SELF-PERCEIVED DEVELOPMENT OF EMPLOYABILITY IN INTERNATIONAL POSTGRADUATE BUSINESS AND ENGINEERING STUDENTS IN GERMANY
The continuous growth in the enrolment of foreign students at German universities is rendering the German graduate labour market increasingly international. The number of foreign students enrolled at German universities has risen from 187,000 in 2000 to 301,000 in 2013. Foreign students represent 12% of all students and 20% of new students enrolled at German universities. The often cited reasons for the growth are the moderate cost of studying, supportive admission practices, good reputation of German education and good labour market chances. Germany is the most popular non-English-speaking destination for foreign students worldwide.
However, there is a seeming contradiction between the perceived labour market opportunity and actual employment outcomes. On the one hand, especially industrial employers in Germany assert that at least locally the unavailability of especially technically and commercially educated labour is restricting economic growth. On the other hand, labour market statistics and independent surveys indicate that only around 25% of foreign graduates succeed in finding full-time employment in Germany; out of around 75% who desire employment after graduation. The situation is similar several other European countries.
This paper approaches the above problem by investigating how international students and graduates perceive their own employability before and after gaining employment (or an internship) on the German labour market. The research sample consists of international business and engineering Master students and graduates of universities in Berlin. Using semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis, the research contrasts the experiences of persons who have found employment with the behaviour and beliefs of persons currently engaged in job search. The paper finally discusses the findings within the theories of employability, aiming at contributing to the understanding of international graduate employability in Germany.