The value of diverse talent

We all know just how valuable international students can be to a country’s economy. Take Australia, for example. It’s the country’s fourth-largest export, worth close to AU$36 billion.

But it’s not just the economy – or education providers – who benefit from the diverse group of students who call Australia home. As graduations approach, the number of international student graduates looking to find employment in Australia is set to grow. There’s a real opportunity for employers to diversify and grow thanks to the global perspective that international students can bring.

At Cohort Go, we recently added three excellent international students to our engineering team, joining our very diverse workforce that hails from 11 countries. Here are my thoughts on why including international students in graduate hiring plans is a smart move for any business.

They are hardworking and resilient

Many students originate from countries and cultures with a strong work ethic. The combination of loyalty and hard work means that international students can make a great addition to a business. Their global experience makes them comfortable adapting to new roles and responsibilities, and if given an employment opportunity, many use it as a chance to hone their English language skills while growing their understanding of international workplace culture.

International students travel thousands of kilometres to complete study in a foreign land where they may not have any family or friends. It’s therefore vital that they develop strong coping mechanisms to succeed. Their ability to thrive outside of their comfort zone makes these new graduates incredibly resilient, and this is a skill that’s becoming more and more sought after in the workplace.

Their skillset is diverse

Diversity is more than an HR buzzword; it is a competitive business advantage. According to McKinsey and Company, businesses in the top quartile for ethnic diversity are 33% more likely to score more profits than those in the lowest quartile.

With a variety of students from different ethnicities, cultures and countries, Australian employers can create a team that is ready to operate and thrive on the global stage. International students also stand to benefit from being part of an Australian workplace with a global focus because they can develop an understanding of how businesses operate in an international context.

This combined impact leads to a diverse workplace where global business skills are learned and adopted across the board.

They can help create global businesses

Australian businesses stand to gain $393 billion in revenue from expanding into Asia, increasing from $278 billion in 2017 according to ANZ. An employee who understands the cultural norms and business practices of another country can be a critical link between a business and customers in a target market. Given Australia’s top four sources of international students include China, India, Malaysia and Vietnam, international student hires can have a direct impact on Asian expansion for the companies lucky enough to hire them.

Even if employers hire students for part-time employment during their study, their connection to any business can become lifelong. Over 80 per cent of international students who studied in Australia between 2000–2014 returned to their home countries (or went to another destination), so to an employer their future links could prove to be highly valuable.

Having a wide talent pool to look to for a new hire means that businesses can truly attract the best candidate for a role. By broadening the scope to include international students, Australian businesses, in particular, can create a more global footprint and forge stronger team connections.

It’s our job as international education advocates to showcase the immense value that international students can provide to businesses, in Australia and beyond.

About the author: Mark Fletcher is CEO and co-founder of Cohort Go; a leading edtech company that connects the international education community.

This article was first published by The PIE Blog

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