of the first GiLE4Youth
The Development of
Competencies for Employability
29 April 2021
2 GiLE Foundation (2021)
G4Y International Conference ‘21, The Development of Competencies for Employability
Editors: Dr. habil Andrea Tick, Dr. Judit Beke
Junior layout editor: Mgr. Bence Csinger
Published by the GiLE Journal of Skills Development
Although care has been taken to ensure that the information contained in this Proceedings is
correct and complete, GiLE cannot guarantee the accuracy, precision and the completeness of
the aforementioned information, therefore the editors assume no responsibility, and shall in no
event be liable for any direct, indirect, special or incidental damage resulting from, arising out
of or in connection with the use of this information, nor for any infringement of third party
intellectual property rights which may result from its use.
Responsible Publisher: GiLE Foundation
3 GiLE Foundation (2021)
It was our great pleasure to serve as conference chairs for the first GiLE4Youth International
Conference (G4Y), organized by the GiLE Foundation and the editorial team of the GiLE
Journal of Skills Development (GJSD).
At this first conference, we celebrated what we at GiLE, as a professional community, have
achieved. In April 2021, we published the first issue of GJSD. The initial challenges that we
faced were typical of the launch of a new scientific journal. We had to navigate through the
many opportunities and obstacles on the road to publishing a successful scientific journal. Our
enthusiastic and dedicated team had a vision to create even greater value and started to organise
the G4Y conference in order to introduce the new journal and our vision as well as to exchange
ideas on how to chart our journey forward to reach new heights. We aimed to create synergies
between our GiLE Academy and our GiLE Journal by finding ways to providing authors,
especially young scientists, with an opportunity to expose their research findings to an audience
in an innovative and engaging way.
At the time the conference was formed, the third wave of Covid-19 hit the world and Hungary,
so we were forced to move the conference online. We embraced the challenge and unlocked
opportunities that were not possible at traditional in-person events and organised a virtual event
that was geographically unconstrained and encouraged more attendees from all over the world.
Speakers – academics, teachers, trainers and students - were able to join our virtual networking
opportunities and connect with online audiences during the sessions and even before and after
the conference on Howspace. We are grateful to Howspace who provided an AI-powered digital
collaboration tool that offered a unique networking opportunity for the participants. At this
platform, we could share recorded presentations, lecture slides, quizzes and related material,
we could organise live video meetings, brainstorming sessions, and informal chats with the
participants to explore current and future research directions and opportunities
Through expert keynote speakers and three complimenting training sessions, participants were
given the opportunity to share and learn new ideas and feel reinvigorated with fresh thoughts.
Our programme of the day included several sessions on each topic area of the conference and
highlighted the role of developing character building, digital competencies and communication
skills in boosting youth employability. We wholeheartedly recommend the Proceedings of the
G4Y conference that contains a collection of papers presented at a conference. Upon request,
we can connect you to our trainers, teachers and academics who did not disseminate their
presentations in this book.
To put a conference of this magnitude together is not a small task. To that end, we would like
to thank the organisers for their tireless efforts. We would like to thank all the partner
organizations for providing their generous support, and we would like to thank all the
conference participants for their valuable contributions.
We want to remain eager to interact with the participants, and to enjoy opportunities to discuss
submissions, projects and ideas. We would be glad to be able to see many of you again at our
next conferences where we can celebrate our past accomplishments, renew friendships and
further expand our networks.
Dr. Andrea Tick and Dr. Judit Beke
4 GiLE Foundation (2021)
of the GiLE4Youth ’21 Conference
Table of Contents
Communication Competences 5
Make your voice heard and tune your ears for a global orchestra 6
Working from home in 2020—Lessons learned to leverage these learnings going forward
as emerging leaders and a remote office workforce 16
Communication problems and solutions faced by Chinese college students entering the
Hate speech toward youngsters in online media 42
Character Building 50
Analysis of gap between competencies developed by higher education and required by
employers in Hungary 51
Studying time management of young generations 63
Bence Ferenc Balazs
Digital Competences 70
Enhancing students’ digital competencies within the Employability module of the
University of Europe’s skills-based curricula 71
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Make your voice heard
and tune your ears for a global orchestra
Communication Lights, Germany
Many people still think that sounding like a native speaker together with correct grammar and perfect
vocabulary are the main elements of successful international communication. There have been countless
situations when people did not speak up because they feared that their noticeable accent features could
be considered as a low level of expertise and that this could result into social, educational, and
professional disadvantages or even discrimination. How is English mostly used by international
communication partners and what information about them is available? Who is responsible for
misunderstandings or communication breakdown?
Based on secondary analysis of researchers in the areas of (business) English as a lingua franca and
sociolinguistics, the relationship between accent and authenticity as well as identity and intelligibility
will be clarified. Moreover, the Common European framework of reference for languages: Learning,
teaching, assessment (CEFR, 2001) and the CEFR Companion Volume (2020) can be regarded as an
ideal framework for educators and employers to increase employability by developing a (B)ELF
mindset. This will not only raise awareness of a person’s plurilingual and pluricultural repertoire, but
also challenge certain attitudes, beliefs, and intercultural appropriateness. Despite the close relationship
between language and culture and its huge impact on constructing ourself and the other, accent prejudice
and linguistic racism have often been neglected and should be added to the map of diversity and
inclusion, as they are crucial for our sense of belonging and wellbeing.
Keywords: accent, identity, intercultural competence, mindset, prejudice
The motto of the European Union “united in diversity”, which is used in the preamble to the
Treaty, highlights the challenges of finding a balance in a fast-changing world (CVCE.EU by
UNI.LU, 2016). While unity cannot be regarded as an end in itself because there is always the
risk that too much standardisation could have a negative impact on the variety of identities, too
much diversity could easily prevent achieving a common goal. The idea of giving equal
importance to seemingly contrasting ideas will be a recurring topic in this article, which is also
meant to highlight that language and culture as well as speaking and listening are inextricably
linked, and why using (Business) English as a Lingua Franca will be useful for successful and
reflective communication across cultures. Although the enormous increase in globalization and
migration has intensified awareness of our linguistic and cultural diversity, finding an
appropriate level of adaptability and authenticity, especially with English as the number one
global language is highly affected by a person’s attitude towards their own and other
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2. Linguistic diversity
A total number of about 7,000 living languages (Ethnologue, 2021) gives us an idea of the
worldwide linguistic diversity. Nonetheless, more than 40% of the languages are at risk of
disappearing. This development has been more accelerated by two facts: Firstly, only 23
languages represent half of the world’s population. Secondly, no other language has ever been
as important and dominant for global communication as English is now. While English finds
itself in third position (370 million people) after Spanish and Mandarin Chinese when looking
at so-called “native speakers”, it achieves an outstanding first position with about 1.5 billion
speakers, when the focus is on the usage of English and “non-native speakers” are included.
(As there has been a lot of criticism concerning these two terms they will be used with inverted
commas in this article). The colonial influence of the British Empire, the US-American
economic and cultural power and the use of the internet are given as main reasons for this
development and are still deeply rooted in many people’s attitudes and beliefs concerning the
users and use of English.
The British linguist David Crystal (2003) describes Kachru’s (1988) “The Three Circles of
English” as the most influential model of World Englishes. The “Inner Circle” stands for
countries like the United Kingdom, the United States or Australia, where English is the primary
language, but it accounts for only 10% of English users. These countries have a long tradition
of being “norm-providing varieties” with regard to the English language. Many Commonwealth
countries like for example India or Singapore belong to the “Outer Circle”. English is used as
official first or second language and has often achieved a key role in a country’s main
institutions. While these are considered as “norm-developing varieties”, all the countries in the
“Expanding Circle” (China, Russia, Germany) are “norm-dependent varieties”, because
English is taught as a foreign language relying on standards developed by “native speakers”.
Guerra (2012) is of the opinion that all the stakeholders involved in learning, teaching, and
assessing English will have to thoroughly question their attitudes and beliefs so that
misconceptions about the use of English can be avoided referring to Kachru’s (1992) “six
fallacies about the users and uses of English”:
1. That in the Outer and Expanding Circles, English is essentially learned to interact
with native speakers of the language.
2. That English is necessarily learned as a tool to understand and teach American or
British cultural values, or what is generally termed the Judeo-Christian traditions.
3. That the goal of learning and teaching English is to adopt the native models of
English (the Received Pronunciation or General American).
4. That the international non-native varieties of English are essentially
“interlanguages” striving to achieve “native-like” character.
5. That the native speakers of English as teachers, academic administrators, and
material developers provide a serious input in the global teaching of English, in
policy formation and in determining the channels for the spread of the language.
6. That the diversity and variation in English is necessarily an indicator of linguistic
decay; that restricting the decay is the responsibility of the native scholars of English
and ESL programs (Kachru, 1992 in Guerra, 2012).
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Crystal (1999) is far ahead of his times, as he predicts that “learners will have to adapt their
British Standard English to an international norm – or perhaps vice versa, learning an
international norm first, and modifying it to British (or US, etc.) English”. This is very similar
to Modiano’s (1999) model of English as an international language (EIL) putting EIL as the
“common core” at the centre, which could then be complemented by the necessary varieties in
a specific context.
FIGURE 1. ENGLISH AS AN INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE (EIL)
Source: Modiano (1999)
According to Crystal (2013), the question of ownership of a language or whose English is to be
spoken depends on the number of people using it and can, thus, clearly be answered when only
looking at the ratio of four “non-native speakers” to one “native-speaker”. The people speaking
a language have the power to change it so that it reflects their linguistic and cultural identities
in their specific contexts. Moreover, Graddol (2006), who stresses the importance of English as
a Lingua Franca, estimates that about 80% of international communication happens without
any native speaker being present. What does that mean for the still dominating and mostly
British and North American role models and their Anglo-American cultural norms? Would not
most international users of English benefit more from moving away from a focus on “error” as
a deviation from a “native-speaker” norm to functional appropriateness in a specific
sociolinguistic context. Graddol (2006) is highly interested in the future of English. The subtitle
of his book Why global English may mean the end of ‘English as a Foreign Language’ already
forecasts the paradigm shift officially confirmed by the publication of the CEFR Companion
Volume (2020), which is supposed to be a complement to the first publication of the CEFR in
2001. The “native speaker” disappeared as idealized role model, intelligibility is the primary
construct of phonological control and listening and speaking are equally important or as Hansen
(2018) describes it: 2 Billion Voices: How to speak bad English perfectly.
A further societal development has to be taken into consideration. Based on the New York
Times/Qatar Foundation publication named after Joe Mortell (2020) globalization has also been
responsible for a huge increase in multilingualism. It is estimated that 60% of the global
population can speak two or more languages. Singapore and Sweden can even offer top
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percentage figures of 100% and 97%, whereas the United Kingdom and the United States, so-
called “native-speaker” countries, achieve only 35% and 25% (Mortell, 2020). Thus, it is very
likely that when there are conversations with “native speakers” that they may have never been
confronted with possible limitations of communicating in a language other than their mother
tongue. Melo-Pfeiffer (2018) illustrates how this development at a societal level has had an
impact on language education as the so-called multilingual turn. As the use of terminology does
not always seem to be clear, she makes a difference between social and individual
multilingualism and defines the latter as plurilingualism. Additionally, the CEFR Companion
Volume (2020) further supports this paradigm shift away from the monolingual fallacy, which
suggests that English can only be taught by strictly using English. The CEFR Companion
Volume highlights that the learners/users have to become more aware of the richness of their
linguistic and cultural heritage so that they can make use of it as a plurilingual and
“In an intercultural approach, it is a central objective of language education, to promote
the favourable development of the learner’s whole personality and sense of identity in
response to the enriching experience of otherness in language and culture.”
(CEFR, 2001, p. 1.)
In spite of the close relationship between language and culture and its huge impact on
constructing our self and the other, the so far mentioned and often deeply rooted attitudes and
beliefs concerning users and the use of English can have a huge influence on a person’s ability
to be proud of their English voice, to speak up in spite of having an accent, or to make other
people heard in communication across cultures.
3. Accents and attitudes
Crystal (2019) clarifies that everyone has an accent and that an accent should be “fostered” and
“respected” as a crucial element of a person’s identity. Moreover, there has always been a
tension between two opposing forces. A person’s authenticity may get in conflict with the
intelligibility of their accent, which is mostly based on standard English as a norm. Crystal
(2019) criticizes the “myth of the native speaker”, and Rosina Lippi-Green (2012), a US-
American sociolinguist, adds the myth of standard English and of non-accent to this list. Myths
are stories with general cultural significance, which are supposed to keep social order. Standard
English is spoken and written by people with superior education, who are supposed to have “no
regional accent”. Myths are at the core of an ideology and empower individuals and institutions.
Lippi-Green (2012) created a model that describes the mechanisms of “accepting or rejecting
the communicative burden”. As a consequence of a speaker’s homeland community, which is
highly influenced by factors like ethnicity, race, religion, gender, region or economics, a person
develops an L1 or L2 accent. The listener carries out a subjective evaluation based on language
ideology filters, which moves on a continuum from positive via neutral to negative. As a
consequence, the listener weighs the pros and cons that may result from this conversation. May
it be worth accepting the communicative burden like making use of active listening strategies?
May it be better to reject it and to make the speaker take over all the responsibility for the
success of this conversation by speaking with an intelligible accent?
