Mark Twain’s proverb, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” explains enough on why we shouldn’t be worried about figures showing more graduates are finding their first jobs abroad. They are learning valuable life skills, experiencing independence, and evolving every niche of their persona.
After recession, there has been a 27% increase in the number of British graduates who find their first job in a foreign country. This has worried the business leaders and unsurprisingly they have branded the figures as ‘brain drain’ that is damaging British businesses and global competitiveness.
But why all the doom and despair? The sudden increase in the number of graduates finding their first job overseas should not be a concern. On the contrary, it should be a celebrated fact that British graduates have the confidence to work abroad.
While the actual number is much lower than you might expect – it’s a mere 5,175 out of 760,000 graduates as per 2011 statistics– or that many are only momentarily posted overseas by British-based multinationals.
An international experience is extremely valuable for a graduate’s career. They manage to learn the local language, gain an intimate understanding of another culture and create an international network of important contacts. Finding their first job abroad is any graduate’s first choice and a survey showed three bold themes among the aspirants.
First, they foresee themselves embracing both the rewards and challenges of the cultural exchange. Second, they believe that living in a foreign country is the best way to develop an understanding of the perspectives of others over the world. Third, they value working and sharing wisdom among others as a way to shape themselves for lifetimes of service, purpose and meaning.
Language and cultural barriers are difficult to overcome, but not impossible. And these sorts of divides are too often used as an excuse to stagnate in the emotional and intellectual growth of a candidate. But education and cross-cultural dialogue are the tools to overcome these obstacles, and increase understanding, awareness, and tolerance. Such an experience certainly makes people happier, more focused and ambitious.
Aspirants look forward to being equipped with the skills and experience to coordinate with foreign clients and work in international teams. A first job abroad quickly teaches these skills and mindsets, which are immensely valuable to UK businesses wanting to develop or trade overseas.
Interestingly, the statistics of the students finding their first job overseas and the number of students who have had the opportunity to study or work abroad during their degree are increasingly coincidental. These students’ foreign experience gives them a taste of freedom as well as opportunities – the idea of living abroad is less of a hurdle if they have already done so.
And for those students who didn’t spend a year of their degree course working or studying overseas due to fear or neophobia, expense, or degree course restrictions, working abroad after graduation might be their only practicable opportunity to live abroad.
Either way, it’s an exciting and inspiring opportunity to see more of the world and embrace the variability at the start of your career.