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Which is more important; level of education or years of experience?

Recently an institution I work with has adapted a "talent management" system of determining a person's pay scale, title, etc. Many people who have held a job for years may have their jobs "down-graded" due to lack of educational degrees even though they are top in their fields with 15 or more years of experience. In a talent management approach, which is more important; talent gained through education or talent gained through years of doing the job?

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    May 18 2013: Education is a very important measure used to determine a person's capability. But it is also very bad, because you will never really know how to do something until you start putting your hands on it and start doing it! Years of experience on the other hand are both literal and experience combined.

    For example, I am a Brazilian, and I lived in Brazil for 15 years before I came to the U.S as an exchange student, but I took English classes since I was 5. I have a International degree (not a Bachelor's degree) in English, and scored 101 points out of 120 in a TOEFL exam. And as soon as I arrived in the U.S and started "living" the English language, I did not know how to use it, my accent was bad, I had to think for a while before I spoke. So what happened to all the knowledge that I acquired over all those years? I don't really know, it took me around 7 months to become fluent in English.
    Could I have learned English without having all those years of education? Probably, but I also recognize that as soon as a put the pieces together (education and experience) it became a perfect gear box. And as I just told you, I did not really master the English language until I became experienced on it.

    I believe that the major factor of determining someone's skill level should be the experience, because education is, at least on a foreign language section, just an aid to what is really going to matter.

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