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FIGURE 2. ACCEPTING OR REJECTING THE COMMUNICATIVE BURDEN
Source: Lippi-Green (2012)
According to neuroscience, these language ideology filters are also called unconscious or
implicit biases, or stereotypes. Knappitsch (2019) gives an overview of these nearly 200 filters,
which are normally useful tools for our brain to deal with a constantly growing overload of
information by organizing it according to certain categories. Unfortunately, these processes
may also involve mostly unintentional (linguistic) prejudices. Lichterfeld (2020) illustrates that
there have been numerous examples of discrimination based on both “non-standard” and “non-
native” accents and that several researchers came to the conclusion that having a ‘prestige’
accent (e.g., ‘BBC English’ or ‘General American’) will provide people with a 20% higher
income. Furthermore, Lippi-Green (2012) stresses frequent forms of accent discrimination in
the judicial system, employment, and health care and that accentism is often used as a proxy
for racism. In addition to this, she mentions that strengthening a person’s self-perception plays
a crucial role when dealing with internalized racism by quoting Eleanor Roosevelt: “Nobody
can make you inferior without your consent”. Lippi-Green also draws attention to the close
relationship between accent, culture, and mindset:
“The whole concept of units of conversation in which two partners work toward mutual
comprehension assumes a certain state of mind on the part of the participants, and to an
extent the question of skill. Intercultural competence is as crucial to successful
communication as underlying motivation, solidarity or hostility.”
(Lippi-Green, 2012, p. 72.)
Although many institutions and companies have initiated unconscious bias training, especially
after the Black Lives Matter movement, the topic of language and accents seems to have been
overlooked and should be added to the map of diversity and inclusion (Lichterfeld, 2020). After
a lot of criticism concerning the usefulness of unconscious bias training, some organization
including the UK’s civil service cancelled their schemes. David Robson (2021) clarifies,
however, that some of the researcher may not have been interpreted correctly. Diversity training
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does not work as a one-hour “quick fix” but has to be implemented as the “foundation for
broader organisational change” and as an on-going project. Moreover, it should be stressed that
other intersecting forms of oppression (gender, class, nationality, skin colour, age, or sexuality)
are equally important to prevent any form of discrimination or racism and all of them are
necessary to achieve real systemic change. The French government (Willsher, 2020)
demonstrated how this could look like by passing a law, which bans any form of regional accent
prejudice or glottophobia. As a consequence, discrimination based on language use or
characteristics of speech will be treated in the same way as racism or sexism.
The recent anti-racism movement has also started a long overdue discussion about the privileges
of being white. The Canadian linguist Vijay Ramjattan (2019/2020) studies the intersection of
language and race at work and highlights that “hearing accent means hearing race”.
Standardized language is associated with a “native speaker”, which means that nativeness
works as a proxy for whiteness. He highlights that raising awareness of accentism at a personal
level is not enough and suggest striving for structural change. This could include engaging
students in action research like interviewing employers about their hiring practices in their local
communities, and thus achieving change at a micro level. Moreover, any form of workplace
training (for example safety drills or computer courses) should include talking about different
forms of oppression similar to the above-mentioned long-term diversity and inclusion projects.
The linguist Kelly Wright (2019) focuses in her study on raciolinguistic profiling and suggests
taking the following measures:
a) Audit your organizational history, policies, and practices
b) Co-create decolonialized teaching materials and texts
c) Co-create products for the public good
d) Advocate for linguistic justice in migrant and immigrant communities, in the legal and
criminal justice systems, in healthcare.
Gerald, Ramjattan and Stillar (2021) are of the opinion that the topics of racism and whiteness
should be added to language teacher training and that all the white language teachers should be
encouraged to “examine their own Whiteness and how it affects their teaching”. This includes
“re-envisioning classrooms” with regard to dismissing linguistic prescriptivism, which they
compare to a “remnant of what some have called linguistic imperialism (Phillipson, 1992)”.
Merely focusing on descriptivism has been discussed for decades, thus, they are now in favour
of “counterprescriptivism”. As negotiating meaning is comparable to negotiating power,
“unstandardizing English” would mean covering the features of its standardization and the
decision-making processes, why these features are valued higher than others. The students
could also be empowered to move away from monolingual principles and be encouraged to
“use the entirety of their translingual and cultural resources to aid the learning process”. A
further step “rethinking intelligibility” could help students to move their attention to
“By focusing their attention on developing listening, students would appreciate that
certain racialized accents are not inherently unintelligible, but rather made unintelligible
by ears conditioned by ideologies of White supremacy.”
(Gerald, Ramjattan & Stillar, 2021)
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4. Reflective communication with a (B)ELF mindset
After looking at the topics of linguistic diversity, multilingualism, accent prejudice and
linguistic racism from different sociolinguistic perspectives, many valuable contributions can
be added from the research areas of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) and Business English as
a Lingua Franca. In 2000, the linguist Jennifer Jenkins discovered that communication
breakdown was mostly caused by phonological transfer from the L1. Many consider her
development of the Lingua Franca Core as the beginning of the research area ELF. According
to Barbara Seidlhofer (2011), ELF is any use of English as means of communication chosen by
speakers of different L1(s). Cogo (2018) describes ELF as an “open-source phenomenon”,
which is constantly adapted by means of intelligibility and accommodation (Jenkins, 2000) and
gives multilingualism as third characteristic feature. Researchers from a Finnish School of
Business, Kankaanranta and Louhiala-Salminen (2018), stress the close relation between ELF
and BELF. Professionals involved in international business focus on getting the job done and
creating rapport. Moreover, Ehrenreich (2018) emphasises the key role of “communities of
practice”, a concept originally developed by Wenger (1998). Their members are described as
competent and confident users of BELF. Cogo (2018) clarifies that BELF is not a variety. You
cannot teach it, but only adopt a BELF-oriented approach, which is characterized by three
principles: The multilingual principle (English and learner’s L1(s)), the negotiation principle
(effective communication combined with accommodation and intelligibility) and the
intercultural principle (intercultural awareness and competence). A BELF-oriented approach
will be a big change in mindset for all the stakeholders and needs flexible, aware, creative, and
open-minded users of English. (Lichterfeld, 2019).
The CEFR Companion Volume (2020) takes the mentioned societal changes into consideration
and supports the paradigm shifts in many research areas by putting the 21st century learners and
their needs at the centre. They focus on developing character, skills, and knowledge with a
growth mindset within the framework of the 4Cs (collaboration, communication, critical
thinking, and creativity) and meta-learning. The CEFR (2020) puts emphasis on the learner/user
as social agents, who negotiate and co-construct meaning in a specific context to set up
Furthermore, it completely moved away from the native speaker to intelligibility and inclusive
ELF-oriented practices mobilizing general, plurilingual and pluricultural competences by
means of interaction and the now even richer model of mediation based on Vygotsky’s social
constructivist theory. Mediation creates bridges, has a positive impact on relationships, and
creates a safe pluricultural space or a “cultural island” as Schein (2009) calls it. Derwing and
Munro (2015) define intelligibility as “the extent to which a speaker’s message is actually
understood by a listener”. Nevertheless, “just because an L2 accent feature is noticeable, doesn’t
mean that it detracts from intelligibility”. It takes two to tango, as speaking and listening are
inseparably connected. Thus, successful communication highly depends on listener factors like
the ability of decoding authentic, fast, and spontaneous speech, familiarity with different
accents and the listener’s attitudes or willingness to communicate (Piccardo, 2016).
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FIGURE 3. ELEMENTS OF COMMUNICATION
Source: Udemy (2016), CEFR (2020) & Schein (2009)
To sum up, the CEFR (2001) and the CEFR Companion Volume (2020) can be regarded as an
ideal framework for educators and employers to help future and current employees to raise
awareness concerning uses and users of English as a Lingua Franca. Multilingual speakers have
become the new norm and should be empowered to be proud of their English voice and the
richness of their plurilingual and pluricultural heritage. A flexible and open-minded BELF-
mindset will help to get the job done and to invest in trustful relationships without getting lost
in linguistic perfection. Taking over responsibility as a speaker and listener will be necessary
for successful communication across cultures. In spite of a willingness to share the
communicative burden unconscious filters may still cause misunderstandings, unintentional
accent prejudices or linguistic racism. Nonetheless, critical awareness of the close relationship
between language and culture and the tension between identity and intelligibility will help to
add these topics to the map of diversity and inclusion and to achieve a sense of belonging and
wellbeing at an individual and above all at a societal level.
Cogo, A. (2018). Introducing a BELF-oriented approach to language teaching. Malta
Conference Selections 2017. IATEFL BESIG Editorial team, 20-22.
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learning, teaching, assessment. Strasbourg: Language Policy Unit.
Crystal, D. (1999). The future of English(es). English Today 60, 15(2), 10-20. DOI:
14 GiLE Foundation (2021)
Crystal, D. (2003). English as a Global Language. – Second edition. New York: Cambridge
Crystal, D. (2013). Will English always be the Global Language. 28.05.2021. Source:
Crystal, D. (2019). The myth of the native speaker. 28.05.2021. Source: Youtube:
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28.05.2021. Source: CVCE.eu: https://www.cvce.eu/en/education/unit-content/-
Derwing, T.M. & Munro, M.J. (2015). Pronunciation Fundamentals. Evidence-based
perspectives for L2 Teaching and Research. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins
Ehrenreich, S. (2018). Communities of practice and ELF. In: Jenkins, J., Baker, W. and M.
Dewey, M. (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of English as a Lingua Franca. (pp.: 37-50)
London/New York: Routledge.
Gerald, J.P. B., Ramjattan, V. R., & Stillar, S. (May 17, 2021). After Whiteness. 28.05.2021.
Source: Language magazine: https://www.languagemagazine.com/2021/05/17/after-
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Hansen, H. (April 2018). 2 Billion Voices: How to speak bad English perfectly. 28.05.2021.
Jenkins, J. (2000). The Phonology of English as an International Language. Oxford: Oxford
Kankaanranta, A. & Louhiala-Salminen, L. (2018). ELF in the domain of business—BELF:
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Handbook of English as a Lingua Franca. (pp.: 309-332) London/New York: Routledge.
Knappitsch, E. (2019). Understanding Unconscious Bias: Insights from Neuroscience.
Knowledge Bite. SIETAR España Knowledge Bite. 28.04.2021. Source: SietarEspana:
Lichterfeld, K. (2020). Dealing with accent, identity and culture when using ELF. SIETAR
Europa Webinar. 28.05.2021. Source: Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-
Lichterfeld, K. (April 2019). (Business) English as a lingua franca and the CEFR Companion
Volume – Implications for the classroom. HLT Magazine 21(2). 28.05.2021. Source:
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Lippi-Green, R. (2012). English with an Accent. Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in
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IATEFL PronSIG online conference. 28.04.2021. Source: https://pronsig.iatefl.org/wp-
Robson, D. (April 25, 2021). What unconscious bias training gets wrong…and how to fix it.
28.05.2021. Source: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/apr/25/what-
Schein, E. H. (2009). The Corporate Culture Survival Guide. New York: John Wiley & Sons
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16 GiLE Foundation (2021)
Working from home in 2020 – Lessons learned to leverage these
learnings going forward as emerging leaders and a remote office
Business English & Culture,
D(Prof) Student with the University of Chester
This paper summarises some of the data that has been collected and presented in various contemporary
articles on the challenges organisations and office workers have faced while working from home (WFH).
What Bernstein, Blunden, Brodsky, Sohn and Waber call the largest experiment in history has already
produced initial sets of data about how productive the workforce was in their home offices, and how
happy or unhappy employees were while working from home. Productivity and employee happiness
have always been focal points in the discussion about working from home. Before the pandemic hit, one
of the biggest fears in many organisations was that WFH would negatively impact employee
productivity, and employees were likewise sceptical about how one could separate private and working
life in a healthy manner while working from home. The scope of this paper is about how working from
home or anywhere has impacted employees and organizations. The data collected to-date indicates a
decline in wellbeing and engagement and highlights a need for leaders and office workers to become
more adept in managing their needs to continue to thrive in the workplace. Coaching can be one means
to support and enhance this learning and development process and help ease the transition into the
workplace of the future.
Keywords: communication, leading, motivation, relationships, working-from-home, wellbeing,
1. The working-from-home challenge in 2020
The 2020 working-from-home challenge, which was a consequence of the outbreak of the
Covid-19 pandemic, will enter corporate history books as the most successful change initiative
ever in the business world. Change in general is a daunting process, requires considerable
communication and convincing, and still is often not carried out successfully or to the
satisfaction of the change initiators (Musselwhite & Plouffe, 2011; Zhexembayeva, 2020).
Furthermore, the loss of productivity and engagement are often reported as undesired, and yet
not to be avoided, side effects of every change initiative (Kanter, 2009). In 2020 it was different
in so many ways. The changes Covid-19 brought to our professional lives were unplanned, not
communicated and explained by management in advance – it all simply happened and affected
all of us significantly.
The necessity of the measures taken by management, namely, to ask staff to work from home
wherever this was possible, were very rarely questioned–contrary to past experiences in the
corporate world, where both staff and management had reservations around working from home
scenarios for different reasons (Bartik et al., 2020; Desilver, 2020).
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Readiness, as another important driver for every change initiative was fulfilled nearly instantly.
The sceptics among staff and management budged under the huge economic pressure, paired
with the need to ‘survive’, and so left no doubts about the urgency of the measures. It helped
sceptics become, what might be described as Experi-Mentors of an experiment that
Readiness, urgency, and the openness to the experiment – the impact of failure could not be
worse than keeping the status quo – were perfect prerequisites for the launch of a successful
change project. And yet, how successful has it been when looking at the long-term impact
working-from home is making on both the workforce, management, and companies? How
sustainable will the model of working-from-home become going forward? What have
employees and companies learned and how would they like to continue in the future?
