EAIE Summer Forum: Employability for the 21st century

EAIE Summer Forum: Employability for the 21st century EAIE Forum

As the world around us rapidly changes, so do the skills one needs to gain employment and the nature of work itself. The 2020 edition of Summer Forum seeks to explore the many intersections between international education and new ways of working in a global world.

The necessities of life require that the vast majority of us make our way through the world by undertaking some form of work. Indeed, employment provides the framework for many of the fundamental aspects of our lives: how and where we spend significant periods of time, who we associate with, what knowledge and skills we cultivate, and what we value and prioritise in the way of ideas, interests, and aspirations. Preparation for employment is an outcome closely associated with education, particularly at the postsecondary level today. And in our increasingly culturally diverse societies and globalised economies, there are an array of new and evolving expectations around how international education can and should intersect with employability.

To make some sense of these timely issues, the EAIE is devoting the 2020 edition of Summer Forum magazine to an exploration of precisely this topic – ‘Employability for the 21st century’ – and we’re actively looking for authors to contribute their perspectives to this conversation.

What is ‘employability’, exactly?

Preparing students for the world of work is a complicated matter and may look very different depending on one’s perspective. We’re hopeful that one or more Forum articles will address some of the most fundamental questions of how employability is defined and understood in different contexts, and how those understandings intersect with matters of internationalisation in higher education.

Indeed, there are important questions in play. For example, what are employers (and society at large, for that matter) looking for when it comes to ‘employable’ graduates? Is employability all about the ability of individuals to contribute value in financial terms, or is employability also connected in some fashion to notions of being a ‘good person’ or even a ‘good (global) citizen’? To what extent and in what ways do international experience, foreign language skills and intercultural competences really matter? Equally important, what are graduates aspiring to in terms of ‘meaningful employment’? How do students define quality preparation for the world of work today and where does internationalisation fit into that understanding and those interests?

From understanding to action

Understanding the multiple dimensions of employability is vitally important, of course, but so too is gauging how our specific community of higher education institutions and international education professionals is engaging with these shifting realities. To this end, we’d like our Forum coverage of this topic to also showcase examples of how higher education institutions – as key conduits in the employability pipeline – are responding to the current demands of the world of work.

Articles that provide insight into institutions really ‘getting it’ when it comes to aligning programmes of study and student learning objectives with the demands and opportunities of the current world of work are most welcome – as are constructive critiques of less-than-successful efforts in this area. Likewise, if international education legitimately fosters relevant skill-building for employment, articles that present examples of collaborations between career services and international programmes, initiatives and/or offices are also most welcome. Similarly, perspectives on how international work placements and international alumni programmes may be leveraged to support student engagement with the global labour market can shed additional light on important dimensions of this conversation.

Whether we live to work or work to live, how we foster employability is a pressing concern for the field of international education specifically and the higher education community at large. We hope you’ll consider sharing your experiences and insights in this area in the form of an 800–1200 word article submission for the Summer 2020 issue of Forum. Submission guidelines can be found here and aspiring authors should send their articles to Publications@eaie.org by 16 March 2020. We look forward to hearing from you!

Laura E. Rumbley
EAIE, the NetherlandsLaura is Director, Knowledge Development and Research, at the EAIE.