A critical account of employability construction through the eyes of Chinese postgraduate students in the UK

Li, Zhen (2012) A critical account of employability construction through the eyes of Chinese postgraduate students in the UK. Journal of Education and Work (Submitted).


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This paper presents a multiple (n=23), longitudinal case study of the construction of personal employability by Chinese students at a UK university. It draws on the work of Brown and Hesketh (2004) to frame notions of employability in order to understand how these students engage with the international and Chinese labour markets from their own perspectives. The findings suggest that although overseas education is still seen by these students as contributing to their employability in general, there is a decline in the labour market value of the ‘hard currencies’ that overseas qualification carries whilst the ‘soft currencies’ gained from the overseas experiences are of more significant merit. The study also reveals that some concepts developed by Brown and Hesketh (2004), such as ‘purists’ versus ‘players’ and ‘personal capital’, need to be interpreted and contextualised differently when applied in an international context and outlines how this might be achieved in relation to Chinese students by introducing a Chinese concept – ‘SuZhi’(??). It is found that the discourse of ‘SuZhi’ has stronger explanatory power for the phenomenon being studied given its broader social applicability rather than being as directly and narrowly instrumental to employability as is the notion of personal capital.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 1363-9080 (print)
1469-9435 (electronic)
Keywords: employability, overseas education, Chinese students, global labour market
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Divisions : Faculty of Social and Human Sciences > Southampton Education School > Centre for Higher Education at Southampton (CHES)
ePrint ID: 340943
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
July 2012Submitted
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2012 15:16
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 20:23
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/340943

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