I recently attended the Times Higher Education World Academic Summit in Melbourne. The word employability was on the lips of every single university leader. As the constant competition to attract talent globally grows, there is an intense pressure on universities to prove that their students are statistically more likely to walk into a job (and preferably a high paid and exciting one).
However, I think that sophisticated students should not be looking to employability as the main indicator in their choice of University. For the vast majority, getting a job will not be the challenge. The real indicator to watch out for should not be employability but promotability. Once in a job, will you get promoted fast? How many times will you be promoted in your first few years? And will your promotability be increased if you go to a swankier university?
Promotability may have less to do with what you have studied and more to do with the added value the university has provided beyond your degree.
Have you developed leadership skills at university and put them to practice? Have you taken one step further and learnt to be a leader who can work with colleagues from around the world? After all, increasingly international universities present a fantastic opportunity for students to grow global networks and develop Cultural Intelligence. And it is this type of talent that will quickly be promoted in ambitious organisations.
The worry is that if universities were assessed on the promotability of their students, some might not do so well. The word leadership is rarely being used, let alone being put to the test. There are international students living in bubbles of kindred (national) groups to give comfort rather than stimulation. Domestic and international students alike will develop little Cultural Intelligence in these key years and that means we are missing the opportunity to create a generation of leaders who are better at working together.
Which universities do you think would come out well in a promotability ranking? Let me know in comments below.