As the global workforce becomes increasingly volatile, UK companies are advising future employees to gain international and foreign language skills

According to, 70% of companies believe future employees will need foreign language skills and international experience to succeed. To understand the views and experiences of international exposure for graduates, observed a survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) which revealed a large discrepancy between countries, in terms of opportunity for international exposure.

American (81%) and German (87%) graduates have the most opportunities to study abroad, while UK graduates have considerable less opportunities as 62% of those surveyed revealed.

Interestingly, British students who study abroad were found to be 9% more likely to gain a 1st or 2:1 degree at university and were 24% less likely to unemployed.

CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey (2017) reveals some of the frustrations encountered by employers include a lack of international and cultural awareness (39%) and lack of foreign language skills (47%).

Andrew Lynch, a spokesperson for Teaching Abroad, adds:

“In a time of stark global growth, British students cannot afford to be complacent and reliant on the skills that come naturally to them. To thrive, they should seek to challenge themselves. There is no richer way to do this than to embark on studying or working abroad.

A placement will provide you with an opportunity to thrive, boost employability, improve language skills and extend expertise in your chosen field.

If you take teaching abroad as an example, aspiring teachers can improve their understanding and empathy working with different cultures. This will deliver vital experience to a career where you never know who you will have to teach from one day to the next!”

Graduates who have taken advantage of the international experiences available to them, three-quarters (75%) agree these opportunities had been offered to them while studying. Most (69%) were offered the chance to study overseas, while 62% had access to foreign language courses and 55% to international cultural exchanges.

Abby Chinery, 26

“I studied a French BA at university, and as a part of my degree I had a compulsory year abroad. Initially, I was hesitant about leaving all the friends I had made at university and moving to Paris, but I benefitted from my time abroad. It forced me to face anxieties I had, come out of my shell and most importantly- I learnt how to speak French fluently!

After finishing my degree, I ended up moving back there for a few years. Speaking two languages has helped me experience another culture as a native, and has improved my career skillset, elevating my approach to the work I do today.

The onus is on graduates to expand their horizons in order to compete in the current job market as it will only help them succeed in their career. Graduates who have international skills will also be able to fill the skills gap that many UK employers are looking to fill.

Andreea Putinelu, 22

“I’ve always wanted to study abroad. My dad is a sailor and he would always tell me about the beautiful places he would visit; emphasising the importance of seeing the world. So, when time came for me to choose where I would like to study I didn’t have to think twice.The first day I stepped down in London, I was shocked about the cultural difference and how diverse the city is. It was my first time flying abroad and I didn’t know what to expect. Three years later and I’m a proud PR & Advertising alumnus, working in the city I now call home. I don’t know if I would have progressed as far as I have, if I had just stayed at home in Romania.”