22 SES 01 D, Employability of (post)graduates
Study abroad is a well-researched phenomenon however the existing literature does not specifically illustrate the extent of an impact of full degree post-graduate foreign education on personality and professional development of graduates from developing countries such as Kazakhstan upon their return home. The current educational policy of Kazakhstan is oriented toward internationalisation of higher education and the government is actively encouraging young people to study abroad. Consequently, the number of people with international education is growing within the country’s labour force. Generally, study abroad is viewed to have a linearly positive influence on personality and career development of individuals. However, as the recent research suggests the overall impact of such education on the professional situation of graduates often depends on various factors and nuances, and it is not that straightforward. In this study, based on an interview of twelve foreign-educated post-graduates who returned to Kazakhstan this paper examines how personality and professional development were influenced by their post-graduate education experiences abroad; the challenges they confront upon graduation in reinserting themselves back in to the Kazakhstani society; and the ways in which they seek to use their education to build their social lives and professional careers. The paper shows how the graduates develop, over the course of their higher education abroad, a range of “Western” attitudes, expectations and more globalised sensibilities that are in many cases are not fitting into the local system.
The conceptual framework that helped me to understand the connection between study abroad and employability and the influence of foreign education on personality and professional development of graduates was built on the theory of human capital. The concept of human capital includes acquired and innate abilities, formal qualifications and skills gained during education as well as employment (Blundell et al., 1999, p. 2). The basic idea of the human capital theory states that better-educated individuals within equal conditions generally earn more and held higher positions (Becker, 1993). Also, the higher is an investment in education the higher are returns. This is a simple ‘formula’ well-known and recognised by governments and societies. This could relate to an ever-increasing drive to invest in education, to encourage people to acquire further degrees and diverse training locally as well as abroad (Waters, 2009).
This is a qualitative research. The data are obtained through the semi-structured interviews of graduates with study abroad experience currently working in the local labour market. Most of the interviews were conducted via Skype.
Findings illustrate that graduates view their foreign education as an advantageous endeavour with respect to linguistic skills, transferable skills, and acquisition of useful networks. They also reported challenges in the application of their international competences at work and limited options and capacity of the local labour market for professionals with international education experience.
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