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The Five Obstacles that Hamper Better Understanding of Graduate Labour and Skills

James, Susan and Warhurst, Chris and Commander, Johanna and Lindsay, Kimberley and Tholen, Gerbrand (2011) The Five Obstacles that Hamper Better Understanding of Graduate Labour and Skills. Discussion paper. SKOPE, Cardiff.

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Abstract

This Issues Paper focuses on understanding the supply,demand, development and deployment of graduate skills. Successive governments across the UK have sought to expand higher education. The assumption is that this wave of graduates will be used differently in the workplace, in turn pushing firms up the value chain,thereby creating a high skill, high valued-added economy. While policy makers have not questioned the importance of graduate skills, more recently there has been at least some recognition that demand matters as well as supply. However policy thinking is not helped by the differing academic accounts of the impact of graduate labour. This Issues Paper sets out the limitations offered by these differing accounts and argues that they highlight the methodological and conceptual limitations of current research of graduate labour. These limitations are obstacles that need to be overcome to improve both academic understanding and government policy thinking about the impact of graduates in the workplace.