IIE today announced a new study that demonstrates links between international educational experience and the critical skills needed for employment in today’s workforce. The study shows that studying abroad for longer periods of time has a high impact on subsequent job offers and career advancement as well as the development of foreign language and communication skills.
Gaining an Employment Edge: The Impact of Study Abroad on 21st Century Skills & Career Prospects, released at the IIE Summit on Generation Study Abroad in Washington, DC found that studying abroad has an overall positive impact on the development of a wide range of job skills, expands career possibilities, and has a long-term impact on career progression and promotion.
The study was based on a survey of more than 4,500 individuals who participated in short-term mobility since the 1999-2000 academic year. Among the participants, 30 individuals were selected for more in-depth interviews, which also contributed to the report.
More than half of survey respondents believe that study abroad helped them get a job, and longer-term study abroad experiences had a higher impact on subsequent job offers.
For those who were unsure whether study abroad helped them in employment, they still believed that study abroad was useful to their careers, particularly as they were promoted to management-level positions where communication, interpersonal skills, and the ability to understand and work with the difference were key criteria for promotion.
IIE identified 15 soft and hard skills rated as most desired by 21st-century employers. The top five skills, with more than 70% of respondents saying their study abroad experience contributed to a significant degree of improvement, were intercultural skills, curiosity, flexibility/adaptability, confidence, and self-awareness.
In addition, more than 50% noted significant gains in interpersonal and problem-solving skills. To a lesser degree, teamwork, leadership and work ethic were skills that were also reportedly improved through study abroad.
STEM graduates gained significant soft skills outside of their subject during study abroad, and it had a positive effect on their career. Among science majors that went on a program outside of the sciences, 47% reported their study abroad contributed to a job offer, whereas among those who went on a science-focused experience, only 28% reported it did so.