The first published research data from companies collected both early, mid, and late 2020 show
mixed results (Bernstein et al., 2020; Velush, Sherman & Anderson, 2020; Campbell &
Gretchen, 2021). On the one side, there was a lot of praise around how well workers and
management were coping with the new ways of working. There was surprise among the sceptics
how little productivity was lost, and how effective businesses remained with their every-day
tasks. The toll that was paid for such high and smooth performance under challenging situations
became visible only later in the year, when Campbell’s and Gretchen’s (2021) study found a
reported 89 % decline in workplace wellbeing. The workforce was suffering in their home
offices with feelings of disconnect, unsustainable workloads, disengagement, and a feeling of
loss of control when it comes to their business and personal lives.
2. What happened to workplace wellbeing and engagement through the lens
Research data collected so far is drawing different pictures of how well the workforce coped
with the working-from-home experience. On the one hand, there are employees who really
enjoy the new status quo and fear the day when they are asked to return to their offices
(Bernstein et al., 2020). Those employees who benefitted from the new “normal”, were able to
swiftly self-regulate and self-manage in such a way that they were able to design a new structure
for their working day at home. It allowed for both: Focused time to work on project tasks –
productive advancements in whatever way their jobs would involve – as well as meetings with
project and team members in order to stay connected and aligned. The connections that were
kept in those times, according to Bernstein et al. (2020), were primarily those that served an
immediate purpose and were connection with a task at hand. What Bernstein et al. (2020) calls
‘weak ties’, were the ones that suffered and were neglected, such as informal encounters which
were nearly completely eliminated during the pandemic.
Research confirms that self-determination, job satisfaction, and meaningful relationships have
positive impacts on engagement and workplace wellbeing. People, who feel engaged, feel good
about the work they do, and vice versa, the job satisfaction they experience, makes them feel
good as an individual (Manganelli et al., 2018). Self-determination and autonomy, however,
also require the ability and capability to self-organize and self-structure. Are these skills taken
for granted across all functions and hierarchies?
What if not everyone in the workplace has those capabilities and skillsets? Self-management
and self-organization are not a given for everyone – especially those that had been micro-
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managed until Covid-19 hit. Regardless of the pandemic, how self-organized staff can work
and proceed, depends on their work contexts, jobs, experiences, supervisors, and personality
among others. Additionally, even for the very experienced workers in the workplace, the
unprecedented circumstances in 2020 were more challenging than before the pandemic.
What if there are managers who have an issue with so much self-determination and have a
feeling, they would like to claim back what used to be attached – in their opinion – to their role,
status, and job description? What if they fall back into their habit to ‘manage’ and ‘organize’
What if employees do not have the infrastructure at home to allow for this best-case scenario
of a working-from-home environment?
Sharing a house or an apartment with family members, kids being home-schooled during the
pandemic, spouses also working from home – factors which influence how easy or difficult it
is to work from home. The lack of high-speed internet or the lack of a quiet room to work from
– any of these can be stressors for those whose wellbeing suffered more during the pandemic
and who are longing for the day when they can return to their offices. What if companies won’t
offer that possibility anymore going forward? What if companies demand everyone back, also
those that have settled in and organized their new way of working and living in a way that their
wellbeing and engagement has increased?
3. What happened to wellbeing and engagement through the lens of companies?
Companies have observed with a huge relief how well and smoothly the transition from working
in the office to working from home went – not in all areas and functions of their businesses of
course, but at least in the majority of the direct and formerly known as white-collar work areas.
Manufacturing and similar areas, such as prototyping, sample building, material handling and
logistics will most likely remain classic on-site jobs, and employees in those areas will very
likely have to return or have already returned to work on-site, whereas office jobs might sooner
or later be replaced by co-working spaces, “hot-desking” arrangements and working-from-
home, working-from-anywhere employment contracts (Bernstein et al., 2020). For companies
and organizations there seem to be a potential for considerable savings when it comes to real
estate costs and office space. “Hot-desking” and other “shift” models, where staff take turns
coming into the office and working from home, have already been put into place for the
transition period of moving some staff back to the office and will probably continue after the
pandemic as well Bernstein et al. (2020); Velush et al. (2020).
What does this mean for staff? Especially for those who were suffering and are longing to return
to their workplaces, either because they need the connection with their co-workers, or they do
not have the perfect work situation at home? Who is going to decide where employees are going
to work after the pandemic? Are these decisions company decisions and taken autocratically –
neglecting the needs of their staff and risking a drop in engagement and wellbeing and thus in
performance and identification (affiliation) with the company? Or are companies maximising
this opportunity to co-create models around organizational and staff needs?
What is certain, is that after the pandemic, it will not be the same as before the pandemic, and
changes are on the horizon when it comes to models of new or future work. Hence, human
resources (HR) policies, processes, and work contracts will need to be adapted, as will training
and upskilling for both those, who are working from home, managing from home, and
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managing in and working with a hybrid workforce (Rothbard, 2020). Governments will be
invited to re-consider tax regulations (Graupner, 2020). Multi-nationals will need to investigate
what these new ways of working mean also when it comes to working across geographical
borders and intercultural differences.
The difficulties companies, governments, and societies are facing with ‘policy’, ‘taxation’ and
‘contracts’ lie in the complexity and the individuality of the issues at hand. Blue collar workers
have less of a choice than white collar workers in terms of equality and equity, when it comes
to who can choose from where to work. For example, there is a diversity of options for the
different employees in their different life situations and circumstances, such as: with family and
without family; with good infrastructure such as internet bandwidth and a private room or office
at home to work from, or not. These options will offer considerable room for discussions and
conversations between the different stakeholders.
Companies, who will unilaterally decide for their workforce what they will offer, might face
the loss of talented employees and a fluctuation in their workforce. Not everyone, asked to
return to the office, will be open to do so. Other companies might offer more flexibility than
their current employer. Companies are even thinking about adapting their payment schemes
depending on whether the workplace is an “at home” or “in the office” workplace, and if it is
at home the payment might even depend on the local costs of living. With it comes the danger
of introducing new inequality and the devaluation of highly skilled workers
(Bernstein et al., 2020).
For executives, managers, and staff alike it will be challenging to navigate and work with a
hybrid work force. The most likely scenario of a hybrid is also the most challenging (Bernstein
et al., 2020). Informal feedback loops, visibility of staff, recognition of accomplishments, talent
and career management will all need to be re-thought and adapted to suit the new ways of
working (Rothbard, 2020). Processes that had been well-established before the Covid-19
pandemic will need to be re-evaluated and adapted (Velush et al., 2020).
4. Models to measure and monitor wellbeing and engagement in the workplace
There are various models in the field of wellbeing and engagement. None are more respected
than the other, according to Christian and Slaughter as cited in an integrative literature review
by Shuck (2011).
Martin Seligman, who is well-known for his work in “Positive Psychology” uses the
1. Positive Emotions
to refer to, what he calls, the elements that contribute to wellbeing. A study by Goodman et al.
(2017) confirms that people who have at least one of the elements of the PERMA model have
the other elements to a similar degree as well (Seligman, 2018). One element of the PERMA
Model for wellbeing is engagement, and hence I would argue that that is an indicator for the
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strong link between the two independent concepts of wellbeing and engagement. When there is
engagement in the workplace, it is very likely that employees feel well about what they do at
work as well; and vice versa, if they feel well because of one of the other dimensions of the
PERMA model, e.g. relationships or accomplishment, it is likely that they also experience
higher levels of engagement.
Shuck (2011) provides an overview of the well-researched engagement models such as Kahn’s
(1990) need-satisfying approach, Maslach et al.’s (2001) burnout-antithesis approach, Harter et
al.’s (2002) satisfaction-engagement approach, and Saks’s (2006) multidimensional approach
(cognitive, emotional and behavioral elements) in his integrative literature review.
The areas in which wellbeing and engagement seem to overlap in the previously mentioned
a) Self-determination (having control over one’s life and work) also referred to as job and
task autonomy; and
b) Relationship and connection, or affiliation.
For HR and Management to allow for conversations to happen about these topics in
organizations – away from purely task-based conversations to conversations that humanize the
workplace, and at the same time will have positive effects and will bring gains on the task side
– is an area that needs more attention and skill development going forward.
Oades et al. (2021) highlight in their research the importance of becoming ‘fluent’ in the
language of wellbeing. Concrete actions in how team leaders and management can create
wellbeing experiences for their staff if literacy in the field of wellbeing is a given. Manganelli
et al. (2018) suggest that managers structure the work environment in such a way that the job
design, interpersonal relationships/leadership and compensation as elements to workplace
wellbeing facilitate what they call need satisfaction (autonomy, competence, relatedness) and
those could be linked to Kahn’s needs satisfying approach in the realm of the engagement
models. Bernstein et al. (2020) recommend that leaders substantially increase their
communication effort and provide more clarity and less ambiguity for their staff. As they see
it, the focus of management will shift towards more communicative actions and supportive
actions than ‘operational’ and ‘managerial activities around tasks”. Hence the skillset of a
manager will morph even more towards leading than managing–more people-oriented
What Kowalski and Loretto (2017) suggest by allowing more contextual approaches than ‘best-
practice’ approaches to foster wellbeing in the workplace sounds like a very valid request. The
differences in needs, both on the individual side of the employees as well on the side of the
organizations and companies, demand a more distinguished and customized dialogue. How can
such a dialogue be initiated?
5. Build literacy and develop skills for the future workplace
Coaches and consultants, who work closely with employees from various backgrounds and
across hierarchical levels, can confirm that a contextual approach – as also suggested by Oades
et al. (2021) – would offer many benefits for staff and companies, and yet could also be seen as
the opening of Pandora’s box with the plurality and individuality of such complex constructs.
When, however, a framework or a model can be used that guides the different stakeholders
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through the process, reflecting together on learnings and best practices for their particular
context, and then having HR and Management design the necessary policies and contracts
around those, could help to re-establish wellbeing and engagement for this new remote or
hybrid work environment.
6. The PPAS Maturity Model®
To support that process, the PPAS Maturity Model®, which looks at the dimensions of:
helps employees and managers alike to gain clarity around those dimensions both from a
personal as well as from an organizational point of view (Figure 1). The PPAS Maturity
Model® can be used at any stage of any change initiative to discover more about the status quo,
plan next steps, and do a retrospective on the lessons learned. The model creates awareness and
is fully customizable to best suit the context of the individual or the company.
By a coach-led and facilitated conversation on what has been working well in each dimension
of the PPAS Maturity Model®; where there is room for improvement, and also acknowledging
that maybe not each and every dimension requires the same level of sophistication and maturity
in the company-specific or employee-specific context, may be a way to a healthier work culture,
in which wellbeing and engagement is not taken as a given but revisited as needed, and re-
adapted as the circumstances and the context for companies and employees change - in a remote
as well as in an on-site work environment or in a hybrid constellation.
FIGURE 1. THE PPAS MATURITY MODEL®
Source: created by the author
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The PPAS Maturity Model® supports the contextual approach suggested by Kowalski and
Loretto (2017) - away from generalizations and one-size-fits all solutions to what works in a
more specific manner in a very specific environment.
The plurality of interests–both for employees and companies – and the stakes in this field – the
wellbeing and engagement levels of the workforce – demand a thorough and structured
approach to these new workplace challenges if wellbeing and engagement levels are to be
maintained and sustained. According to Kolb (1984), reflections around new learnings and new
experiences are best done in a structured manner. Individuals and companies alike are invited
to begin this dialogue now if they haven’t already started it. According to Kowalski and Lorretto
(2017), literacy needs to be established in work settings to allow both managers and employees
to have conversations around wellbeing and engagement–not only because of the new
developments in our future work environment, but even more so because of them. There is no
time to procrastinate these very important conversations.
Bartik, A. W., Cullen, Z. B., Glaeser, E. L., Luca, M., & Stanton, C. T. (2020). What jobs are
being done at home during the COVID-19 crisis? Evidence from firm-level surveys. National
Bureau of Economic Research, 27422, 1-25. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3386/w27422
Bernstein, E., Blunden, H., Brodsky, A., Sohn, W., & Waber, B. (July 15, 2020). The
Implications of Working without an Office. Source: Harvard Business Review:
Campbell, M., & Gretchen, G. (February 10, 2021). What Covid-19 has done to our Well-
Being, in 12 Charts. Source: Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2021/02/what-covid-
Desilver, D. (March 20, 2020). Before the coronavirus, telework was an optional benefit,
mostly for the affluent few. Source: Pew Research Center: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-
Goodman, F., Disabato, D., Kashdan, T., & Kauffman, S. (2017). Measuring well-being: A
comparison of subjective well- being and PERMA. The Journal of Positive Psychology,
13(4), 321-332. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2017.1388434
Graupner, H. (November 18, 2020). Is a tax on people working from home justified? Source:
Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and
Development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Kowalski, T. H. P., & Loretto, W. (2017). Well-being and HRM in the changing workplace.
International Journal of Human Resource Management, 28(16), 2229-2255. DOI:
Manganelli, L., Thibault-Landry, A., Forest, J., & Carpentier, J. (2018). Self-Determination
Theory Can Help You Generate Performance and Well-Being in the Workplace: A Review of
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the Literature. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 20(2), 227-240. DOI:
Kanter, M. R. (August 12, 2009). Change Is Hardest in the Middle. Source: Harvard Business
Musselwhite, C., & Plouffe, T. (July 19, 2011). Communicating Change as Business as
Usual. Source: Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2011/07/communicating-change-as-
Oades, L. G., Jarden, A., Hou, H., Ozturk, C., Williams, P. R., Slemp, G., & Huang, L.
