on the importance of higher education in hiring philosophies. Odell Brewing Company currently has 75 employees, with a variety of educational backgrounds that range from high school diplomas to engineering degrees from MIT.

“The most important thing a higher education degree gives you is critical thinking skills that you don’t necessarily get from just living and working,” Corkie said, summing up her overall feeling on the importance of higher education. “We have a highly educated workforce [at the brewery], even in the more manual labor positions. We want people to have those critical thinking skills because we want them to be involved with what we’re doing. We want them to understand [their job] and be able to identify the necessary changes in the system and the reasons those changes need to be made.”

Corkie isn’t the only one who sees this as a valuable skill-set.  Critical thinking also takes the No. 1 spot on Forbes Magazine’s list of The 10 Skills That Will Get You Hired in 2013.

In a candid exchange, Corkie felt strongly that those looking into degrees should do a fair amount of research, prior to making a decision. This research ranges from:

  • Employer perception of the institution you are considering;
  • Credit transferability, especially if you believe the degree is a stepping stone to a more advanced one at some point;
  • For those needing school loans, taking into account how the degree will impact your future earning potential compared to what you truly end up paying for it.

When reflecting back on examples seen through her community work, Corkie stated, “I’ve seen how much trouble people have gotten into financially… and then end up with non transferrable credits.” She also believes there are differences between institutions, and stated, “…degrees are very different as far as I’m concerned.” And employer perception does matter, particularly when deciding between candidates with degrees from different institutions. Overall, for Corkie, it is important for individuals to research their school choices, industry, and financial implications prior to making a final decision.

Critical thinking in the workplace, and the role higher education plays in preparing students to think this way,  as well as the pros and cons of degrees from various educational institutions, have been hot button topics in the academic community. We invite you as employers and employees to share your experiences in these areas.

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