Study highlights ‘gap’ between career transition, foreign student employment

Study highlights ‘gap’ between career transition, foreign student employment

The career transition services have not kept pace with the growing number of international foreign students globally amid gaps in the work environment, a study showed.

In a report, the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) said that there was a significant gap between student intentions with respect to post-study work, and actual foreign student employment outcomes after graduation.

It said that about 60-80 percent of foreign students expressed intention to stay in their host countries for the long-term but that the long-term rate is closer to one in four.

Several factors affecting post-study foreign student employment

The IEAA cited factors such as language barrier, lack of exposure to the host countries’ work environment, insufficient professional networks, and lack of awareness of work policies as factors also affecting post-study employments, implicating that there was a need for additional career support for international students.

“Employability support is emerging as a multi-stakeholder approach requiring partnership with local, regional and national governments and across competing institutions,” IEAA said.

“Providing adequate support towards graduate employability is vital to sustaining the long-term enrolment targets set by governments and individual institutions,” it added.

The Australian example

The paper conducted a series of case studies on graduate work outcomes in select study destinations, where Australia figured prominently in the analysis.

Australia, which offers the “485 visa” or the Australian Temporary Graduate Visa, has two streams: the Graduate Work and the Post-Study Work, with the latter being the dominant, according to IEAA.

 “The dominant 485 visa stream is the Post-Study Work stream comprising 84.2% of 485 visa grants in 2017/18, up from 37.5% in 2014/15. Within this stream, the number of visas issued has risen from just over 1,000 in 2013/14 to over 40,000 in 2017/18,” it said.

Dr Ly Thi Tran, in her analysis to the study, said that the challenges international graduates face in attempts to enter the Australian labour market helped them to realise the importance of English language proficiency, work experience, internships and social and professional networks in enabling them to secure employment.

“Therefore, many of them strategically use the ‘more time’ in the host country afforded through the post-study work visa to invest their resources in enhancing their English language proficiency, gaining work experience and expanding their networks,” she said.

She added that permanent residency and temporary post-study work goals benefit foreign students, not because it was a path to migration, but because Australian employers do not hire international students on a temporary-visa.

This means students feel they need to secure permanent residency in order to obtain employment.

Photo: Priscilla Du Preez

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