(2021). Wellbeing Literacy: A Capability Model for Wellbeing Science and Practice.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(719), 1-12. DOI:
Rothbard, N. P. (July 15, 2020). Building Work-Life Boundaries in the WFH Era. Source:
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2020/07/building-work-life-boundaries-in-the-wfh-
Seligman, M. (2018). PERMA and the building blocks of well-being. The Journal of Positive
Psychology, 13(4), 333-335. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2018.1437466
Shuck, B. (2011). Integrative Literature Review: Four Emerging Perspectives of Employee
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Velush, S. N., Sherman, K., & Anderson, E. (July 15, 2020). Microsoft Analyzed Data on its
newly remote workforce. Source: Harvard Business Review:
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Change. Source: Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2020/06/3-things-youre-getting-
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Communication problems and solutions faced by Chinese college
students entering the workplace
Óbuda University, Hungary
Óbuda University, Hungary
Óbuda University, Hungary
Óbuda University, Hungary
Communication skills are one of the key competences for employability in the 21st century that
contribute freshly graduates’ successful career at the workplace. Furthermore, effective communication
is one of the necessary competences for interpersonal communication and modern business
management. For college students initially entering the workplace, the skills how to convey information
and how to achieve actionable results at work are part of the key competences for communication and
cooperation with colleagues and superiors at the workplace. It is a prerequisite and basis for decision
making, a tool for unifying thoughts and actions, the key to establishing good interpersonal relationships
and an important cornerstone for achieving harmonious development of the enterprise. This paper
focuses on Chinese graduates entering the workplace as the research object and explores the
communication barriers that hinder effective communication when entering the labor market. The
quantitative research revealed that besides the problems resulted from the lack of communication
awareness, ineffective and poor communication between fresh graduates and superiors at workplace
might be the consequence of the inconsistency of thoughts with the communication targets and of poor
communication skills. By detecting the above communication problems, this paper proposes
communication management actions to mitigate the impacts at the workplace and improve Chinese
students’ communication competences for employability.
Keywords: college students, communication barriers, fresh graduates, internal communication,
workplace communication skills
Communication is handled differently in different cultures and by different generations.
Communication skills acquired through upbringing and education contribute significantly to
the success at workplace and to career building. Next to hard skills and professional knowledge,
personal soft skills like communication skills for employability are becoming more and more
important. Communicating with classmates in school or with colleagues at the workplace after
graduation depends greatly on skill development throughout the years of education. The lack
of interpersonal communication skills is a common problem for graduates with different
cultural and educational background all around the world. It is especially true in China, where
the culture of communication is determined and heavily dependent on the societal pattern and
25 GiLE Foundation (2021)
system. Communication culture is inherited throughout generations and the openness and
internationalization of organizational structures require changed communication attitude and
behavior from freshly graduates at workplaces. Consequently, due to its relevance and urgency,
it is valuable to study the issue based on its broad applicability.
University students first encounter interpersonal communication problems and challenges when
they enter the labor market first, find their first full-time job, which presumably happens during
university studies or after graduation. On leaving university and entering the workplace, seniors
become employees from students, and they are required to learn to change roles. However,
having been accustomed to non-standardised nature of online chatting, most 'freshers' encounter
barriers since they have not been systematically taught the skills of communication. A lot of
students lack the systematic education and training of effective interpersonal communication
with colleagues or supervisors, the right handling of emotion, the correct tone of voice and the
decent logic of words. Communication skills are part of the labor market soft skills-based
competency measurement system that rates four focus areas including: (1) relationship
management, (2) psychology, (3) self-management, and (4) communication and numerical
skills. The complexity of the measurement system proves that communication skills have
become an integral component of the soft skills necessary for success at the workplace and
employees with good communication skills have a better chance to bridge communication gap
and mitigate problems occurring from communication misunderstanding (Tóth, Lendvai, &
Beke, 2021). Newly recruited freshmen might raise the question whether the supervisor
understands what they are saying in communication sensitive situations and a freshman well-
trained in personal skills will have proper communication skills to resolve the situation. In the
course of the research, a questionnaire was developed based on the existing situation to
understand the difficulties encountered by fresh graduates entering the Chinese labor market
and their expectations of resolution of communication problems. This paper presents the
findings of the survey, gives the characteristics of today's university students, the problematic
communication situations, the modes of mitigation of such situations with the aim of helping
new graduates to improve on communication competences and provide best practices to become
an efficient and successful communicator at the workplace.
2. Research questions and aims
The main research focuses on the following questions and aims to find answers to the following:
(1) what the biggest communication problems are that Chinese college students face when
entering the workplace; (2) whether personality differences affect communication fluency; (3)
whether communication awareness plays an important role in mitigation of communication
conflicts; and finally (4) whether communication skills need to be taken into account by
companies when training new employees. The research aims to help Chinese graduates entering
the workplace to identify their own communication problems, find suitable solutions and
responsive techniques while improving their communication skills.
The rest of the paper is organized as follows: Section 3 presents the literature review, Section
4 characterizes the students in the survey, Section 5 calls attention to the communication skills
deficiencies of the Chinese students in the survey while Section 6 and 7 outline some
recommendations and draw conclusions.
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3. Literature review
The importance of communication in the workplace cannot be overstated, many scholars have
conducted in-depth investigations and studies on this area. Fitsimmons (Fitsimmon, 2014)
defined the elements of the communication process, showed the most likely problem points in
the communication process, and discussed what good communication practices look like. The
results show that (1) the key to good communication practices is a strong relationship of trust
between communicators, that (2) good communication habits affect productivity, which in turn
affects the bottom line, and that (3) workplace relationships affect the quality of workplace
communication. Chan, Yedder and Vipulakom (Chan, Yedder, & Vipulakom, 2020) had
surveyed 795 college students from China, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates, and
explored the relationship between college students' work values, job quality expectations and
work communication environment. The results showed that work values had a significant effect
on the job quality expectations and workplace communication environment, highlighting the
importance of job quality and workplace communication environment as important motivators
in the workplace. Masatsugu, Chihiro, Yurio et al. (Masatsugu, et al., 2020) also pointed out
that well-managed workplace communication can promote good mental health of employees
while only communication with supervisors or managers in the workplace can lead to lower
psychological stress, even after drastic changes in the workplace.
It is well known that communication in the workplace is very important, but when looking at
the global workplace, it seems that there are problems with communication that cannot be
ignored. Jelani and Nordin (Nordin & Jelani, 2019) interviewed 41 employees in a Malaysian
company and concluded that the respondents agreed that language barriers such as not
understanding or being unfamiliar with the terms or jargon used by another individual, and the
physical environment such as nearby sounds interrupting the respondents' concentration during
communication can lead to miscommunication in the workplace. Jenifer and Raman (Jenifer &
Raman, 2015) describe five common communication barriers in the cross-cultural workplace,
the first being misunderstandings in communication due to differences in values and beliefs and
cultural backgrounds. The second is the lack of understanding due to different definitions of
norms and roles in different cultures. The third is the inability to communicate effectively
because of a lack of understanding of each other's beliefs and values. The fourth is
communication barriers due to stereotypes and lack of understanding of each other's culture.
The fifth is anxiety due to ethnocentrism, which leads to miscommunication. Meanwhile,
Wilczewski, Søderberg and Gut (Wilczewski, Søderberg, & Gut, 2018) point out that in
multinational companies, expatriates' low proficiency in the host language is a serious obstacle
to their expatriate socialization, which also leads to exclusion and social isolation in the
workplace, thus these lead to stress, frustration, and a negative attitude toward working with
local personnel. In addition, language barriers prevent expatriates from receiving information
from their supervisors, understanding team issues, and participating in decision-making.
When confronted with communication issues, there are often major differences in the
communication cultures displayed by the West and China. Yang (Yang, 2014) found that the
level of emotional arousal in Chinese and Western cultures is quite different. Western cultures
will directly express their own opinions and try to influence others, while eastern cultures will
adjust to others in order to express respect and politeness. Chen (Chen M.-J. , 2015) believes
that in Western cultures managers view business communication as an exchange of information
27 GiLE Foundation (2021)
that often ends when the transaction is completed. The Chinese, on the other hand, view
communication as an integral part of building and maintaining long-term relationships.
Although there are cultural differences in communication between China and the West,
communication problems at the workplace arise within the same culture but between different
generations. Regardless of culture, when college students first enter the workplace all over the
world, they might encounter internal communication problems that are a hurdle they cannot
overcome in their careers. Since this research focuses on Chinese college students, more
literature was reviewed narrowing down the population.
Using newly employed college students in China as the study population, Bai Yanhong (Bai,
2019) found that they often lack expression ability and argument skills. The lack of
communication skills also leads to the problem of internal communication when college
students enter the workplace. Liu Wei (Liu, 2020) created the employment pressure scale,
combined with four aspects of psychology, family, lack of help, frustration experience, more
comprehensively considered the factors affecting the communication problems of
contemporary college students, making the data more real. With the continuous development
and strengthening of enterprise management system, the role of effective communication in
enterprises is highlighted. Qu (Qu, 2011) believes that due to the time and family factors,
contemporary college students may be self-centered and have shallow team consciousness. Li
(Li D. , 2017) also believes that the main reason for communication barriers is that
contemporary college students pay more attention to themselves and emphasize the awareness
of personal rights and interests. Chen and Chen (Chen & Chen, 2010) proposed that college
students who have just entered the workplace will have a sense of occupational insecurity
because they do not understand the organization and other members, which also causes internal
communication barriers to a certain extent. Zhai and Guo (Zhai & Guo, 2014) believe that the
traditional Chinese family education and the old school education mode make children's
thoughts and expression always in a state of being suppressed. This makes it appropriate for
students to enter the workplace due to the lack of awareness of active communication and cause
internal communication barriers. Li and Tang (Li & Tang, 2017) and others analyzed the
meaning and importance of management communication, found out the causes of ineffective
communication in enterprises, and put forward corresponding countermeasures. Liang (Liang,
2012) analyzed the living environment, era background, ideological characteristics and
behaviors patterns of contemporary college students. On how to improve the effective
communication with contemporary college students, in order to better promote the development
of enterprises, this paper puts forward corresponding opinions and suggestions to the enterprise
management. Li (Li J. , 2017) put forward the corresponding management countermeasures by
analyzing the problems existing in the current enterprise management communication in China.
The purpose is to achieve the unity of enterprise strategic objectives, improve employee
satisfaction and sense of belonging.
3.1. Data and Methods
The adequately chosen research method can make twice the result with half the effort, better
reflect the characteristics of the data, more clearly analyze the fluctuations caused by the data
and explain the causes in conjunction with relevant professional theories. Through a survey of
Chinese and foreign literature, information has been obtained in order to have a comprehensive
and correct understanding of the issues to be studied. The relevant information on
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communication barriers has been collected, compared, analyzed and summarized. The research
used quantitative analysis with the use of an online questionnaire. Self-administered online
questionnaire was developed to collect data of Chinese and international students. The
questionnaire was developed in Chinese and in English. Questionnaires are a tool used in social
surveys to measure respondents' behavior, attitudes, social characteristics or to collect other
information. A pilot test of the survey was run to confirm the validity of the questionnaire, using
several random university students from China. The questions were revised after the pilot
testing was completed. The targeted respondents received the online questionnaire via wjx.cn
– a Chinese online questionnaire design tool called ‘sojump’, - and were asked to spend from 5
to 7 minutes answering the questions. Apart from single and multiple-choice questions, the
survey tool of Likert scale ranging from 1-5 was applied. The online questionnaire data
collection resulted on 201 responses, 190 of them were valid responses from Chinese students.
Due to the scarce number of responses from international students, they were excluded from
the analysis. The research applied convenient type sampling via social media, email, and online
apps, which failed to ensure representativeness, but the number of responses allowed the
researchers to draw conclusions on the sample of Chinese students. Due to the limitations in
the research, it has not allowed generalizations about the Chinese population of students, but it
gives ground to further research in international field.
Quantitative analysis was conducted to analyze the collected data, applying descriptive
statistics, mainly percentages to show the most important factors of inefficient communication
and self-assessment. The quantitative analysis can provide some assurance of the authenticity
of the data. Inductive reasoning method has been used to reveal common characteristics and
common problems that can result from inadequate and scarce communication skill
development. The method applied helps the authors to give recommendations and outline best
practices to overcome communication problems at the workplace.
4. Characteristics of Contemporary College Students in China
4.1. Demographic profile of students
With the progress of society and the development of science and technology, contemporary
college students get more opportunities for higher quality education. Among the 190 students
in this survey, two-thirds of the respondents were female (64.74%), 94.22% of them have
bachelor's degree or above, and their majors are related to various fields such as natural sciences
(32.63%), humanities and social sciences (31.58%), medical, engineering and so on (Table 1).
Students in the survey are evenly distributed between the age group 18-23 and 24-29 so the
respondents are either university students or young adults in the labor market. 66.32% of them
finished undergraduate studies and 25.78% of them graduated with master’s degree.
TABLE 1. DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF RESPONDENTS
Does not wish to say
29 GiLE Foundation (2021)
Doctor or above
Humanities and Social Sciences
Other (please specify)
Source: wjx output
4.2. Self-assessment of personality
The living environment of contemporary college students is more superior. They have become
the center of their families since they were born, and they are used to paying more attention to
themselves (Qu, 2011). They prefer to emphasize subjective feelings and individual
consciousness, and it is difficult for them to objectively accept other people's criticism and
suggestions. Almost half of the student respondents (46.32%) assess themselves as having an
open personality – both introvert and extrovert personality – assuming that their communication
skill have improved (Table 2). However, one quarter of the Chinese students are introvert
(26.84%) and one quarter of them are extrovert (21.05%).
