Education Vs Lifelong learning
We get educated for two things. One is to acquire the skills required to be financially successful in life. That is the utility value of education. To bring cash flows for life.
The second is to create significance. It is to give signals to employers and the society at large to show that my credentials really matter. More for branding and faster trust building.
In a low trust world, where people hardly trust each other unless you bring in instantly trust-worthy credentials, signaling helps. In a merit-oriented society, skills give huge competitive advantage to you even if you do not bring in credentials.
Skill is like character. Signal is like beauty.
Skill is like user experience. Signal is like user interface.
Both matters. Employers believe in signalling unless you prove otherwise.
But hardcore skills and efforts sustain more than any kind of signaling over a period of time. The power of compounding of your skills works gradually over a period of time.
Signaling can give you instant benefits. You do not need any special introduction in India if you are an IIT and IIM grad. Employers take it as a filter against clutter. If you are a Harvard MBA, MIT Engineer or an Oxford Ph.D., you get huge advantage initially and almost like a precious badge for a lifetime.
Employers take such signals as safest bet because the filtering is done by some great institutions from thousands of aspiring brilliant students.
In India, to get into IIMs is a hard task. Out of 250K students who write Common Admission Test (hardest test to crack in the world), only 3K people get into the prestigious IIMs (A, B, and C) – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Calcutta. It is less than 2% from the brilliant lot. Employers do not need any more validation to hire them for the raw intelligence and their math prowess. They get hired into leadership roles immediately after their course to lead a 40 member team much experienced than them.
Even after your Ivy League education or an IIM program, lifelong learning matters because of the constant changes happening in every area. So people with quick learnability and willingness to learn new things despite all the comforts will thrive.