Studying Abroad and Graduate Employability

Executive Summary & Introduction

The current graduate labour market is facing challenges of absorbing graduates who lack necessary skills into higher skill jobs. A decade ago, graduates were employed in higher skill jobs contrary to current situation where modern graduate occupations require new and specialized technical expertise. Recent technological developments and globalization have made most jobs to require high level of expertise. Graduates have been finding difficulties in securing jobs in this crowded and highly specialized market. As the graduate population keeps rising as from 2001, graduates securing jobs in low-skilled occupations are also rising, while the reverse is happening for higher skilled occupations (Robertson 2008).

Clearly, the new demands of the labour market have made graduates to flood low-skilled jobs. The global economic recession of 2008 lowered the employment rate of graduates worldwide. Before the recession, recent graduates had been experiencing higher employment rate as compared to post recession era. A study by High Fliers Research in the UK indicated a drastic fall in the rate of recruitment in 2012 as compared to 2011. The greatest fall was in 2009, which was 17.8% and 12.5% in 2010 (Robertson 2008). In 2012/2013, top UK employers admitted to have received more graduate job requests. Most recruiters rely highly on graduates’ past work experiences during the selection process in order to give applicants job positions. The market has been so crowded with high number of graduates entering the job market. Employers have wide perceptions on graduates who might have studied abroad; for example, such graduates easily understand linguistic, social, and cultural differences that exist in two different nations.

Skills and Knowledge Acquired Abroad

Employers believe that graduates who studied abroad have gained numerous and valuable life skills and experience, thus increasing their employability in both the private and public sectors. A research by the British Council found out that graduates studying abroad have high chances of securing jobs, as employers hold that they bring benefits to the UK’s knowledge economy as well as command high level of cultural awareness. Evidently, employers give preference to graduates who studied abroad to those who did not. In their arguments, employers believe that such students have first hand interaction with the international market trends and have high chances of learning another language or vital business, analytical and technical skill while abroad.

These groups of learners comprehend and appreciate divergent ways of working since they possess a global outlook. Studying abroad comes with a lot of flexibility and motivation given that such students can easily work in different environments. The British government acknowledged the need for sponsoring its students for overseas studies; it went ahead to form the new Outward Student Strategy in order to be at par with other European nations like Spain, France and Germany. The Erasmus Program that receives finances from the European Commission has been working towards sponsoring students for overseas studies, thus facilitating mobility among European students. The program is believed to enhance personal development, appreciation of cultures, and development of international perspective.

Learning of foreign language skills and cultural experience give such graduates added advantage since the globalised market requires diverse workforce. Applicants who can interact and communicate freely with clients in different countries have higher chances of securing jobs in UK’s job market. Employers are convinced that graduates who study locally have weak interpersonal skills and are slow to accept change as compared to their counterparts who study abroad. The latter aspect is necessary in the current competitive and dynamic market; firms with flexible and confident employees can easily gain competitive edge over their competitors in the market. Even though, recent publications contend that overseas experience enhances graduates’ job prospects, the choice of course can also affect the employability of an individual (Robertson 2008).

From the aforementioned analysis of graduate labour market, present lucrative courses are marketing, programming, project management, and journalism. On its part, Scotland after conducting in-depth researches concluded that there is a direct connection between employability and studying abroad. In responding to this need, the government launched an initiative to promote students’ outward mobility in order to work freely in the global environment. An employment data from a US Business School showed that 54% of students who studied overseas in the 2000/2001 academic year agreed that the Erasmus Program assisted them in securing their first jobs.

Employability and overseas Studies

Companies like to hire international mobile students given their range of diversity in language and cultural awareness. Overseas programs improve a graduate’s academic credentials hence placing them at advantageous positions to secure high-paid jobs in society. High academic knowledge gained from studying abroad is highly valued in the job marketplace since such persons can easily comprehend technical requirements and objectives of a firm, and take up their roles with high professional responsibility, thereby increasing the rate of achieving the firm’s strategic goals and objectives.

Diversity in the current market is an essential parameter in dealing with different clients from different cultures. Clearly, CEOs desire to hire and retain graduates who have studied abroad with the aim of tapping their wide knowledge and interpersonal skills. Graduates who are ambitious and highly motivated have great chances of pursuing part of their studies overseas. Such graduates develop strong self-confidence and personality; therefore, enabling them to overshadow naïve individuals during job interviews (Pietro n.d.). Since employability and overseas studies have a direct link, countries like Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Britain have come up with initiatives to facilitate the program, and even to enable their graduates remain competitive in the global market.

Jobs for Graduates who studied Abroad

With increasing demand on graduates who studied abroad, companies are likely to absorb such employees in positions of marketing, IT and human resource management. Marketing requires cultural diversity and global understanding; these key job skills are acquired easily from overseas studies. Broad experiences are necessary in approaching clients from diverse cultural backgrounds. Leadership skills acquired through interaction with foreign students and people help foreign graduates in securing human resource management positions (Herren 2008). Globalisation has made most firms to hire employees from other nations across Europe.

