This DfE-commissioned literature review will look at work placements and work experience provided by higher education institutions to explore the work experience opportunities available, who can access them, and their impact on individuals, institutions and employers.
Rationale for the study
Higher education (HE) is a major part of UK skills policy and is widely regarded as a route to a high-skill, high-wage economy. However, a university degree is no longer considered ‘enough’ to get a 'graduate-level' job (Bathmaker, Ingram and Waller, 2013; Tomlinson, 2012, 2008).
The increase in the number graduates over the last few decades without a parallel rise in graduate jobs has intensified the competition for jobs after graduation. At the same time, graduates are expected to adapt quickly to the workplace and to ‘hit the ground running’ (Smith, 2010). The added pressures of the shifting the cost of HE onto students and their families through tuition fees mean that there is a lot of interest in improving graduates' employment destinations after graduation.
One initiative is to help students undertake work placements and work experience to improve students’ job readiness and ability to secure suitable jobs after graduation. However, comprehensive information about the prevalence, types and outcomes of work experience and placements is lacking. This literature review aims to scope out the available information of the work experience opportunities available, who can access them, and their impact on individuals, institutions and employers.
A summary of the main findings will be made available here after the project has finished.
Bathmaker, A.-M., Ingram, N., and Waller, R. (2013). Higher education, social class and the mobilisation of capitals: Recognising and playing the game. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 34(5-6), 723–743.
Tomlinson, M. (2012). Graduate employability: A review of conceptual and empirical themes. Higher Education Policy, 25(4), 407–431.
Tomlinson, M. (2008). ‘The degree is not enough’: students’ perceptions of the role of higher education credentials for graduate work and employability. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29(1), 49–61.
Smith, V. (2010). Enhancing employability: Human, cultural, and social capital in an era of turbulent unpredictability. Human Relations, 63(2), 279–300.