Yes its very important to hoenstly follow the learning curve without jumping to shortcuts of getting higher version. Every higher version has just few more features added. Its required to make your hands dirty with the lower versions and master it. Many times newly released versions have bugs too and I would say if good and dedicated time is spent on lower versions, it doesnt take much time to master the higher versions too.
I have seen too many people running from version to version and language to language to the point were they are profficient in NOTHING!
I would rather have someone who has taken years to learn one version to perfection than be up on the latest. I want people who can do things. One year's experience in one version and then starting over means you only have one year's experience.
You should be paid appropriately.
Be a master at something before you run to the next version. Not every upgrade is useful. Espicially if the old version does most of what you need.