LBS researcher Dr Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh examined the experience of graduates from China who returned to China to seek employment after completing tertiary education at La Trobe University. Her research found that students from China felt that having studied at La Trobe University made them more employable in China.

The first study

Jasvir conducted in-depth interviews with 19 Chinese alumni from La Trobe University who had returned to China to work. About 70 to 80% of Chinese international students studying in Australia return to their home country to seek employment opportunities (ICEF Monitor, 2016) and previous research has suggested that Chinese employers prefer local graduates. However, Jasvir’s study found that when it comes to having necessary work-ready skills such as leadership, communications and influencing skills, those who have spent some time studying in Australia have the upper hand.

Jasvir mentioned that the Chinese graduates she interviewed were “impressed with the level of investment Australian universities like La Trobe are making into developing international students’ employability skills through part-time work experiences at La Trobe or outside the campus, volunteering opportunities and internships.”

“Programs such as La Trobe’s Career Ready Advantage, designed with Australia’s leading employers to help develop more employable graduates, are clearly working”

Dr Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh

The interviewed graduates also said that having an overseas Masters’ degree was particularly beneficial when it came to getting jobs in China, and some had studied further to obtain chartered certification such as Chartered Professional Accounting.

The second study

Jasvir conducted a second study looking at the experience of international students studying in China, with a special focus on development of employability skills. Jasvir interviewed 30 international students, largely from Africa and Malaysia, who had studied at the highly-ranked Wuhan and Tsinghua universities in China. “While these two prestigious Chinese universities score high in terms of academic results, the students I interviewed recognised that content knowledge is not enough”, said Jasvir. Students were expected to find their own work placements and were given little support by the university support services. Thus, in contrast to Australian universities, the second study found that Chinese universities do not place much emphasis on developing employability skills of international students.

Producing employable graduates

Both of Jasvir’s studies have shown that Chinese universities need to increase their focus on helping domestic and international students develop the necessary skills required for entering the competitive and rapidly changing world of work. The good news is that La Trobe University is getting it right when it comes to producing employable graduates!

Dr Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh is an award-winning lecturer at the LBS’ Department of Management, Sport and Tourism. Jasvir has been researching on academic success, teaching and learning as well as employability issues relating to international students from Malaysia, Australia and China. Jasvir has received several top La Trobe University grants and has published in quality higher education journals as well as presented her work worldwide.

This blog was originally published by LTU News.