International Education: The Importance of Knowledge for Business

An international education is an invaluable resource for developing new skills and knowledge. A study conducted by the Institute of International Education (IIE) has uncovered a connection between overseas learning and the critical skills demanded by today's employers.

The study highlights, among other facts, that there’s a correlation between the amount of time that students spend learning overseas and an increased number of job offers once they return home. Students who spend time training overseas for an extended period, reports the study, also advance further in their careers, typically pick up a foreign language, and acquire improved communication skills.

Sixty percent of international learners who stayed overseas for a year report that their experience led to a job offer or promotion, while only 43 percent of overseas learners who participated in a short-term, eight-week program reported the same result. Still, the short-term overseas learners reported a higher incidence of acquiring collaboration skills compared to one-year international students. This was because, cited researchers, the short-term programs were more structured and team-oriented, while the long-term programs allowed for more independent experiences

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learners who participated in the study reported a considerable increase in knowledge about their chosen discipline while attending school overseas. Twenty-seven percent of science majors who participated in international studies outside of the discipline reported that the experience contributed to job offers. However, only 20 percent of international students who attended overseas classes within their disciplines reported the same result.

Technology Is Improving Education and Making It Easier

Anyone who’s willing to learn can advance their business skills. They can also venture into different learning paths than their major and acquire new, innovative career capabilities. Technology is changing education, and it’s now possible more than ever to learn new subjects and advance your skills. By 2020, the global ed-tech market is expected to grow by $93.76 billion. No doubt, people are also able to travel overseas for education and learn through other means beyond traditional education.

The latest innovations in ed-tech (education technology) facilitate this outcome. Learning Management Systems (LMSs), for instance, help educators to track various types of online learning programs. Teachers use LMS systems to upload materials that students can access remotely. Gamification is another technological educational resource. The technology incorporates algorithms within educational games, providing learners with personalized, engaging experiences. Additionally, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) provide students with an enhanced environmental learning experience.

Gain Awareness of New Cultures

Education leaders are increasingly recognizing the importance of teaching children about issues from a global perspective. More and more, academics are arguing that today’s generation must learn to communicate with people from different cultures in a modern, interconnected world.

In support of this, the Institute of Commercial Management (ICM), headquartered in the UK, reports that a segment of polled business leaders supports this view in a study conducted in collaboration with the British Council and the Think Global education charity. The report, titled “Global Skills Gap: preparing young people for the global economy,” reveals that a growing number of employers value job candidates with awareness of international issues. Furthermore, according to the report, approximately 75 percent of UK enterprise leaders believe that young learners without international awareness will get left behind in the future multicultural job market.

Education Abroad Creates New Knowledge

Living and learning in another country is different from taking a vacation. International learning enhances students’ lives and cultural intelligence. During international studies, students can live with residents in a new environment and increase their learning experience beyond a standard curriculum. For example, students that study abroad in Italy have the chance to learn Italian and practice with residents daily. These kinds of authentic experiences promote personal growth.

Build Personal Development Skills

There is no doubt that international learning broadens students’ horizons. It’s one thing to view pictures and read about exotic locales like Machu Picchu and Mumbai, but visiting foreign lands in person is an entirely different and enlightening experience.

For many, college is their first major experience away from home. During this time, young learners experience freedom, independence, and opportunity for the first time. International studies build on the traditional college experience by providing learners with more opportunities to grow academically, professionally and personally, in addition to experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

International students are gifted with the opportunity to develop independence, grow up, meet new people, and experience living on their own. This gives learners a chance to develop a host of skills needed to thrive in the modern, interconnected business environment.

Case in point, 60 percent of those polled in the IIE’s research initiative reported that international studies help them to acquire 14 of 15 critical business skills, 11 of them remarkably so. The top five capabilities in which evidence supported enhancement were intercultural skills, curiosity, flexibility, confidence and self-awareness, and more than 50 percent of polled international students reported considerable gains in interpersonal and problem-solving skills. With the many opportunities presented by international studies, today’s learners can become the leaders of tomorrow.

By Ryan Ayers

About the author

Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.

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