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European employers appreciate experience abroad, but don’t overdo it

MAASTRICHT. A survey shows that employers prefer candidates who have studied abroad for a while. But those who have completed their entire study abroad, are a little less popular.

European employers have a clear preference for graduates who have taken a few subjects abroad, says a survey by the Maastricht Research Centre for Education and Labour Market (ROA) commissioned by the European Commission. According to employers, job applicants who have experience abroad are often more resourceful, easy to get on with and speak various languages.

But that does not mean that applicants who have completed their entire studies abroad, are even more popular. Despite ambitions about mutually comparable European diplomas and ‘a single higher education space’, employers often prefer to hire candidates with a diploma from their ‘own’ country. Not in the least because they doubt the value of foreign diplomas. The latter applies in particular to Great Britain and Sweden, countries that score high in the higher education ranking, but to a much lesser extent for Italy and Spain, which are much lower on the ranking. “Employers practise risk minimisation,” says Rolf van der Velden, professor of education and the labour market at the UM and one of the authors of the report. So British employers, who know that their own education system produces good graduates, will look more critically at diplomas from other countries. Van der Velden: “Foreign countries are very diverse. There are good and bad institutes. Had we asked employers if they would take on someone from Stanford or Harvard, the answer would most certainly have been ‘yes’.”

According to Van der Velden, Germans, Belgians or Britons who complete their studies at the UM need not worry. The Netherlands has a good name in the world of education.

Those who really want to study abroad, should not be deterred: in general employers still prefer someone who has a foreign diploma to someone who has never set foot outside the country.

On the whole, employers appear to view experience abroad as something extra. It is “a feather in the cap when the cap is good,” the report states. In other words, the main factors are good grades, work experience and level of training.

HOP/ Riki Janssen

 

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