Professor Jill Blackmore1
1Deakin University, Burwood, Australia
Graduate employability has become a key issue for universities seeking to be distinctive in what are now increasingly competitive international education markets. Research indicates that international students select particular destinations and universities with the intention to gain work in their specialism for at least some time after graduation. But little has been done on how Australian employers view international graduates. In a three-year study investigating the employment outcomes of international students graduating from Australian universities in nursing, engineering and accounting, we interviewed potential employers (multinational, medium and small) regarding their recruitment practices. We found employers considered the credential indicated technical competence while the apparently objective criteria like visa eligibility and English language ability (linguistic capital) often filtered out many international student candidates. Additionally, they valued the dispositions of employability or 21st century ‘soft skills’ considered to be transferrable from education into work. But the final form of distinction was that of whether the applicant would ‘fit in’ to the organisational culture and existing teams, thereby privileging local candidates despite extolling the virtues of diverse workforces.
Professor Jill Blackmore AM is Alfred Deakin Professor at Deakin University on REDI strategic research centre. Her research focuses on leadership and organisational change in higher education, international students, mobility and graduate employability.