The study unpacked a profound finding, that international graduates had a greater chance of success if they know how to strategically interlink these forms of capital to sell themselves as fully-rounded candidates with broad personal qualities. For instance, their studiousness and persistence could be used as a distinct credit to build identity as a careerist. This image can then be leveraged to establish relationships with “significant others” who create opportunities for them to approach potential employers. The study stresses that out of these forms of capital, international graduates experience most challenges in terms of cultivating the appropriate forms of cultural capital, mainly in the embodied and linguistic form, and this presented barriers to entering different fields. A limited understanding of workplace conventions can cause them a range of employment issues. For instance, they might fail to present as a competitive candidate due to their limited understanding of hidden rules in recruitment expectations. They may also face communication struggles simply due to their inadequate knowledge in finding appropriate daily conversation. The study therefore emphasises that international students need to see the preparation for employability as a long and open journey, and they need to be engaged both inside and outside the university to build and enrich these forms of capital. They then need to be clear about possible career pathways as early as possible to invest in developing and articulating these resources. To prepare international students for this journey, Australian universities need to make a shift in marketing and communicating the role of their education. At the moment, universities are taking the “solo-responsibility approach” which sees study programmes as sufficient for facilitating international students’ preparation for employment — an inadequate approach but empowers the image of universities. It is time for Australian universities to take a “shared-responsibility approach” in which international students are invited to take responsibility for exploring and seeking diverse possibilities for negotiating their employability trajectories. This approach might disempower the current reputation of universities, but it is far more realistic in preparing international students for long-term employment. Figure 1 below summarises resources that support the negotiation of international students’ employability. These include the employability skills taught in university study programmes, the development and utilisation of personal qualities and the activation of students’ agency in using their resources strategically.
The study unpacked a profound finding, that international graduates had a greater chance of success if they know how to strategically interlink these forms of capital to sell themselves as fully-rounded candidates with broad personal qualities.
Dr Thanh Pham is currently a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Education, Monash University, Australia. Thanh has worked in higher education for ten years and is currently researching graduate employability. She has received numerous local and international awards for research in internationalisation of education and graduate employability.
Chris Thompson is an Associate Professor in Chemistry Education with a background in physical chemistry. He has published over 50 papers in the fields of both science education and his native discipline of spectroscopy. At the Faculty of Science, he has focused on curriculum and assessment reform across all year levels, and paid particular attention to the employability of Science Graduates from all disciplines. He currently serves as Associate Dean (Education).
 Australian Bureau of Statistics: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats
 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
 Forms of capital and agency as mediations in negotiating employability of international graduate migrants. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14767724.2019.1583091
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