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Graduates in Smaller Businesses: A Pilot Study

Final report on a project funded by the Government Office for London

Len Holmes, Miriam Green, Sue Egan

Management Research Centre,

The Business School, University of North London

August 1998


This report presents the initial findings of a pilot study of the experiences of graduates in smaller businesses. This was a qualitative research project, using the notion of 'graduate identity' as the key concept for examining the social processes by which graduates achieve a satisfactory and settled position in employment. This is contrasted with the 'skills approach', which was judged to be less appropriate for studying the varied and complex trajectories by which individuals move from their degree studies into employment, particularly where such employment is not of the type traditionally seen as a 'graduate job'.

Interviews were conducted with 11 graduates working in smaller business, and with a further 3 employed in large firms. Three 'narratives' of individuals' graduate employment trajectories are presented in the report, to illustrate how the identity approach is useful in understanding such trajectories. A range of key issues faced by graduates are also abstracted from the transcribed interviews. Although this is a limited study, it is considered that a number of recommendations are warranted, and these are presented.

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