Therefore, the HRM ought to understand different cultural dynamics of all employees in order to enhance employees’ cohesion and overall satisfaction. Information and Technology has also been gaining strong entrance into the market with companies going online in their businesses. With online shopping and marketing, internet security remains a vital issue that requires hiring of internationally competent techno savvy graduates. International interactions with foreign markets give such graduates upper hand in securing the aforementioned jobs, as they require international understanding. China believes that its recent economic boom is due to many of its students who go to study in European nations, especially in the UK, and come back with widened perspectives on how to match the developed western nations (Cai n.d.). Undoubtedly, these students have a mixture of Chinese and European culture, thus helping to bridge the wide gap that has existed between these two cultures.

Working in Foreign Countries

Studying in foreign nations increases the probability of a graduate to working in foreign countries by about 20% after graduation. Foreign countries prefer absorbing such graduates given their dynamic nature and skill development that the countries need. When students study in foreign nations, they develop interest in foreign cultures as they meet new people. Some graduates may return to foreign nations to work given the intimate relationship they developed with the foreign students while studying. Studying abroad increases international market mobility among such graduates, as they develop numerous contacts and language skills while overseas. Most graduates decide to work in foreign nations so that they can use productively the language skills they gained while studying abroad. Foreign countries have high chances of absorbing such graduates due to mobility decisions as they have long-run effects on the labour market.

For graduates seeking employment after studying abroad also meet some challenges both in local and foreign countries. In foreign nations, students have difficulties in securing employments due to cultural differences, therefore, they have to adjust on cultural diversity in order to prove worthy to the labour market. Besides, competition from local graduates, who comprehend fully the market dynamics of their country, poses employment challenges to graduates studying overseas (Herren 2008). Securing employment in foreign nations is a daunting mission for graduates studying abroad. In most countries, the government has always given conditions on recruitments by giving priority to locals at the expense of qualified foreigners. Additionally, such countries always require employers to sponsor non-native employees in all their needs.

In Australia, for instance, employers have to meet the costs of recruitment, provide equal terms and conditions, meet the cost of return travel, and meet nomination and sponsorship costs for foreigners that they hire (Nguyen 2012). If the government insists on recruiting locals at the expense of foreigners, companies will have to pay high wages and salaries in order to remain operational. Employers may desire to hire such graduates if they originate from low-wage nations in order to minimise the overall management costs, but the Australian government policy creates a great barrier for such moves. Evidently, these conditions make it difficult for graduates studying abroad to secure jobs in such nations. IBM Company after analysing the Australian wage levels for local vis-a-vis other nations opted to hire foreigners to fill most positions in Australia at the expense of the locals. At the time, Australian wage level was 40% expensive than other nations like India and Bangladesh (Nguyen 2012).

Even if such graduates secure jobs in foreign nations, possibilities of residing in metropolitan areas are minimal given that locals prefer metropolitan areas to up-country areas. Therefore, these graduates mostly get absorbed in non-metropolitan areas like Bourke in Australia. Back in the local countries, over-qualification poses great threat to graduates who studied locally. This makes it difficult for overseas graduates to secure well-paying jobs that matches their qualifications. As a result, such graduates feel de-motivated in seeking employment in their local nation. In China, employers prefer local graduates to foreign-educated Chinese students in some job positions like salespersons as they have greater opportunity in building large networks within China (Cai n.d.). Even though employers have positive opinions and high expectations in hiring graduates who have studied abroad, such graduates do face numerous challenges when securing jobs in foreign nations. Others have gone to the extent of engaging in volunteering services overseas as they wait for employment (Profita n.d.). An example of such option is the Peace Corps that have volunteers in Latin America and Africa.

For people with disabilities who have lower graduation rates than individuals without disabilities, employers still have negative perceptions on them even if they study abroad. Some of employers’ assumptions on this group of persons include inability to meet jobs expectations and high costs for accommodation, especially in the foreign countries (Pietro n.d.). In searching for job vacancies, still graduates with disability remain disadvantaged as compared to the larger population. Even though such graduates have high adaptability to outside nations and high problem solving skills, employers view them as less competent.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Studying overseas increases the employability of graduates not only in the UK, but also world over. Their mobility in international market has placed them ahead of their counterparts who study locally. Since companies are also going global in their operations, they need employees who are well conversant with the international market and cultures. In employing such graduates, foreign nations should consider individuals difference among the applicants in order to offer equal employment opportunities to graduates who have studied abroad. Local countries need to understand the essence of studying abroad as well as the benefits that such graduates bring into the management system. Countries that employ graduates who have studied overseas, in low-paying jobs do not recognise the significance of overseas programmes. Government agencies should also consider the employability rate of the disabled so that instances of discrimination do not arise.

References

Cai, Y n.d., Understanding employers’ perceptions of international graduates: An investigation of the employment prospects of Finnish-educated Chinese graduates in Finnish companies operating in China, Academia.edu. Web.

Herren, J. L 2008, Study abroad employability factors the perceptions of career recruiters, Sage Publishers, London.

Nguyen, M. L 2012, Vietnamese students’ transitions in study abroad programs, Australian Journal of Career Development, vol. 21, no. 3. Web.

Pietro, G. D n.d., Do study abroad programs enhance the employability of graduates?, European Association of Labour Economist. Web.

Profita, M n.d., Finding a Job Abroad for College Grads, About.com Job Searching. Web.

Robertson, L 2008, Studying abroad increases employability, Journal of Scotland Student Newspaper, vol. 22. Web.