TABLE 2. RESPONDENTS’ PERSONALITY SELF-ASSESSMENT
Both inside and outside
I don't know
Source: wjx output
In this survey, students were asked to rate how they react to constructive criticism on a Likert
scale from “totally disagree” to “totally agree”. 38.43% of the students agreed that they
sometimes ignored or contradicted the constructive opinions or criticisms given by others (Figure 2) thus causing poor
communication. Only 21.05% disagreed with the statement while the majority 40.53% could not decide (marked “neutral”).
They don't like dogmatic indoctrination and rigid teaching methods. They like to show their ideas freely, pursuit independent
thinking, form opinions through argument and collision. But because they are too self-centered, lack of team consciousness,
interpersonal coping ability and psychological endurance are relatively weak. 42.11% of the students have said when there is
a certain prejudice against certain people or things, it will lead to ineffective communication (Source: wjx output
Figure 3), while only 16.85% disagree. 41.05% did not consider preconceptions as a cause of
30 GiLE Foundation (2021)
FIGURE 2. RESPONSES TO “SOMETIMES IGNORE OR RESIST THE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM GIVEN
BY OTHERS” ON A LIKERT SCALE WHERE 1 MEANS “TOTALLY DISAGREE” AND 5 EQUALS
Source: wjx output
FIGURE 3. RESPONSES TO “SOME PEOPLE OR SOME THINGS HAVE CERTAIN PREJUDICES
RESULTING IN POOR COMMUNICATION WITH EACH OTHER.” ON A LIKERT SCALE WHERE 1 MEANS
“TOTALLY DISAGREE” AND 5 MEANS “TOTALLY AGREE”
Source: wjx output
The two figures with the relatively high percentage of “neutral” answer reflect to the even
distribution of introvert and extrovert personalities with a double share of responses claiming a
mixed personality of introvert and extrovert.
4.3. Self-assessment on communication skills
Students were asked whether they attach importance to communication skills. The responses
ranged from “I don’t value communication skills at all,” to “I place great importance on
communication skills”. More than half of the respondents (57.89%) place importance to
communication skills while 30.53% of them are indifferent, and only 11.58% of the respondents
do not consider communication skills valuable (Table 3).
31 GiLE Foundation (2021)
TABLE 3. RESPONSES TO THE VALUE OF COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Do you think you attach importance to communication
I don’t value communication skills at all.
I value communication skills to a small degree.
Communication skills are indifferent for me.
I place some importance on communication skills.
I place great importance on communication skills.
Source: wjx output
Students think that conversation content (63.68%), expressions (87.37%), the tone of voice
(72.63%) and other details of action are all important aspects of good communication and
45.26% of them think that their communication skills are general, 27.89% and 4.74% of them
consider themselves as good and very good communicators and 15.79% of them think their
communication skills could be improved. Almost three quarters of the students faced inability
to communication equally due to lack of self-confidence (72.63%).
4.4. Anxiety factor of communication
The network age is the main characteristic of the living environment of people. The
convenience of the network makes them obtain information more quickly, have more rich
knowledge, broader vision and more active thinking. Among them, 26.84% and 21.05% of them
are either introverted or extroverted, respectively, and most of them are both introverted and
extroverted (Table 2). On the other hand, due to excessive dependence on the Internet, they
have a sense of emptiness while knowing a lot of information. They either indulge in online
chat or games to seek spiritual sustenance or escape from society and family because they can't
get a sense of identity in real life (Liang, 2012). In this survey, 93.68% of the students will feel
psychological anxiety because of poor communication, within which 37.89% often and 28.42%
regularly feel anxiety due to poor communication. Moreover, 30.53% of the students said they
would only confide their thoughts and secrets to those friends who had been together for a long
time and thought they were reliable.
5. Problems with internal communication
The following chapter focuses on communication problems that freshly graduated students in
China face at workplaces. The chapter examines what barriers and factors students are aware
of that could hinder effective communication. Furthermore, the lack of awareness and poor
communication skills will also be studies based on the responses. The barriers listed by the
students included (1) different attitude personalities or positions of the parties in
communication, i.e., the inconsistency of thoughts, (2) the lack of communication awareness
as well as the lack of comfortable communication atmosphere and (3) the inefficient
communication skills (Table 4).
32 GiLE Foundation (2021)
TABLE 4. IN THE PROCESS OF INTERNAL COMMUNICATION, THE MAIN REASON THAT CAUSES
COMMUNICATION BARRIERS ARE...
The main reason that causes communication barriers
1. different attitudes, personalities or positions of both parties
(inconsistency of thoughts)
2. no communication awareness as well as communication
atmosphere, feel no need, too lazy to communicate
3. communication skills are not high
other (please specify)
Source: wjx output
5.1. Inconsistency of thoughts between communicating parties at workplace
According to the survey questionnaire, the biggest communication problem faced by college
students who have just entered the workplace is the inconsistency of their ideas with the people
they communicate with. Contemporary college students are advanced and independent in their
thinking. Growing up in the era of collision of cultural trends, Chinese college students pay
more attention to themselves, which is manifested by having the right to self-decision, attaching
importance to personal privacy, strong awareness of personal rights and interests, and having a
deeper understanding of themselves (Li D. , 2017). The vast majority of the respondents
advocate individualized thinking and lifestyle, as shown in Table 4Error! Reference source
not found., according to the results 74.21% of the respondents have responded that they have
obvious communication barriers when facing people with different personalities and attitudes
College students who are new to the workplace are still in the exploratory stage of their own
careers, and as such they can develop career insecurity because they do not understand their
situation toward the organization and other members (Chen & Chen, 2010). The psychological
disconnection caused by the different status of organization members is a relatively common
communication barrier, which is also known as Status Differential Effect (SDE) (Li Y. , 2014),
and college students entering the workplace are more likely to have inferiority complex, fear
and obedience psychology toward their superiors. In addition, at the beginning of their careers,
freshly graduated have not yet established a basic mutual trust relationship with their peers, and
they carry psychological defences in the process of communication with their peers. This fear
of superiors and mistrust among peers lead to the problem of communication barriers arising
from inconsistent ideas with the communication targets, which is especially prominent when
they face leaders and peers. As shown in Table 5. 66.32% of the respondents facing their
superiors and 47.37% of the respondents facing members of the same level are easily hindered
by communication due to different levels or ideological differences, values and other reasons.
TABLE 5. WHO IS THE HARDEST TO COMMUNICATE WITH
Who is the hardest to communicate with
The superior leadership
Colleagues at the same level in the department, peers
Other (please specify)
Source: wjx output
33 GiLE Foundation (2021)
In case of communication with the superiors, according to the responses over 50% of the
starting workers faced situations in which the work guidance given by the superior was not
quite in line with the actual situation of the work and it was difficult to follow the guidance and
also over 50% of the respondents did not know how to finish the work assigned by the superior
and were afraid to ask the superiors. In 43.68% superiors asked for adjustments and
modifications after the job was done properly (Table 6).
TABLE 6. AMBIGUOUS COMMUNICATION SITUATIONS WITH SUPERIORS
My suggestions are not easy to be accepted.
I don't know how to finish the work assigned by my
superiors, but I am afraid to ask my superiors.
The work guidance given by my superior is not quite in
line with the actual situation of my work, and it is difficult
to implement according to the guidance.
After doing something well according to the superior's
requirements, the superior asked me to make repeated
adjustments and modifications.
None of the above.
Other (please specify)
Source: wjx output
Regarding communication situations with peers, over 50% of the respondents found that the
work requirements by colleagues from other departments were not clear and consistent, and
46.32% of them found deadlines unmeetable and approximately the same percentage of
respondents could rarely have the opportunity to communicate across departments while when
there was a dispute the solution was difficult to reach (Table 7Table 7).
TABLE 7. AMBIGUOUS COMMUNICATION SITUATIONS WITH PEERS
Colleagues in other departments with the completion of
the work often cannot be completed as scheduled or cannot
achieve the expected results.
The work requirements given by colleagues in other
departments are not very clear and consistent.
Rarely have the opportunity to communicate across
Communication process when there is a dispute, the
solution is difficult to reach agreement.
None of the above situations have occurred.
Other (please specify)
Source: wjx output
As responses show several ambiguous communication situations freshly graduates observe and
perceive, however, they cannot always resolve and mitigate these situations due to lack of
communication awareness and/or lack of effective communication skills. The following
subchapters discuss these issues.
34 GiLE Foundation (2021)
5.2. No awareness of communication
The second major communication problem faced by college students who have just entered the
workplace nowadays is that most of college students have no communication consciousness.
Traditional Chinese family education and the old indoctrination education mode in primary and
secondary schools have to a certain extent lead to and resulted in the current situation, namely
that college students have little communication awareness. In today's Chinese family, although
parents care about their children a lot and even consider children upbringing as the only
important commitment in their lives, majority of parents find themselves in difficulties in
getting along with their children equally in terms of ideas and beliefs, and most of them still
stand up for the traditional education mode. As a result, children's thoughts and expressions are
always suppressed. In primary and secondary education, quality education is often not really
implemented, and indoctrination education is still the mode of education adopted by most
schools at this stage, with schools and parents still focusing on academic performance, and
students generally do not have their own independent thoughts, which eventually leads to the
loss of active communication (Zhai & Guo, 2014). In this educational environment, students
are often afraid of making mistakes, and some students may even mistakenly believe that they
are humiliated and useless because of a communication failure, such as being ridiculed by their
classmates, and lose their so-called “self-esteem”, thus considering themselves as people that
others do not want to accept. Over time, introverted students and students who lack self-
confidence develop the habit of “not wanting to communicate” (Zhou & Wang, 2013).
The communication problems at workplaces between freshly graduates entering the labour
market and the superiors at workplaces can be justified by China’s high power distance (80),
high Long-term orientation (87) and high Masculinity (66) cultural dimension score, in contrast
with low Individualism (20), low Uncertainty Avoidance (30) and low Indulgence (24) scores
(HofstedeInsights, 2021) as seen on Figure 4. China’s high power distance score implies that
hierarchy is respected, subordinate-superior distance is high, formal authority is accepted. Due
to high long-term orientation score in China “people believe that truth depends very much on
situation, context and time” (HofstedeInsights, 2021).
FIGURE 4. CULTURAL DIMENSIONS - CHINA
Source: (HofstedeInsights, 2021)
35 GiLE Foundation (2021)
Moreover, high masculinity calls for a success -oriented and -driven society. Young graduated
Chinese care a lot about their success, they have the motivation to become successful at work,
which can be achieved through better communication with superiors and peers thus the
communication awareness must be improved. Due to the low score in individualism young
employees are brought up to act and communicate in the interest of the groups which does not
require as much communication awareness for young workers to communicate for themselves.
Low uncertainty avoidance enforces ambiguity in which Chinese are comfortable with, the
Chinese language uses complex expressions and pictographs/ideograms with ambiguous
meanings that can lead to misunderstandings in communication. As Indulgence concerned the
low score assumes that China is a restrained society in which the control over the gratification
of desires is present (HofstedeInsights, 2021).
On the other hand, many college students who are starting to enter the workplace begin to
awaken their self-awareness, they pay more attention to subjective feelings but lack the
awareness of communication, they are too lazy to communicate or even avoid communication,
and as a result, they can avoid internal communication. Table 4 presents that the proportion of
Chinese college students who have initially entered the workplace without communication
awareness is as high as 64.21%.
5.3. Poor communication skills
Good communication skills often enable both sides to communicate better to transmit and
receive information, thus making the communication effect twice as effective with half the
effort, so good communication skills are indispensable in the workplace. However, as shown in
Table 4, according to the survey data, 47.37% of college students who have just started their
careers have communication problems due to their poor communication skills. They lack
effective expression skills and proper arguing skills, etc. (Bai, 2019). Three options of the great
difficulties they can encounter in internal communication were selected by over 55% of the
respondents (1) properly resolve objections in communication, (2) accurately understand the
views of others, (3) correctly and clearly state their views while 45.79% find difficult to
communicate with people of different personalities and 37.37% of them have difficulties to
persuade and influence other (Table 8).
TABLE 8. DIFFICULTIES MET IN INTERNAL COMMUNICATION
Difficulties encountered in internal communication…
correctly and clearly state their views
accurately understand the views of others
properly resolve objections in communication
persuade and influence others
communicate with people of different personalities
other (please specify)
Source: wjx output
6. Solutions and suggestions to the communication problems
With more and more graduates entering the workplace, a new generation of young people have
become the main force of the industry and enterprises in China. Consequently, HR concerns
have arisen, and human resource managers need to find alternative ways to adopt to the changed
36 GiLE Foundation (2021)
situation. In order to make graduates better adapt to the workplace environment after
graduation, this paper gives the following suggestions to improve communication skills and
help more effective communication at workplaces.
6.1. Student perspectives
6.1.1. Higher attention to self-communication, clear self-positioning
New employees in the workplace should pay attention to modest communication in their study.
The survey found that some graduates think they have accumulated a lot of social experience
in the university and have good communication skills, but in the process of communication in
the actual work, they often cause unnecessary misunderstanding. Therefore, graduates should
interact with their superiors and colleagues and participate in group activities to build the same
values as the members of the organization. There are also some students who are over modest
and prudent, they lack self-confidence and think they have poor communication skills. In the
process of communication, they are too nervous and anxious (Gao & Hu, 2021). Therefore,
graduates should have a correct self-positioning, peace of mind, to maintain polite respect for
the elders to ask questions. And graduates should also make sure that they do not make excuses
for mistakes and accept the criticism and suggestions of the leaders with an open mind (Table
9). 40% of the students expect more training to increase knowledge on communication.
