Why Study Abroad is the Key to Success in Today’s Job Market

In today’s competitive economy, it takes more than a college degree to convince employers that graduates are ready for the workforce. Employers are looking for graduates who possess both technical knowledge and interpersonal skills, such as the ability to think critically, to work effectively as a member of a team, and to communicate across cultures. In this new, globalized era, study abroad has become one of the most powerful ways to prove to employers that graduates have the skills necessary to become valued members of the workforce. A growing body of research shows that there is a link not only between study abroad and improved graduation rates, but also study abroad and employability.

Considering existing research, study abroad would appear to be a win-win for institutions and students alike. Colleges and universities are under increasing pressure to demonstrate their value by helping students to find a job after they graduate. Students, in turn, hope to see a return on their investment in post-secondary education. Through study abroad, institutions and graduates alike stand to gain ground on some key shared objectives: improved retention and graduation rates, as well as employment outcomes.

Indians now study in 240 countries around the world, the Ministry of External Affairs informed Rajya Sabha last month. Canada, Australia, the UK, and the US remain the top choices, but sizable numbers are also travelling to Uzbekistan, Philippines, Russia, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. The number of students going overseas has increased by a significant 68% in comparison to 444,553 students going abroad in 2021, the data showed. Indian students going abroad for higher education recorded a six-year high in 2022 at 750,365, according to the education ministry data submitted in Parliament.

Total number of students graduating in India are 3,76,70,147 out of which only 7,50,365 go abroad for studies which means only 2% of the graduating students go abroad for studies whereas is 10% for US or any other countries.

Higher education faces unprecedented challenges in the 21st century economy. The historic mission of colleges and universities across the India has been, first and foremost, to produce and communicate knowledge to future generations. That still holds true today, but schools are now increasingly tasked with another important objective – ensuring graduate’s future employability as the global competition for jobs intensifies. Most Indians agree that some form of postsecondary education is the surest path to a remunerative job, putting added weight on job seekers to obtain a degree. While the new emphasis on employability is controversial in some higher education circles, there is no question that students and their parents today want to see a return on their investment in a postsecondary degree or credential. Even as college is perceived to be more necessary than ever, tuition prices have risen dramatically. As a result, obtaining a college degree often requires taking out student loans.

What do you gain by studying abroad?

How Employers View Study Abroad

Although employers commonly look for employees with a postsecondary degree or credential when hiring, many employers say that graduates are leaving school unequipped with the skills necessary to function successfully in the workplace. According to a survey, 96 percent of chief academic officers believe that higher education institutions are very or somewhat effective in preparing students for the workforce. Yet, only 11 percent of business leaders strongly agree. This discrepancy underscores a divide in how employers and schools rate the value of higher education at a time when a postsecondary degree or credential is perceived to be more essential than ever for a remunerative career. In a McKinsey & Company survey of young people and employers in nine countries, nearly 40 percent of employers with entry-level job vacancies said that they could not fill those positions due to a lack of skilled applicants. Another 60 percent said that new graduates were not adequately prepared for the world of work. Employers also reported gaps in technical skills and in soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and punctuality.

Promisingly, there is significant overlap in the skills that study abroad helps cultivate and the skills
that employer say they want in a prospective employee. More than 70 percent of students said that their
study abroad experience helped to significantly develop or improve their intercultural skills, flexibility and adaptability, self-awareness, curiosity, and confidence. In addition, most respondents said that study abroad helped to cultivate their interpersonal, communication, and problem-solving skills to some degree.

The Impact of Study Abroad on 21st Century Skills & Career Prospects

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