Working Paper 64
Navigating the host labour market: International graduates need more than credentials
Published April 2021

This study deployed a mixed-method approach to explore how international graduates identified and strategically utilised their resources to negotiate employability in the host country. One hundred and eighty international graduates in various disciplines of Australian universities participated in a survey and in-depth interviews. Findings revealed that employability was determined by various forms of capital including human, cultural social, identity and psychological. More importantly, the graduates had to develop ‘agentic capital’ to decide how to utilise these forms of capital appropriately. Social and cultural capital emerged as the crucially important elements when the graduates looked for opportunities to get a foot into the labour market. These forms of capital enabled the graduates to mobilise their human capital. However, to navigate barriers in the workplace, the articulation of a sound understanding about the working culture became a ‘must’ because the graduates found it hard to understand hidden rules and conventions in the labour market. Results from the study indicate that graduate employability should not just be measured right after students’ graduation because different forms of capital play their significant roles at different stages of the graduates’ career development. Besides, to support graduates to sustain their employability, higher education should equip students with various forms of capital but not human capital.

Read the full Working Paper here