TABLE 9. EFFECTIVE WAYS TO IMPROVE INTERNAL COMMUNICATION
Effective ways to improve internal communication
Emphasis on self-communication clear self-positioning.
Make yourself able to use the appropriate communication
methods to achieve the purpose of communication.
Communicate more with superiors and colleagues and
participate in collective activities to build the same values
as members of the organization.
Attend more seminars and trainings on the topic of
communication to develop communication knowledge.
Attend more lectures and training about Communication
Science to increase knowledge of communication.
Other (please specify)
Source: wjx output
6.1.2. Listening and emotional sensitivity and clarification
On the other hand, to build rapport with the superiors and peers, students believe that listening
carefully to different views, to emotional reactions of the parties and completely clear the facts
in the situation are all important for effective communication at workplace (Table 10) that
should be followed.
TABLE 10. IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF COMMUNICATION
Important aspects of communication to express
Completely clear the facts of the situation
Listen carefully to the different views of the
Take care of the emotional reactions of the communication
Trying to understand the different values that appear in the
Source: wjx output
37 GiLE Foundation (2021)
However, next to face-to-face communication (74.21%) the second most preferable form of
communication of the respondents is SMS/QQ/MSN/microblogging and other instant
communication which allows for self-expressions and self-assurance, helps to improve self-
confidence and self-esteem but does not allow for careful listening and better understanding of
emotional reactions (Table 11).
TABLE 11. PREFERRED INTERNAL COMMUNICATION FORMS
Preferred internal communication forms
SMS / QQ / MSN / microblogging and other instant
Other (please specify)
Source: wjx output
6.1.3. Communication skills expected to be trained
Even though the survey showed that freshly graduates need better listening skills and empathy
in the course of internal communication only half of the respondents would like to get more
training on listening skills as well as arguing skills. However, 77.89% of them would like to be
trained more in how to express themselves (Table 12). Students mention persuasive abilities
and some training on handling communication situations without becoming nervous as well.
TABLE 12. PREFERRED TYPES OF COMMUNICATION TRAINING
Types of communication skills preferred to be trained
Other (please specify)
Source: wjx output
6.2. Enterprise perspective
6.2.1. Better understanding of college students
Many people regard that college students only think of their personality, strong self-awareness,
no team spirit, difficult to manage. But in fact, it is not comprehensive to look at them from this
perspective. They can quickly accept new things, and have strong learning ability, active
thinking and rich creativity, which cannot be ignored. Therefore, in order to have a good
communication with contemporary college students and improve their communication ability,
enterprises must change the stereotype of them and if necessary, enterprises should also hold
communication-themed related lectures and relevant trainings to improve college students'
communication skills while taking the opportunity to have a correct and comprehensive
understanding of this generation (Li & Tang, 2017).
38 GiLE Foundation (2021)
6.2.2. Changed management style
News about the high turnover rate of contemporary college students has emerged in recent years
(Li D. , 2017). Employers should analyze the essential reasons. After all, more and more young
people will become the backbone of the workplace. Because most of them have received
systematic education, have certain professional skills, and they are eager for innovation, so the
authoritative leadership will make them feel bound. Therefore, when facing them, enterprises
should abandon the rigid management system, pay attention to the communication and
exchange with employees, listen to their real ideas and suggestions, and enhance the sense of
belonging of employees (Li J. , 2017).
This paper focuses on internal communication problems at the workplace where freshly
graduated workers are employed. The research conducted among Chinese college students
collected 190 responses and aimed to reveal the causes of inefficient communication problems
at workplaces and strives to recommend some solutions being either attitude change or
communication skill trainings.
This paper adopts quantitative research method by means of a questionnaire survey to discover
and summarize the characteristics of contemporary college students who are highly educated
and have high learning ability, but are too much in pursuit of independent thinking, lack of team
consciousness, and lack of confidence in communicating with the outside world although they
easily accept new things. The paper analyses the problems faced by the contemporary college
students in internal communication, such as inconsistency with the communication target, lack
of communication awareness and lack of communication skills. Finally, according to the above
internal communication problems faced by college students, this paper suggests some solutions
Firstly, college students should give themselves a clear position in the enterprise and cultivate
communication awareness, communicate moderately, and build the same values as the
organization members; secondly, enterprises should change the stereotypes of college students,
discover the advantages of college students, take the initiative to communicate with college
students, and if necessary, hold communication-themed related lectures and relevant trainings
to improve the communication skills of college students. Finally, the leaders of enterprises
should try to avoid rigid management system and adopt more personalized management to
understand the inner thoughts of college students and avoid communication barriers to the
With more and more young people entering the workplace, effective communication between
enterprises and employees is particularly important. Employers should correctly recognize the
unique way of thinking and personality characteristics of contemporary college students and
recognize their advantages. At the same time, contemporary college students should also form
a correct self-positioning in the workplace, find a suitable way of communication, so as to
achieve the purpose of effective communication and ensure the steady development of
enterprises (Wang, 2017).
39 GiLE Foundation (2021)
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42 GiLE Foundation (2021)
Hate speech toward youngsters in online media
PhD Candidate, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary
Student in the program called “Creative Industries”, Latvia,
Volunteer at the youth center of Salacgriva
European Solidarity Corps Volunteer at Young Folks LV, youth organisation based in Riga,
Graphic designer, teacher and non-formal education trainer, member of Compagnons
Bâtisseurs, youth association based in Belgium
The 21st century has come and is ahead of us, presenting fast changes in people's ways to interact while
witnessing massive progress in media and communication. Generation Z, born in 1995, has by now
become part of our societies' young workers force at a time when the internet was already well installed.
Their progeny, the alpha generation (born after 2010), is part of an ultra-connected world, their parents
have been documenting their lives from early birth. In 2020, when the mondial pandemia started
spreading, it became a worldwide urge and need to communicate online. To confront the massive
societal transformations, education may be getting late raising voices about these virtual relationships
and interactions. How does hate speech appear and spread in these conditions? Where to set boundaries
when the “ghost is in the wire” and may remain anonymous? Who should we turn to, who is responsible
for social media? What are the consequences of mental health? Eventually, which solutions can we,
youth workers, implement to support youngsters and prevent hate speech from raising? Those are the
questions we wish to investigate.
Keywords: education, hate speech, online media, transformations, youngsters
Starting from the beginning of the 21st century, the internet has drastically changed modern
communication and culture. Its main idea and decentralized nature make it an excellent place
for any person to share their knowledge, ideas, beliefs and worldviews. Nowadays, many
youngsters have constant access to the internet, and most of them are active on social media
platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok and the like. According to the European
Union’s Kids Online Study, 82 percentage of adolescents aged 15 up to 16 have a profile on
social networking websites (Wachs et al., 2021).
Even though all social media platforms have a leading role in connecting people and generate
many interactions, unfortunately, these popular websites are full of harmful and often hateful
content. It starts from disinformation, goes to fierce political debates and ends with hate towards
minorities or aggressive behaviour in the comment section. Nevertheless, those most prominent
43 GiLE Foundation (2021)
and most influential social media companies, such as Facebook, Google or Twitter, have
policies concerning whether or not hateful content forms are allowed on their page. Quite often,
these rules are performed inconsistently and oftentimes are vague and ambiguous. They could
be hard to understand for regular users. In addition, most of the hate content is not being filtered.
There are special moderators, who look for inappropriate content, tend to filter or ban hostile
users. Unfortunately, it is still far from being enough. Solutions might emerge from reaching a
level of sophisticated AI that automatically screens most of the content. Since then, education
and prevention might be a fair start.
As depicted on the following chart, based on the data gathered from 2015 to 2019, the most
active group on social media are youngsters (Shenton & Dixon, 2004). In a highly fragile age,
this media consumption makes them the primary audience and target of hate speech online.
FIGURE 1. SOCIAL MEDIA USE BY AGE
Source: Pew Research Center, 2021
2. Ins and outs
Exposure to online hate among young social media users is a valid concern. The collective
identity generated by social media through the world is being shown as a welcoming place for
the individuals with common interests, giving them opportunities to become part of a bigger
network and community to belong to. However, one big issue with social media is the unnamed,
unrecovered position, which creates a space where hate speech spreads easily, without
consequences (Paz, Montero-Díaz & Moreno-Delgado, 2020).
A psychological process, called online disinhibition, is the lack of restraint one feels when
communicating online compared to speaking in person. That has results to increase toxicity and
lower empathy among online users. Academics, authors and influential people nowadays
discuss the presence and consequences of hatred on the internet. Most of the research conducted
has been mainly focused on the long-term results of hateful content, depicting that it could
reinforce discriminatory views. Data show that access to aggressive and hateful speeches may
heavily influence the probability of users engaging in violent or malicious behaviour. However,
44 GiLE Foundation (2021)
it would be interesting to investigate further the factors that may bring an exposed individual
taking hateful actions and the substantial damages of such exposure.
3. How hate speech affects youngsters
One in ten British children aged between 8 up to 11 testify they had seen nasty or worrying
content online, when one-third aged between 12 up to 15 have encountered sexist, racist or
discriminatory contents (Eisen, Matthews & Jirout, 2021; Meherali et al., 2021).
Hate speech in social media may have heavy and long-term impacts on people's mental health,
especially if one is a direct victim, not just an observer. However, it is hard to judge an objective
severity of different situations on the internet, as the initial psychological and physical well-
being may change the results of observations drastically.
Some of the most common health problems encountered by youngsters experiencing or
witnessing online hate regularly may be low self-esteem, insomnia, high anxiety, fears and
insecurities (Oh et al., 2019; Gale, 2020).
Victims may develop a sense of loneliness or isolation. More potential outcomes could be
feelings of depression, social anxiety, self-doubt, and lack of confidence identified in
psychological well-being (Selma, 2019).
Additionally, teenagers who observe online hate speech may feel the violation of their dignity
without seeing themselves as good, corresponding to some socio-cultural norms in society.
Physical harms that may occur in those circumstances go from self-depreciation to self-harm,
such as mutilation and dramatic suicides.
Although youngsters understand that they might need support in difficult situations and identify
sources of support - may it be their parents, friends or teachers - sometimes, they cannot seek
help. That is due to the fear of being misunderstood or even of being rejected, denied. They
might also feel deeply ashamed or embarrassed. Consequently, they usually prefer to handle
those incidents on their own, enclosing themselves from external support.
Besides the fact that hate speech affects each youngster differently and individually, it also has
a significant impact on society. Regular hate may lead to a disguised norm in our communities
and increase intolerance, discrimination and hateful behaviours in daily life. This problem also
lower teenager’s freedom of speech, which may stop sharing their opinions, influencing
relationships and democracies (Costello & Hawdon, 2020).
In addition, online hate may also make our society more anxious, fearful and xenophobic. That
may lead to hostility and raise prejudices towards nations when people get offended. Instead of
deconstructing those preconceptions, it may reinforce them (Schoenbeck et al., 2021).
The most visible intervention of online hate speech is cyberbullying. Fifty-nine percent of U.S.
teens, one out of two, give testimonies of being bullied or harassed online. Most of those
experiences are happening on Instagram, more than on any other platform.
One out of five youngsters happened to skip school because they were victims of cyberbullying.
It has been linked to teen depression and can even result in increased vulnerability and
depression into adulthood (Anderson, 2018).
45 GiLE Foundation (2021)
FIGURE 2. PERCENTAGE OF TEENS EXPERIENCED OF CYBERBULLYING
Source: Anderson, 2018
A significant amount of cyberbullying is motivated by hate toward sexual orientation or
genders: LGBT+ youth are almost twice as likely to report being bullied online (Pappas, 2015;
Pickles, 2019). At the same time, young women are twice as likely to have been sexually
harassed online as young men (Duggan, 2017).
A common form of cyberbullying is called “doxxing”, which is the act of publishing a victim’s
home address, phone, email or any other personal information to encourage other hateful people
to harass the victim (Hua, 2017). Consequently, this may result in less freedom of speech
because of fear, influencing individuals and communities.
However, most situations should always be understood from both sides - sometimes, what one
person thinks is acceptable may offend another person. Therefore, before making a new post
online, you should question yourself – may this harm or offend anyone? Education has a
significant role to play in self-respect and recognizing others’ boundaries (Onah & Alexander,
2020; Windisch & Olaghere, 2020).
4. What we can do to prevent hate speech online
Getting aware of the hate speech issue in our society, we searched for concrete suggestions of
solutions. The first step would be to recognize and raise awareness on this topic. Teens are a
prime target for hate because many of them are looking for some belonging. Some patterns can
1. Hate speech has been described as an expression – for instance, employing speech,
images, videos or online activity – that can raise hatred against a person or people due
to the characteristic they experience or a group to which they relate.
2. The “glorious past:” the idea that the author’s group has fallen from a once-glorious
past. The fall from glory is often attributed to the “other.” For example, extreme political
groups may convey unsubstantial stereotypes, such as immigrants arriving in country,
local citizens were more affluent, had better jobs, and enjoyed a more lavish lifestyle.
46 GiLE Foundation (2021)
3. “Victimhood:” when hate groups portray themselves as victims at the hands of the
“other.”/stranger. Groups may promote the idea that immigrants are “stealing” their jobs
or such stereotypes (Gabay et al., 2020).
Even if the online hate is successfully recognized, it is essential to understand the most
appropriate solution to support the "victim". Of course, one should never be indifferent, but one
should not immediately throw in a sharp exchange of words to exacerbate the situation. One
way we can fight hate speech is by speaking up about equality, inclusivity and diversity. Some
refer to this method as counter speech. The more we can undermine hate speech with loving
words, logical arguments, and truth-telling, the more hate speech will begin to lose its power.
