An examination of the engagement barriers perceived to exist between small firms and graduates

Henricksen, Georgina May (2012). An examination of the engagement barriers perceived to exist between small firms and graduates. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Graduate recruitment in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is largely neglected, overshadowed by larger enterprises more traditionally associated with graduate employment. This thesis addresses this oversight by exploring graduate employment in small firms located in the West Midlands, with a specific focus on small Business and Professional Services (BPS). The thesis examines whether attitudinal barriers deterring graduates from small firm employment, and small firm employers from recruiting graduate employees, as summarised by the concept of mutual unattractiveness, is supported by the experiences of graduates currently employed in smaller firms, and by the experiences of owner-managers that have employed them. The research specifically explores employer interpretations of graduate contributions and skills deficiencies, and graduate interpretations of training delivery and developmental practices. A qualitative approach enables the study to gain a deeper understanding of manager-graduate relations in small firms, while supplementary interviews with careers service, large firm and intermediary organisation representatives generates a multi-perspective approach appreciative of wider regional graduate employment access and engagement. The study finds that whilst graduate and employer experiences in many ways reinforce factors that deter both parties from engaging in such employment, their experience also demonstrates the positive rewards ensuing for both parties. This thesis illustrates how small firm graduate employment is complex and informed by comparative decisions. It also shows how recruitment decisions concerning small firm graduate employment require a more informed approach such that expectations may be managed accordingly.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Funders: Other, Economic and Social Research Council
Other Funders: Advantage West Midlands
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education


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