This paper presents the results of the first part of the Tools for Enhancing and Assessing the Value of International Experience for Engineers (TA VIE) project, launched in 2018, and outlines a contemporary understanding of global competence for engineers, as understood by European engineering companies. Striving to make engineering education more comprehensively aligned to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and thereby meeting demands from industry and society, the notion of “global competence” has attracted more and more attention from engineering schools. While there is no universally agreed on definition of global competence, the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) definition, which explicitly combines global awareness and intercultural communication competence with sustainability efforts, seems potentially well positioned to inform higher education institutions’ (HEI) global competence education. This is perhaps especially so when it comes to international student mobility, an area which is regularly seen as an important means to enhance global competence while all too often being assessed not in terms of qualitative student development, but in terms of structural indicators. However, in order to assess and improve curricula and mobility programs, the desired learning outcomes must first be specified. Based on research in five European countries (Spain, Italy, Sweden, France and Hungary), this paper details the understanding, requirements and perceived skill gaps of companies hiring engineering graduates, a first step towards improved and assessable global competence education for engineering students.
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