Another method that can fight hate speech is education, particularly media literacy. When it
comes to bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and hate crimes, the more people are educated
on these issues, the more we can prevent them in the future.
Here are some advice and tips you can do to help young people recognize and respond to
1. Teach empathy and emotional literacy.
2. Use everyday moments to teach young people to notice, be sensitive to and label other
3. Promote respect for diversity as a social norm. Address hurtful and offensive comments
when they happen. As a parent/caregiver, you have the power to influence how a young
person behaves toward others. Model tolerance and empathy for them.
4. Talk about the existence and impacts of hate.
5. Young people benefit from learning about hate speech from a trusted adult, rather than
being exposed to it on their own.
6. You can facilitate dialogue by being prepared. This includes identifying ahead of time
concerns that may arise when a kid encounters hate-motivated content.
7. Be aware of news events or events in the community that may lead a young person to
express hatred toward others.
8. Acknowledge the emotional costs and be supportive.
9. Being the target of online hate speech can be distressing and painful.
10. Let young people know you are aware of the emotional impacts and willing to listen to
how this exposure affects them.
11. Digital/media literacy.
12. You can teach young people critical thinking skills. Ask them to consider the ways in
which media are created by people, and therefore represent those people’s values
13. Show young people how to verify sources. Many online hate websites go to great
lengths to make their sites/pages look legitimate.
47 GiLE Foundation (2021)
14. Reporting hate.
15. Encourage the kids in your life to report hate speech when they encounter it online. This
can be done by reporting the content to the site administrator or internet provider.
16. Getting support after experiencing hate is essential. Preparing a report is one way to
obtain an assistant. You can reclaim hate speech, hate crimes or threats of violence in
the following ways: even anonymously.
17. Contacting the police.
18. Be there.
19. Witnessing hate speech can be upsetting. Encourage the young people in your life to
reach out to you, or a resource like Kids Help Phone, when they feel uncomfortable
with anything they have seen online (Gruwell, 2017; Robinson & Graham, 2020; Keen
& Georgescu, 2020).
20. Active/ passive listening.
There are possible measures against online hate speech in this article, and their implementation
in youth work was discussed. The goal is to identify the best practice models that youth and
social workers can adapt and implement in their daily work to foster young people's ́digital
media literacy and contribute to preventing online hate speech. Because of the rapid changes
that our society faces due to digitalization, promoting children and youngsters' media and
Internet literacy is essential. Additionally, more thought needs to be given to raising a more
nuanced approach to the concept of what constitutes a 'public' space on the Internet. Thorough
consideration needs to be paid to the fact that online interactions among individuals can sustain
hate movements. The pervasiveness of online hatred on massively used websites, such as online
newspapers, may influence certain groups and affect their ability to enjoy the Internet.
Youngsters sensitized to this issue and using digital media with care can curb hate speech on
the Internet and advocate for actively observing Human Rights. Awareness raising between
young people for hate speech contributes to combat hate, racism, sexism and discrimination on
the Internet. Youngsters should be strengthened in their dedication to democracy and Human
Rights – this is the first step to make the Internet a more welcoming place in the future.
Anderson, M. (27.09.2018). A majority of teens have experienced some form of cyberbullying.
Source: Pew Research Center: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/09/27/a-majority-
Anderson, M. (27.09.2018). A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Forms of
Cyberbullying. Source: Pew Resrarch Center:
48 GiLE Foundation (2021)
Costello, M. & Hawdon, J. (2020). Hate Speech in Online Spaces. In Holt, J. T. & Bossler, M.
A, The Palgrave Handbook of International Cybercrime and Cyberdeviance (pp.: 1397–
1416). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-
Duggan, M. (11.07.2017). Online harassment 2017. Source: Pew Research Center:
Eisen, S., Matthews, E. S. & Jirout, J. (2021). Parents’ and children’s gendered beliefs about
toys and screen media. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 74, 101276. DOI:
Gabay, R. et al. (2020). The tendency for interpersonal victimhood: The personality construct
and its consequences. Personality and Individual Differences, 165, 110134. DOI:
Gale, A. (2020). Examining Black adolescents’ perceptions of in-school racial discrimination:
The role of teacher support on academic outcomes. Children and Youth Services. Review, 116,
105173, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105173
Gruwell, L. (2017). Writing against Harassment: Public Writing Pedagogy and Online Hate.
Composition Forum, 36.
Hua, W. (2017). Cybermobs, civil conspiracy, and tort liability. Fordham Urban Law
Journal, 44(4), 1216-1266.
Keen, E. & Georgescu, M. (2020). Bookmarks - A manual for combating hate speech online
through human rights education. (2020 Revised edition). Council of Europe.
Meherali, S. et al. (2021). Parent information needs and experience regarding acute otitis
media in children: A systematic review. Patient Education and Counseling, 104(3), 554–562,
Oh, H. et al. (2019). Discrimination and suicidality among racial and ethnic minorities in the
United States, Journal of Affective. Disorders, 245, 517–523, DOI:
Onah, I. & Alexander, C. (2020) Hate Speech: A vanguard of systemic violence and collapse
of commonality. AMAMIHE Journal of Applied Philosophy, 18(4), DOI:
Pappas, S. (22.06.2015). Cyberbullying on social media linked to teen depression. Source:
Live Science: https://www.livescience.com/51294-cyberbullying-social-media-teen-
Paz, A. M., Montero-Díaz, J. & Moreno-Delgado, A. (2020). Hate Speech: A Systematized
Review. SAGE Open, 10(4), 1-12. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244020973022
Pew Research Center. (07.04.2021). Social Media Fact Sheet. Sourcce: Pew Research Center:
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Pickles J. (2019). Designing hate crime reporting devices: An exploration of young LGBT+
people’s report needs. Journal of LGBT Youth, 1–27. DOI:
Robinson, S. & Graham, A. (2020). Feeling safe, avoiding harm: Safety priorities of children
and young people with disability and high support needs. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities,
Schoenebeck, S. et al. (2021). Youth Trust in Social Media Companies and Expectations of
Justice. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 5(2), 1-18. doi:
Selma, P. (05.02.2019). Hacking Online Hate: Building an Evidence Base for Educators.
Source: Selma Hacking Hate: https://hackinghate.eu/news/hacking-online-hate-building-an-
Shenton, K. A. & Dixon, P. (2004). Issues arising from youngsters’ information-seeking
behavior. Library & Information Science Research, 26(2), 177–200. DOI:
Wachs, S. et al. (2021). Online correlates of cyberhate involvement among young people from
ten European countries: An application of the Routine Activity and Problem Behaviour
Theory. Computers in Human Behavior, 123, 106872. DOI:
Windisch, S., Olaghere, A. & Wiedlitzka, S. (2020). PROTOCOL: Online Interventions for
Reducing Hate Speech and Cyberhate: A Systematic Review. Campbell Systematic Reviews,
17, 1-17. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/cl2.1133
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51 GiLE Foundation (2021)
Analysis of gap between competencies developed by higher
education and required by employers in Hungary
University of Pannonia, Veszprém, Hungary
University of Pannonia, Veszprém, Hungary
University of Pannonia, Veszprém, Hungary
Several researches are focusing on education and competency-management (Tran, 2018; Herbert et al.,
2020) refer to a „skill gap” between the acquired skills of graduated students and workforce skills
required by the industry. The current Hungarian higher-educational system and regulations do not fully
support the competency-based view of education. According to employers and reports of future work
competencies (WEF, 2020) higher education programs are supposed to meet the requirements of work
skills connecting to personal qualities of students. Therefore the character building of graduates needs
to be emphasized by universities. The aim of the research is to analyse the required skills of Human
Resource Management graduated students from various aspects: from the point of view of the higher
education training and outcome requirements defined by Ministry of National Resources; from the
perspective of employers, and from the angle looking at future competency expectations. In order to
reveal and compare these different aspects, based on the triangulation approach, document-analysis and
focus-group interviews were carried out, and a case study method was applied in order to represent the
outcome of the research. Our study indicates that competency based educational programs need to focus
on the development of the personality and essential skills in parallel in order to provide professionals fit
to employers’ expectations and future trends.
Keywords: character building, competency-based higher education, workforce skills
It is evident that a competency gap exists between employer needs and the skill sets of
university graduates (Conrad & Newberry 2012; Everson 2014; Adrian, 2017). However, we
have limited knowledge (Clardy, 2008; Kormanik, Lehner & Winnick, 2009; Hirudayaraj &
Baker, 2018) about the competency gap between the Hungarian employer needs and the skill
sets of university graduates in the case of Human Resource (HR) educational programs.
Therefore the aim of this research is to analyse and identify the competency gap between
employer needs and the skill sets of HR university graduates in Hungary from
2. Literature review (framing the problem)
Employers usually perceive the insufficiency of skills among the employees (Mourshed, Farrell
& Barton, 2012). Moreover studies consistently report that higher education graduates are
increasingly unable to perform work duties effectively (Tran, 2018).
52 GiLE Foundation (2021)
Higher education institutions often fail to capture the need for skills in the labour market,
therefore they cannot develop relevant employability skills for students (Harman, Hayden &
Pham, 2010). “Employability skills are the personal attributes enabling the people to get a job
and support an individual’s career life more easily” (Fajaryati et al., 2020, p. 600.). Yorke &
Knight (2003, p. 8.) define employability as “a set of achievements – skills, understandings and
personal attributes – that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in
their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the
economy”. Beside the higher educational program, the level of skills that each graduate or
employee possesses, depends on their effort. Students should understand the requirements of a
targeted profession and invest efforts to develop relevant employability skills (Jackson, 2016).
“From a human resource supply perspective, understanding the trends in the field and the
knowledge and the skill requirements of employers is important for educational programs to
adequately prepare professionals to enter and thrive in the field” (Hirudayaraj & Baker, 2018,
p. 578.). Although other occupational areas are consistently analysed (Frankenfeld, 2017;
Meyer, 2017), there is limited knowledge (Jamshidi, Rasli & Yusof, 2012; Hirudayaraj &
Baker, 2018) about the skill gap in the field of Human Resources.
2.1 Competency gap defined
The following chapter summarizes the theoretical background of the competency gap. First, the
definition of competence is assigned, as the fundamental determination of the research.
Following that the elements of the competence are explained, in order to be able to clarify and
separate the various competences.
Competency is defined by the Education Policy Committee (Taguma (OECD) & Rychen, 2016,
p. 3.) as follows: „a competence is defined as the ability to successfully meet complex demands
in a particular context through the mobilization of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values”.
According to this definition, competency is based on three pillars, namely knowledge, skills
and attitudes and values that are defined hereinafter:
„Knowledge includes theoretical concepts and ideas as well as practical understanding based
on the experience of having performed certain tasks… disciplinary, interdisciplinary, epistemic
and procedural.” (Speiser & Lang, 2018, p. 72.)
„Skills are the ability and capacity to carry out processes and be able to use one’s knowledge
in a responsible way to achieve a goal… cognitive and meta- cognitive skills; social and
emotional skills; and physical and practical skills.” (Speiser & Lang, 2018, p. 85.)
„Attitudes and values …refer to the principles and beliefs that influence one’s choices,
judgements, behaviours and actions on the path towards individual, societal and environmental
well-being.” (Speiser & Lang, 2018, p. 101.)
We applied this competency definition during the research because the Education and Outcome
Requirements defined by the Ministry of National Resources includes the qualification
standards. Qualification standards do not only include the name and level of a qualification, the
professional qualification and its outcome features, but also several other elements are included,
for example the main knowledge areas to be covered by the program furthermore, other criteria
such as the skills, and attitudes too. This definition is based on the Hungarian Qualification
Framework and contains the same definition as applied by OECD.
53 GiLE Foundation (2021)
Researchers often employ different perspectives to examine the skills gap in the workforce
(Tran, 2018). In the current research we applied the following one: skills mismatch „is an
encompassing term which refers to various types of imbalances between skills offered and skills
needed in the world of work” (ILO, 2014, p. 6.). One type of the skills mismatch is the
competency gap which is defined by several authors (Shah & Burke, 2005; ATD, 2015). The
present research applied the following definition: “Competency gap can be defined as the
difference between the market’s need (demand) and the current skills supplied by local
education institutes (supply)” (Alsafadi & Abunafesa, 2012, p. 285.).
3. Context of the study
The Human Resources Bachelor program is available at 12 different universities and in 5
different regions in Hungary. The research is connected to the University of Pannonia,
Veszprém, the only university with an HR Bachelor program in the western and central region
(Transdanubia) of Hungary. It means that the university has a key role in the education of HR
students. Based on the DPR AAE Career Orientation Support Module 2020 (Diplomán túl,
2020) we found that 56% of the graduated HR students had a job position in the last year of
their studies, 40% of these students got a job in the location (therefore the country retention has
a key role), 46.2 % of the graduated HR students had a position with the requirement of BSc
and the graduate earnings premium was 128% in the case of the graduated HR students.
Altogether we can state that the well-graduating HR students had a strategic role in this region,
therefore the continuous development of the educational programs and the engagement in the
needs of different actors regarding this educational program is essential.
3.1 Research questions, design and data collection method
Despite the unique role of the University of Pannonia in the Transdanubian Region, the
competition in higher education is significant. Based on the literature review and the feedbacks
from the university’s industry partners, the following research questions were formulated:
RQ1: What sort of competency gap can be identified between employer needs and the skill
sets of university HR graduates?
RQ2: How will future competency demand influence this gap?
