New study finds that studying abroad makes you more employable

Sean Talbot
Head of Audience

Spending time abroad is often seen as a great way to boost your skills and experiences, and new research has provided evidence to show that studying abroad does in fact make you more employable.

The report by the Institute of International Education (IIE) analysed '21st century workplace skills' and found that 11 out of 15 were gained or improved by experiences overseas. 




The research, 'Gaining an Employment Edge: The Impact of Study Abroad on 21st Century Skills & Career Prospects', found that studying abroad has an overall positive impact on employability.

Researchers identified certain workplace skills that had developed significantly overseas: intercultural skills, curiosity, flexibility & adaptability, confidence, self-awareness, interpersonal skills, communication, problem solving, language and tolerance. 


The report surveyed 4,656 people who participated in a study abroad program from 2000 onwards and also found that experiences abroad had contributed directly to career progression and promotion. 

68% of participants who studied abroad for longer than eight weeks said their experiences had contributed directly to a job offer, and most said the skills they gained through studying abroad have been useful in their career at some point - especially with helping them achieve promotions into management, where communication and interpersonal skills were considered important. 

People who have studied abroad also said their experiences have broadened their horizons, making them more ambitious and aware of career options which otherwise would have remained unconsidered. 


STEM graduates benefit significantly from an increase in soft skills when studying abroad. Respondents from science backgrounds noted that technical degree subjects can be "insular," and said that going overseas enabled them to gain other, less technical skills which have proven useful in the workplace. 

IIE president, Allan Goodman, said: “In today’s globally interconnected economy, most students will develop careers where they work for or do business with international companies.Our goal is to help educators and employers better understand the specific links between study abroad and career skills, to advance their mutual interest in developing global talent. Alumni report that the skills gained through study abroad can be powerful tools for long term career success.”