Chinese employers value graduates who have experience abroad

by Ray Clancy on December 17, 2018

Studying abroad appears to give graduates an edge in the job market in China, particularly if overseas graduates have acquired soft skills, English proficiency and in-demand technical skills, says a new report.

A survey of 350 employers who recruit overseas educated graduates by the British Council has found that those with overseas experience are regarded as having strong advantages in several areas where employers are facing skills gaps.

(Prasit Rodphan/Bigstock.com)

In particular, they are regarded as being more creative, having better interpersonal and communication skills and being stronger at problem solving and analytical thinking.

Employers also saw overseas graduates as better than their local counterparts across a wide range of hard skills, with the strongest advantages in IT skills and digital marketing, according to the research carried out in China.

However, employers did report some disadvantages of overseas educated employees. Some said that local graduates were easier to manage and had better knowledge of the local market and overseas educated employees also have a better range of job opportunities, which could cause their current employers to see them as less loyal.

Other negative effects included being out of China for an extended period of time, lower knowledge of the local market environment, weaker social networks in China and less experience in the Chinese workplace.

Also, some 61% of respondents reported that new hires with local degrees had better knowledge of the local market, while just 16% favoured overseas graduates. A lack of social networks at home can also make it harder to secure jobs in an increasingly competitive market.

Although most employers said they would pay more for an overseas educated candidate, the salary premium is fairly modest. The median salary boost for overseas educated returnees was only 10 to 20% and just 3% of employers said they would pay these candidates more than 40% over what a locally educated employee would earn.

Although returnees may not earn much more than local graduates in the same company, they are more likely to be employed at large multinational companies who tend to pay higher salaries overall. Nevertheless, the survey confirms that a returning graduate is unlikely to receive a high salary immediately after returning to China, and universities should do more to prepare their students for this reality.

‘This new research shows that employers’ attitudes towards UK universities are very positive overall, especially towards postgraduate programmes. Nonetheless, there is room for universities to do more to prepare returnees for the Chinese employment environment,’ said Matt Durnin, author of the report.

Work experience is also seen as a very important factor by employers and almost half of employers identified candidates’ lack of work experience as a difficulty even when filling entry level roles so greater opportunities for internships or other work placements during their course would also help returning Chinese graduates to find a suitable job.

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