Do employability skills really matter in the UK graduate labour market? The case of business and management graduates

Wilton, N. (2008) Do employability skills really matter in the UK graduate labour market? The case of business and management graduates. In: Paris International Conference on Education, Economy & Society 2008, Paris, France, 7th- 10th June, 2008. Available from:

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Two dominant rationales are put forward by UK policymakers for the continued expansion of higher education (HE): to service the high-skill labour requirements of a ‘knowledge’ economy and to increase educational and, subsequently, labour market opportunities for under-represented/disadvantaged groups (Moreau & Leathwood 2006). The discourse of employability, pervasive in UK HE policy, connects these two rationales in a simplistic manner. Individual employability is described as both the means by which to obtain and maintain high quality, well-rewarded employment in an increasingly unpredictable labour market and also the means to eradicate the social reproduction of inequality (Brown and Hesketh 2004). However, evidence drawn from a large-scale quantitative survey of almost 10,000 1999 graduates from 38 UK higher education institutions and a programme of qualitative follow-up interviews suggests that for a cohort of recent business and management graduates, the relationship between employability and employment is far from straightforward. Despite this group having been shown to possess the key skills promoted in UK government policy and that directly respond to employees concerns about the work-readiness of graduates (for example, Mason 2002), this paper suggests that traditional disadvantages such as social class and gender are still apparent, regardless of this reported employability.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords:labour market, higher education, employability, skills, graduates employment, inequality
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Business and Law > Department of Business Management
ID Code:14526
Deposited By: Dr N. Wilton
Deposited On:16 May 2011 12:51
Last Modified:20 Nov 2017 11:02

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