Theoretical Assessment of Employability: The Employability of Chinese International Students


Worldwide competition is looming over higher education with credential inflation and labour market congestion. Most studies focus on the student's schooling phase, with few examining the dilemmas of labour market congestion, social closure and the actual struggles of graduate employability. This study examines the international student mobility (ISM) landscape and related debates in employability theory to show how the influx of Chinese international students to the West in pursuit of a degree that gives them a 'distinctive' status and relative employability edge has turned out to be dismal. I will discuss ISM trends and developments and then introduce details of Chinese students and Chinese graduates. The potential of combining the three main theories is then innovatively discussed to collectively address the criticism that employability theory is hollow, flimsy and lacks empirical validation (Brown, 2000, 2010). Three theories are classical human capital theory, Bourdieu's cultural capital and Phillip Brown's positional competition theory. The limitations of each theory and its potential application in combination are explored, and then the importance of incorporating these theories is reviewed in relation to the existing literature. Then, I explore in more depth the issues of employment and labour markets, critically reviewing the relevant literature and summarising research gaps in relation to the school-to-work transition, primarily the perception, experience, management and self-regulation of the labour market by Chinese graduates. This exploration reveals the clear limitations of the current employability literature, namely the problems of inadequate empirical verification of contexts and floating vacuous concepts, which provide the foundation for the theoretical exploration of this study.

Author Information
Miaomiao Jia, University of Cardiff, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: ACEID2024
Stream: Assessment Theories & Methodologies

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon