Out of five recruitment priorities, international experience has the third-largest positive effect on employer satisfaction, especially in North America and the Asia Pacific, QS Market Insights manager Dasha Karzunina told The PIE News.
Only a degree from a high-ranking university and participation in extra-curricular activities yield a higher satisfaction score.
“It is becoming vital that universities also prepare graduates for the world of work”
QS CEO Nunzio Quacquarelli explained in the introduction to the report that the development of soft skills has become as important as the technical skills acquired during a degree.
“It is becoming more and more vital that universities also prepare graduates for the world of work. Opportunities for internships, study abroad, extra-curricular activity and active learning can all contribute to the development of these and other skills universities want,” he said.
Carried out in conjunction with the Institute of Student Employers, the report evaluated findings from the 2018 QS Global Employers Survey and the QS Applicants Survey to track the link between employers’ and applicant expectations.
The verdict is clear: the graduate skills gap is a “global and widespread issue,” the report states: for 13 out of 15 employability skills identified, employers are less satisfied than they would expect. Students overvalue creativity and leadership skills, and undervalue the importance of flexibility, adaptability and teamwork.
One of the skills the employers surveyed report being satisfied with is the ability to speak another language. The expectations are met in North America and Western Europe, while Latin America and Asia report a gap.
The reason, Karzunina explained, is that in certain regions languages are less prioritised, so the gap between expectations and satisfaction is narrowed.
“English will be the lingua franca in the Western world, which is why employers might not have such a high requirement for candidates speaking different languages,” she explained.
“Whereas in Asia or Latin America, I would imagine they would be required to speak English as well as the local language, which is why the satisfaction is generally lower.”
MBA employers follow the same pattern, with multilingualism having one of the highest satisfaction scores, and international awareness showing only a slight gap between expectations and satisfaction scores.