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The University of Southampton
Southampton Education School

Research project: Graduate employability in context

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The analysis of graduate employability, more broadly understood in terms of the changing relationship between higher education and the labour market, remains a strong focal point of my research. Instead of adopting a functional and ‘skills’ focused approach, I am interested in the wider political economy and social construction of employability and its relational dimensions.

Myself and Len Holmes, who has developed the concept of ‘graduate identity’, have drawn upon our extensive writings in this field as well as the contributions of leading international scholars to produce a large-scale edited collection with Palgrave Macmillan (Graduate Employability in Context: theory, research and debate). This has brought together a wide range of research and current thinking in this field, covering issues such as the critical realism, social dimensions of competence, career learning and adaptability, graduate decision making and innovative curricula practice.

I am also interested in the relationship between employability and exclusion, as well as wider conceptual issues around ‘unemployability’ and under-employment’. A range of factors relating to economic change, the shifting boundaries between youth and graduate labour markets and employer recruitment processes, have brought the issue of exclusion and talent wastage to the fore. With colleagues at Portsmouth University, we are interested in exploring the labour market experiences and trajectories of graduates with a variety of SEN conditions and to explore their self-perceived employability, transitional challenges and scope for successful labour market integration.

Related outputs

Tomlinson, M. & Holmes, L. (Eds) (2017) Graduate Employability in Context: theory, research and debate, Basingstoke, Palgrave (369p)

Tomlinson, M. (2017) ‘Graduate employability: introducing a complex, contested and multi-faceted and policy and research field’, in M. Tomlinson & L. Holmes, Graduate Employability in Context: theory, research and debate, Basingstoke, Palgrave.

Related research groups

The Centre for Educational Policy
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