Conference Agenda

RN17_02c: Symposium: ‘From education to employment: Transitions to employment among university students and graduates.’
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Daria Luchinskaya, University of Warwick
Location: UP.2.217
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Second Floor Oxford Road

Session Abstract

This symposium is organized by Daria Luchinskaya.


How Does Social Disadvantage Affect Students' Strategies For Becoming An 'Employable Graduate'?

Belgin Okay-Somerville1, Ian Allison2, Daria Luchinskaya3, Dora Scholarios4

1University of Glasgow, United Kingdom; 2University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom; 3University of Warwick, United Kingdom; 4University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom

A successful transition from university to work, and particularly one which conforms with the prevalent neoliberal discourse of the 'employable graduate', generally depends on students being able to engage in pre-employment activities, such as internships and voluntary work, goal-directed job search, and active networking. These positive transition strategies may be impaired, however, by individuals' social disadvantage. This study expands on existing research by focusing on how different facets of social disadvantage - social background, university type and financial strain - affect students' transitions strategies. We focus on a sample of students from STEM subjects in two Scottish universities (pre- and post-1992) to control for some of the known labour market related determinants of graduate employability (e.g. demand for skills, visibility of career routes). We find that university type is the most significant factor for engaging in positive transition strategies, and that social class is not significant when controlling for these other factors. This lends support to the institutional explanation of how social disadvantage affects employability (e.g. Boden and Nedeva, 2010; Brown, 2004): perceived higher reputation and relative advantage of pre-1992 universities increase students' access to elite employers, influential networks, etc., facilitating successful transitions to employment. However, there may be an indirect social class effect on transition strategies that remains an issue for further research. Our research has practical implications for universities, employers and policymakers to help disadvantaged students gain the experiences required for successful transitions to work, and reduce anxiety and perceived barriers to achieving such transitions.

Stepping Stones Or Trapdoors? Paid And Unpaid Graduate Internships In The Creative Sector

Peter John Scott1, Wil Hunt2

1University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom; 2University of Warwick, United Kingdom

Current theory on graduate internships is based on the assumption that, paid or unpaid, they improve the employability of interns. Employing data from a survey of UK creative and mass communications graduates, surveyed two to six years after graduation, this article examines the impact of graduate internships on subsequent job prospects. While paid internships do lead to better pay and increased chances of having a creative or graduate-level job, unpaid internships do not, and actually lead to lower pay in the short to medium term. Findings contribute to theory by challenging the ‘stepping stone’ view of unpaid internships and much policy discussion about these. Results reinforce, with enhanced specificity about the role internships play in socio-economic reproduction, those theories that characterise the graduate labour market as a ‘positional’ hierarchy of opportunities rather than a labour market that is essentially meritocratic in nature

Ethnicity and employability: Comparing the outcomes of Albanian and Italian graduates from Italian universities

Dorel Nicolae Manitiu, Silvia Galeazzi

Inter-University Consortium AlmaLaurea, Italy

Higher education is seen by many young people as an important pillar of developing their knowledge and successfully entering the labour market. Not all graduates have equal chances of acquiring a ‘good’ graduate job. Graduate outcomes can vary by ethnic groups. In Italy, the proportion of Albanian graduates has been the most numerous among foreign graduates, 12.9% in 2017, there are questions about whether their employment outcomes differ from their Italian peers.

This study looks at recent graduates’ employment outcomes, focusing on Albanian citizens graduates in Italy, using AlmaLaurea dataset. The AlmaLaurea survey on Graduates Tracking (2017 survey) has involved a population of 630,000 graduates in Italian universities, (interviewed at 1,3 and 5 years from graduation). We will compare outcomes such as type of work, activity sector, earnings, etc. Albanians employment rate (second-level graduates) at one year from graduation is 70.8% (73.9% for total population); at five years from graduation, the employment rate improves at 85.6% for Albanians and at 87.3% for the total graduates; the unemployment rate decreases during the time and goes from 16.5% at one year from graduation to 7.8% at five years from graduation (in line with all second level degree graduates). Albanian graduates who remain and work in Italy, are 72.0%; the study finds that at 5 years after graduation are less advantages in terms of earnings, 1.337€ net per month (compare with 1.428€ of general graduates, but they have a permanent employment contract more than their colleagues: 65.2% compare to 54.6%.

The Role Of Internships In Enhancing Graduate Labour Market Transitions In The UK And Italy

Giulio Pedrini2, Charikleia Tzanakou1, Daria Luchinskaya1, Luca Cattani2

1University of Warwick, United Kingdom; 2University of Bologna, Italy

In the last two decades, education to work transitions have become more turbulent and uncertain. The role of work experience during and after education in facilitating access to work and enhancing labour market outcomes has been debated in academic and policy literature (e.g. Holford, 2017; IPPR, 2017). Internships during undergraduate study are widely recognized as a way of gaining relevant work experience and as a route into employment. However, not everyone benefits equally. Using two longitudinal graduate surveys, AlmaLaurea for Italy and Futuretrack for the UK, we analyse access to and employment outcomes (getting a job, wages and perceived skills match) of doing an internship during undergraduate study, focusing on gender and social class. Preliminary results for both Italy and the UK suggest that access to internships tends to be affected by social class rather than gender, but the effect is small, and that there is variability across subjects. Regarding outcomes, in Italy, doing an internship increases the chances of finding a job after graduation but dampens wages and skills matching outcomes. In the UK, doing an internship is also positively associated with being in work after graduation, and, in contrast to Italy, with higher wages, and high perceived skills match in one’s job. Our comparison of Italy and the UK explores how different labour market regimes affect transitions to employment, contributing to the theoretical understanding of the three worlds of human capital formation (Iversen and Stephens, 2008) and raises policy questions about unequal access to internships.