CFGI Quoted – “Students Who Study Abroad Make More Well-Rounded Employees”


“Students who study in other countries gain work-related skills that can help them be more successful in their careers, said panelists at the Generation Study Abroad IIE Summit 2017, held recently in Washington, D.C.

“Living and going to school or college abroad develops soft skills that make students better equipped to deal with foreign colleagues and to be more flexible if they eventually work in another country.

“‘Employees have to know how to communicate across cultural divides and consider perspectives that are different than their own—[skills] you get when you study abroad,’ Lynn Shotwell, executive director of the Council for Global Immigration (CFGI) told conference attendees. 

“…Shotwell moderated a panel discussion at the conference that featured Gina Tesla, vice president for corporate citizenship initiatives for IBM, and Reid Andres, director of communications and public affairs at telecommunications company Telefonica International USA. 

“…‘Unfortunately, fewer than 10 percent of American college students have a global experience, and less than half of Americans hold a valid passport,’ Shotwell told attendees. She added that ‘over the past five years, demand for bilingual workers in the U.S. has doubled—particularly [among] service industries such as banking and health care. Yet only about one-quarter of Americans can hold a conversation in a language other than English. … [You] see why corporate strategists and HR professionals have their work cut out for them to find and develop the talent they need to be successful.’

“…According to a new IIE report, Gaining an Employment Edge: The Impact of Study Abroad on 21st Century Skills & Career Prospects, studying abroad has ‘an overall positive impact on the development of a wide range of 21st century job skills.’

“‘That ability to be flexible and adaptable is core to an experience of studying abroad,’ Tesla said. ‘It's about that mindset, analytical skills and really being able to approach a new and challenging situation to leverage insights,’ all of which are especially helpful for those who work with teams all over the globe, she added.

“And as technology continues to improve and expand the ways in which employees communicate with each other, it's important for HR to consider making sure that employees have the soft skills necessary to communicate and empathize with people in other cultures.”

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