International students’ perceptions of career readiness in vocational education

Dr Behnam Soltani1

1Digital Media Academy, Auckland, New Zealand

This paper reports on a study that employed a narrative frames methodology to investigate the perceptions of international students regarding what they thought would make them more career ready upon graduation. The study presents data from 180 international students who were doing an undergraduate or graduate diploma degree in a New Zealand vocational tertiary institution. The findings showed that international students faced linguistic and non-linguistic challenges, and perceived career readiness as investment in multiple forms of capital and active engagement in multiple communities of practice in the host country. Specifically, they perceived that they needed to develop human, cultural, psychological forms of capital and a range of capabilities before they could be recognized, perceived, and positioned as more career ready graduates. Career readiness largely depended on a range of factors including mastery of the discipline specific requirements, learning the multiple competencies of the academic and workplace communities, and acting effectively within various communities. Notably, the paper reveals that forms of capital are not mobilized unless international students agentively engage in their academic and workplace communities of practice. Finally, the paper recommends that to support international students further, there must be collaboration among the academics including teaching staff, professional staff members, student learning support, international student office, and international students so we could create programs that better address the study and career needs of international students.



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