Thursday, June 25, 2015

Effect of Study Abroad on Employability

Giorgio Di Pietro’s recent study, “Do Study Abroad Programs Enhance the Employability of Graduates?” investigates an important facet of international exchange.  One of the most oft-cited rationales for internationalization in general is the economic benefit.  As the Committee for Economic Development’s 2006 report, “Education for Global Leadership” claims, “…American multinationals’ success in expanding their sales in overseas markets depends on their understanding of the culture, language, and customs of local markets.”  To achieve this success, they need employees who are culturally and linguistically competent.  Di Pietro’s study seeks to determine whether companies have started taking this into account in their hiring processes.

Di Pietro’s study examines the employment likelihood of graduates who studied abroad versus those who did not.  His data source was a 2007 survey from the Italian National Statistical Institute; he concentrates on the observation of whether the graduate has participated in a study abroad program.  After removing the effects of other observable and unobservable student characteristics from his equation, he determines that studying abroad does indeed have a positive effect on employability.  In fact, according to his data, “The magnitude of the employment-enhancing effect of studying abroad is found to be slightly greater than that related to having continuously worked during university (relative to not having worked).”  He concludes that graduates who studied abroad are approximately 22.9% more likely to be employed three years after graduation than their peers who did not study abroad. 

This study could serve as an important recruiting tool for study abroad programs.  Being able to tell prospective study abroad participants that if they do study abroad, they’ll be 22.9% more likely to land a job, is a very nice selling point.  I would be interested to see this study replicated in the US, to see how the results compare.  I fear that companies in the US, a country historically noted for its “rugged individualism”, may not place the same value on global competence than companies located in the more metropolitan European community.

Committee for Economic Development (CED). (2006).Education for Global Leadership: The Importance of International Studies and Foreign Language Education for US Economic and National Security, A statement by the Research and Policy Committee of the Committee for Economic Development.  Retrieved from:

Di Pietro, G. (2015). Do study abroad programs enhance the employability of graduates?. Education Finance and Policy.

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