A new study conducted by the IIE Centre for Academic Mobility Research and Impact was published on 2 October, proving that studying abroad has a direct impact on developing the critical skills needed for employment in today’s workforce.
Based on survey responses from more than 4,500 U.S. college and university alumni at various stages of their careers, IIE reports that study abroad contributes to the development of transferrable skills and positive employment gains, with the impact varying according to programmes’ characteristics, study destinations and the students’ goals. The survey looked at what specific features of study abroad programmes contribute to career success, in order to help educators better develop programmes that prepare students for the global workforce.
For the study, IIE developed a specific list of 15 soft and hard skills drawn from competencies identified as being most desired by 21st century employers and explored their link to study abroad. The largest portion of respondents reported developing a broad range of cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills to a significant degree through study abroad, namely: intercultural skills, curiosity, flexibility and adaptability, confidence, self-awareness, interpersonal skills, communication, problem solving, language, tolerance for ambiguity, and course or major-related knowledge. Teamwork, leadership, and work ethic were also reportedly developed or improved, but less significantly. The only skill that was not significantly developed or improved by studying abroad was technical or software skills, with respondents largely noting that these skills were mostly developed through the academic programmes on their home campus and were not a focus of their study abroad programmes.