22 SES 08 B, Employability and Salaries
Graduate employability has become a major issue for universities and increasingly for international graduates (Brown et al 2010). University systems in Australia, USA, UK are economically reliant on the rapidly expanding international student market, particularly source countries of India and China. This comparison of how accounting credentials and graduates are judged in China and India foregrounds issues of how ‘best fit’ is understood by employers within each context and across middle sized domestic and multinational industries. The notion of best fit is little researched issue that is significant for returning international graduates and for universities seeking to attract international students upon which they are reliant. It also raises issues with regard to discourses about the benefits of greater diversity within the 21st century workplace.
Management discourse and research on workplaces argue that diversity is good:- organisations are better if their employees are more representative of their increasingly diverse client base; a diversity of ideas and experience leads to innovation and improves productivity; and it is the right thing to do in globalized labour markets and multinational organisations in the 21stC seeking talent (Brown and Hesketh 2004). Many middle size and multinational organisations in India and China recruit graduates in accountancy based on the notion of ‘best fit’ (Blackmore and Rahimi 2017). While the processes of determining best fit vary according to context, this cross-national study of employer preferences shows that ‘best fit’ can reduce to homosociability when people recruit people like themselves (Blackmore et al 2006). While homosociality usually relates to bonding in same sex relations at work and leisure (Kanter 1977), this paper develops the notion of homosociability as being the overall preference for sameness based on racial and ethnic as well as gender commonalities. Employers seek individuals with whom they ‘feel more comfortable’ when working in teams and in everyday communication and interactions The result is less racial, ethnic or gender diversity in accounting, a field dominated by males in both countries.
This paper focuses on employer interviews in accountancy, accountancy having the largest concentration of international students in Australian universities. It considers the nature of the field of accounting in each country, the demand for and expectations of graduates, and how multinational, midsized and small enterprise Australian, Chinese and Indian employers understood graduate employability. Bourdieu’s(1986, 1992) theoretical tools of field, habitus, doxa and capitals facilitate understanding why international students chose Australia, their discipline, the particular university and what their employment expectations with regard to becoming ‘global workers’ , the doxa of international education (Brown et al 2010). Was their cultural and economic capital enhanced through their international experience creating a form of social capital that was valued in their home country? How did employer perceptions of graduate employability and their desire for ‘best fit’ impact on returnee’s opportunities for employment?
The paper draws from empirical data from an 18-month study funded by CPA Australia considering how graduate employability is understood and enacted in China and India with particular regard to Australian international graduates. Key questions focused on student expectations of the university to develop employability and the strategies students undertook. A cohort of students self- selected to be tracked over the 2 years post-graduation. This paper focuses on Chinese and Indian employer (most often human resource managers) understandings of employability when they were recruiting accountants into midsized domestic and multinational firms. Interviews were undertaken in situ with 14 Chinese and 14 Indian employers, local Australian government agencies and alumni from Australian universities.
The massification of higher education and rising credentialism means possessing a professional qualification is becoming the initial requirement indicative of technical expertise as professional labor markets have become more precarious and graduate supply is greater. Employers across multinational companies mid and small sized companies in India and China state that they are seeking in addition to the credential at a reputable university, ‘soft skills’ (capacity for communication, team work, interpersonal skills…)(Blackmore, Rahimi, Gribble 2016). Additionally, they recruit those who are ‘distinctive’ as indicated by volunteering, work experience, mentoring and overall motivation (Lin 2012, Patton 2009). These are areas in which Australian universities are now seeking to provide support by offering career guidance, making soft skills more explicit in the curriculum and providing work integrated learning (Gribble et al 2016). But this study indicates that international credentials are now less valued than previously in the rapidly expanding economies and higher education sector in China and India. International graduates are considered to lack the social networks and local knowledge that provide access to the labor market, internships and work experience in both their host and home country. Often the final arbiter in employer choice, as this study shows, is whether the applicant is perceived to ‘fit in’ with colleagues and the organizational culture.
Blackmore, J. Gribble, C. & Rahimi, M. (2017) International education, the formation of capital and graduate employment Critical Studies in Education DOI:10.1080/17508487.2015.1117505 Blackmore, J. et al (2007) Homosociability, the Search for Security and the Production of Normalised Principal Identities Educational Management, Administration and Leadership 34(3) 297-317 Bourdieu, P. (1992) The Logic of Practice. Cambridge. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. E. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory of research for the sociology of education New York. Brown, P. et al. (2010). The Global Auction: Oxford University Press. Brown, P., & Hesketh, A. (2004). The mismanagement of talent: Employability and the competition for jobs in the knowledge economy. Oxford. Butcher A (2002) A Grief Observed:Grief Experiences of East Asian International Students Returning to Their Countries of Origin Journal of Studies in International Education, 6(4), 354-368 Gribble, C & Blackmore, J. (2012): Re-positioning Australia's international education in global knowledge economies: implications of shifts in skilled migration policies for universities, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 34:4, 341-354 Gribble, C. & Rahimi, M. & Blackmore, J. (2016) International students and post study employment , in Tran. L. T. & Gomes, C. (Eds). International student engagement and identity. Springer Kanter, R.M (1977) Men and Women of the Corporation. New York, Basic Books Lin, L. (2012, August 22). China's Graduates Face Glut, Wall Street Journal. Patton, D. (2009). China: Pressure to improve graduate job skills. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from www.universityworldnews.com Westerman, J. and Cyr, B. 2004 An integrative analysis of person-organisation fit theories International Journal of Selection and Assessment 12(3 252-61 Wilson, G. P.,(2011) "Fitting-in: Sociocultural Adaptation of International Graduate Students" . NERA Conference http://digitalcommons.uconn.edu/nera_2011/21 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227584196 Xianlin Song & Kate Cadman (2013) Education with(out) distinction: beyond graduate attributes for Chinese international students, Higher Education Research & Development,32(2)258-271
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