Analysing the job advertisements is a commonly used method to study the skill gap on
workforce, but employer surveys and interviews are the most common means of forecasting
skills requirements and future trends within an industry (Hirudayaraj & Baker, 2018). However,
these do not always provide reliable representations of actual needs of employers (Wilson,
2008). Predicting solely on employers' expectations could be problematic because the forecasts
based on the industry aspects are sometimes too idealistic, and it is hard to predict the exact
demand for the future (Wilson, 2008; Lanier, 2009). Offsetting the disadvantages of these type
of predictions, adopting primary and secondary data sources during the data collection process
can be effective. According to Senge (2000) triangular approach allows us to study the problem
from multiple perspective using qualitative and quantitative data, in order to provide a useful
way of addressing the problem. Therefore, to get reliable answers to the research questions we
used a triangulation approach (Senge, 2000; Rosenberg, Heimler, & Morote, 2012) during the
data collection process, and a case study method was applied so as to understand and represent
the outcome of the research. Figure 1 presents the triangulation approach that was used during
the data collection process. Regarding the data analyses, we accomplished comparison analyses
54 GiLE Foundation (2021)
in order to find the differences between the approaches, whereby we analysed the keywords
(competencies) from all aspects. The content analyses of the different aspects need to be
considered as well in the future.
FIGURE 1. TRIANGULATION APPROACH USED DURING THE DATA COLLECTION
Source: created by the authors
Relevant literature was reviewed in order to reveal the future demanded competencies for HR
graduates and professionals. General competency reviews (Davies, Fidler & Gorbis, 2011;
Bakhshi et al., 2017; Speise & Lang, 2018; Fajaryati et al., 2020; WEF, 2020) as well as HR
specific literature (Donkor et al., 2017; JazzHR, 2021) were collected. Based on the reviews
the most important future demanded competencies as keywords were listed in general.
Four focus-group interviews were conducted with the focus of what sort of competencies are
necessary for graduated HR students. Altogether 13 HR representatives from different sectors
were invited to the interviews: manufacturing companies (23%), service sector (23%), public
sector (31%) as well as self-employed HR managers (23%). The general interview protocol of
the focus groups was the following: short representation of the applied definitions, clarification
of job requirements (HR jobs without experience or maximum 1 year experience; should
connect to one or more HR function) to which the competencies were collected, defining
competencies (definition and examples) highlighted by the participants, discussing
consequences of the lack of certain competencies. Based on the interviews, the demanded
competencies as keywords were listed in a transcript and definition of all competencies was
added in order to find the similarities and differences between keywords.
Job advertisements were analysed in order to establish a list of demanded competencies of
graduated HR students. Job advertisements were extracted from several Hungarian websites
between January and April of 2021, whereby altogether 992 job advertisements were collected.
Based on the investigation of the content the demanded competencies were listed. It was
important to make a comparison between the demanded competencies according to the job
advertisements and focus group interviews. The training and outcome requirements by the
ministry were also analysed in order to list the obligatory competencies as keywords. Altogether
143 competencies as keywords were listed and analysed in order to find the gaps between the
different approaches (obligatory, demanded and future demanded competencies).
55 GiLE Foundation (2021)
4. Case study and results
The case study will reveal how to analyse a competency gap with the use of triangulation
approach with the aim of getting reliable results with the consideration of the present
(obligatory) and the currently demanded competencies as well as future demands. The case
study concentrates on the process of the identification, and then the results based on the analyses
of the competency gap will be presented.
4.1 The detailed process of the competency gap analysis
In order to obtain a full overview based on the requirements (obligatory, currently demanded
and future demands) of the educational stakeholders it is important to map competencies.
Mapping competencies can be made as a reference for educators in order to improve the quality
of learning and education, and moreover it helps to identify the competency gaps of an
educational program. Figure 2 presents the process of the identification of the competency gap.
FIGURE 2. THE PROCESS OF THE IDENTIFICATION OF COMPETENCY GAPS
Source: created by the authors
In case of the present research, the first step was to analyse the future demands in terms of
competencies based on the literature review, whereby general competency reviews and HR
specific literature were reviewed. The literature review revealed 49 different future competency
demands. In order to list the obligatory competencies, we analysed the training and outcome
requirements by the Ministry of National Resources and altogether 29 different obligatory
competencies were listed. The next step was to analyse the currently demanded competencies
by the labour market, therefore first we collected and studied several job advertisements. Based
on the job advertisements we listed the most important demanded competencies in case of fresh
HR graduates. Moreover, to assess the demanded competencies, we conducted four focus group
interviews where the key representatives of the labour market expressed their opinion. The main
focus of the interviews was to find the most important demanded competencies and to define
these competencies in case of an entry level HR position. Altogether we identified 65 different
demanded competencies during these interviews and based on the collected job advertisements.
Based on the above mentioned points of view numerous competencies were listed, we compared
these lists in order to find the competency gaps.
56 GiLE Foundation (2021)
4.2 Results of the identification of the competency gaps
Competency gaps will be presented according to the previously defined competency categories
by the OECD, but it is important to note that knowledge, skills, attitude and values are
interrelated systems together. Despite the fact that we present these parts separately, the
elements of competency are both interconnected and mutually reinforcing. First, we list the
obligatory competencies which are containing the required competency elements determined
by the government. Competency gap 1 contains the differences between obligatory and
demanded competencies, which are defined by the focus group interviews, and based on the job
advertisements. In the overlapping section of competency gap 1 and 2 those competencies were
listed, that are considered as a crucial competency for the currently demanded and in the future
demanded views as well. These skills are the ones which are both essential now in the labor
market and will be important in the future too. Competency gap 2 includes differences between
obligatory and future competency demands, which were defined based on the literature review.
TABLE 1. IDENTIFIED COMPETENCY GAPS
Competency Gap 2
New-media literacy, Transdisciplinarity approach,
Predictive data analytics
competency gap 1 and 2
(Current & future
Competency Gap 1
Basic Micro and Macro Economics, Informatics,
Maths, Statistics, Project and team management,
Ethical behaviour, Human Resource Management
related knowledge, HR legal aspects
Competency Gap 2
New technological skills, Active learning, Sense-
making, Novel & adaptive thinking
competency gap 1 and 2
(Current & future
Prioritization and time management, Critical
thinking and analysis, Troubleshooting and user
experience, Logical, system and process thinking
Competency Gap 1
Stress management, Administrational skills
Communication, Problem solving, HR leadership
and management skills (such as organizational and
change management, planning, controlling),
application of knowledge, team work
57 GiLE Foundation (2021)
Competency Gap 2
competency gap 1 and 2
(Current & future
Resilience, Creativity, Originality and Proactivity,
Adaptability, Emotional Intelligence
Competency Gap 1
Positive attitude, Self-assertive approach,
Commitment, Hardworking attitude, Patience,
Kindness, Practical approach, Dynamic attitude
Proactivity, cooperative skills, supportive attitude,
professionalism, empathy, social intelligence,
responsibility, open-mindness, cross-cultural
competency, precision, reliability, developing
ability, leadership and social influence, reflectivity
Source: created by the authors
In the case of the knowledge element we found that the knowledge requirements defined by the
government are very extensive, in this case there is no gap between the obligatory and currently
demanded knowledge. Furthermore, we investigated the gap between the demanded and future
demanded competencies, and we found three knowledge elements which are expected to be
relevant in the future.
The first is the new-media literacy which is based on the understanding of mass media tools,
and the digital media (Davies, Fidler & Gorbis, 2011), since forthcoming communication tools
will require new media literacies. The next important knowledge element is the
transdisciplinary approach that is the knowledge in concepts across multiple disciplines
(Davies, Fidler & Gorbis, 2011). It means in the future the ideal employee will have a deep
understanding of at least one field, but also will have “the capacity to converse in the language
of a broader range of disciplines” (Davies, Fidler & Gorbis, 2011, p. 9.). Another important
competency in the future will be the predictive data analytics, which contains the knowledge
about the data analytics, predictive modelling and programming in order to be able to use
people-related data to make predictions about dynamics in the workforce (Donkor et al., 2017).
Regarding the skill gap we found a mismatch in the terms of new technological skills,
containing a sort of competencies, such as the use of technology, monitoring and control, data-
gathering skills, data-analytics skills, research skills, predictive data analytics, tech-savviness,
digital HR, visual-presentation skills, digital employability, virtualization and so on (Davies,
Fidler & Gorbis, 2011; Donkor et al., 2017; Fajaryati et al., 2020; WEF, 2020; JazzHR, 2021).
Moreover, active learning will be an important skill in the future: understanding the
implications of new information both for current and future problem solving and decision
making (WEF, 2020).
Besides learning in an active way, sense-making will be crucial as well as smart machines take
over routine manufacturing and services jobs, so “there will be an increasing demand for the
kinds of skills machines are not good at. These are higher level thinking skills that cannot be
codified” (Davies, Fidler & Gorbis, 2011, p. 8.). Sense making skill is helping us to create a
58 GiLE Foundation (2021)
unique insight to critical decision making. Alongside the above skills, novel and adaptive
thinking is a forthcoming considerable competency, which means “the proficiency at thinking
and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based” (Davies,
Fidler & Gorbis, 2011, p. 9.).
With regard to the skills, the overlapping competencies are prioritization and time management,
critical thinking and analysis, troubleshooting and user experience, logical, system and
Concerning attitude and values, we also found gaps between the currently demanded
competencies and future requirements. The importance of having resilience, emotional
intelligence, and a positive attitude is growing. “The maturity, flexibility and restraint to cope
with pressure, stress, criticism, setbacks, personal and work-related problems” (WEF, 2020, p.
156.) could be an attitude which will need to be developed by educational institutions. In the
case of an HR job it could be an essential requirement to be open to changes (positive or
negative) and to show considerable variety in a workplace.
4.3 Synthesis of case study
The triangulation approach used during the process of data collection could be a good basis to
find differences between obligatory competencies and those required by the industry (now and
in the future) from fresh graduates. Knowledge, skills as well as attitude and values are both
interconnected and mutually reinforcing. The case study pointed at the existing shortage
regarding knowledge, however it is important to analyse the level of the required knowledge
(moreover the level of the required skills, and attitudes too). To answer the research questions,
we can state that competency gaps can be identified in case of obligatory and demanded skills,
attitude and values, and future demanded competencies will be influenced by the obligatory
knowledge in the future, moreover the obligatory and the demanded skills, attitudes and values
need to be think over according the future demand expectations too.
One of the competency gap is focussed on the consideration of how to adapt knowledge, skills
and attitude elements in connection with technological changes (See on Figure 3).
FIGURE 3. INTERCONNECTED COMPETENCIES IN CASE OF IDENTIFIED COMPETENCY GAPS
Source: created by the authors
In case of knowledge it will be essential to consider media and technology literacy, in
connection with these technological skills, as well as the development of students’ resilience,
stress tolerance and flexibility, as these need to form a major part in the curriculum
development. However, not just the technological part is missing from the educational program,
but also the development of self-management of students needs to be built into the educational
program. The development of willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges, the
understanding of the implications of new information, dependability, commitment to do the job
59 GiLE Foundation (2021)
correctly and carefully, being trustworthy and accountable and paying attention to details
should be an integral part of HR education. Emotional and social intelligence will be a key
competency for HR graduates in the future: to develop capacities used to work with people to
achieve goals and being friendly, cooperative, sensitive to others, easy to get along with and
enjoying work with people (WEF, 2020, p. 156.). Furthermore, the ability to connect to others
in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions are also
crucial (Davies, Fidler & Gorbis, 2011, p. 6.).
Altogether we can state that higher educational institutions are increasingly investigating efforts
in developing graduate attitudes and skills to match the demands of the 21st century. These
competencies are necessary for the Industry 4.0 approach. In order to fulfil this goal of the
higher educational institutions, it is important to highlight that solely focusing on knowledge
and skills is not enough to achieve the aims, which could be the value that employers and
students are seeking.
5. Discussion, future directions and limitations
Our research is a work in progress, and the applied triangulation approach does not allow us to
make generalization in terms of HR competencies, however the results create a good basis to
further improvements in the competency development process at the university and in the future
research process. Our long-term goal is to develop a competency map regarding HR graduates.
Therefore, we need to create competency sets, and to define the competency categories as well
as the expected level of the required competencies. On the basis of the redefinition of
competency outcome requirements, the most important and large-scale challenge is to find new
directions of competency-development which are forming not just the skills but values and
attitudes of graduates as well. Analysis of the competency gap between expectations of the
labour market, future demands and outcome requirements of university programs have outlined
the main areas of future development. Usage of information and communication technological
assets, methods and opportunities will be essential skills for future employees. Because of the
rapidly changing expectations, working environment and procedures, existing knowledge
becomes forfeited, and competencies related to problem solving (creativity, critical thinking &
analysis, process thinking, etc.) and active learning (adaptability, open mind, sense-making,
etc.) come to the fore. On the other hand, we need to take into consideration that companies
require more self-dependence, proactivity and responsibility from their employees who need to
work together with several different and unknown people. Competency development of
graduates needs to cover aspects of self-management, like confidence, time and stress
management, as well as areas of emotional and social intelligence. Beside lectures and
seminars, in the frame of elaboration of development methods we should define the most
appropriate further opportunities of competency development, such as tutorship, soft skill
training, volunteering, and corporate projects. The analysis and identification of competency
gaps is only the first step in the process that has established our further research direction and
developmental process considerably. If we aim to train competent graduates, we cannot ignore
the fact that requirements of employers have changed significantly, and future trends advance
more rapidly and complex changes in the future of jobs are expected.
We acknowledge the financial support of Széchenyi 2020 under the EFOP-3.6.1-16-2016-
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