In today’s globalized world companies are becoming more international, and there is also a higher need for people who know how to act in a multicultural environment. Training people to work in a multicultural environment is both timely, costly, and many times does not bring the expected results. But what if young people could develop the needed cross-cultural skills already before entering the workforce? Studying abroad is becoming more common and university classes are full of people from different nationalities and cultures. So, what are the competencies you can expect to find in graduates who have studied in a global environment?
- Effective communication skills
By learning in a global environment, students don’t only learn to work with a foreign language, but to effectively communicate through cultural differences. When you are around people from different cultures, you can no longer assume that they have the same background knowledge. Students will need to put special effort into being understood and find ways to communicate that don’t require prior understanding or knowledge. In addition, coming from different realities means that people will react differently in different situations, so situational understanding will also be developed in a global learning environment. By having an experience like this, young people will also be able to communicate effectively in their working life – be it multicultural or not. They will be able to bring out their opinions effectively and communicate with different kinds of people.
- Appreciating different points of view
A global learning environment will mold more open minded young individuals, but more than that, people who take into consideration different points of view and embrace the diversity of different opinions. A global learning environment creates tolerance, so that young people learn to appreciate different kinds of people, beliefs and cultures. This further on advances cooperation and innovation, as they will be able to implement ideas from different people and cultures.
- Flexibility and independence
For many young people, the moment they study abroad is the first time they are on their own, without a network of familiar people. This will make young people resolve the challenges they face by themselves, making them more confident in front of challenges. On the other hand, being in a new environment will also teach students to adapt to different situations. It will develop young people who are not afraid to take initiative and can easily adapt to the changes happening at the workplace.
- Critical thinking
A global learning environment gives new perspectives to things. Young people are able to see how things are done in different cultures and this will make them question the norms that they are used to. They will gain understanding of global issues, not only by hearing about them from the news, but by listening to personal experiences. This molds their way of thinking, making them able to make decisions based on their own thinking and knowledge.
- Ability to see the bigger picture
When young people go outside of the community they have lived in for their whole life, they are able to see things from a bigger perspective. Learning about the global perspective gives the ability to connect the dots and, as mentioned before, take different points of view into consideration. This gives them experience that will later help to see the bigger picture for example in different projects that they are working on and even to understand how different functions of the firm link together.
Young people who have experience learning in a global environment, seem to possess many of the soft skills needed to work in a professional environment. Thanks to this experience in a challenging environment, where they need to learn how to solve problems in a different language and with people from different backgrounds, it also makes them more ready to face different scenarios at work. By hiring more young people who have already experience from a global environment, you will not only save resources from having to train people on cross-cultural skills but find strong and independent individuals who will strive in any multicultural environment.4