Mika Launikari


Graduate employability and the ever internationalising world of work

Published on and modified on Permalink

Given the shift towards the service-oriented knowledge and interaction economy, where the work environments will be increasingly multicultural and multinational, there is an intensified demand for people, who are able to operate flawlessly in culturally diverse contexts. Also the recent McKinsey research report Diversity matters (2014) pinpoints the fact that companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially. To this end, higher education institutions in Finland and elsewhere are making efforts to prepare their students for global citizenship as well as for the international labour market.

At least to a certain extent, skills required to function well in an international work environment can be obtained during higher education studies through mobility experiences in other countries and through real-life exposure to international academic disciplines, internships, research, languages, study trips abroad and other forms of intercultural engagement. An Australian qualitative study (2010) revealed that students, academics and employers identified evident connections between international experience and employability. The research outcomes were associated with the creation of networks, opportunities for experiential learning, improvement of language skills and the development of soft skills linked to cultural awareness, personal characteristics and processes of thinking.

This clearly indicates that international and multicultural competences are an integral element of one’s personal employability (also see e.g. Teichler 2011: Employability and mobility of bachelor graduates in Europe). Cedefop (2009) has defined employability as the combination of factors enabling individuals to progress towards or get into employment, to stay in employment and to progress during career. This definition is applicable to the local, regional, national and international labour markets. So, in case we wish to see more people in the future participating in international labour mobility and acquiring related intercultural competences, we have to start exploring and analysing in further details, how higher education institutions more systematically could contribute to the development of graduate employability in relation to the internationalisation of working life.

All these issues were touched upon in the lecture that I gave in early February 2015 to Finnish and foreign degree students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Espoo, Finland. The main aim of the lecture was to raise awareness of the demands of the global labour market as well as to highlight different ways to increase one’s own intercultural sensitivity. And finally, do not miss out this online article about the future world of work.