Degrees of fit? Matching in the graduate labour market

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this article is to examine matching in the graduate labour market (GLM) in order to understand how expansion of higher education is perceived and translated in practice.

Design/methodology/approach – The article uses meritocracy and credentialism as frames of reference to explain the role of educational certification in systems of social structuring. Correspondingly, qualifications may function as signals, screens or proxies. Qualitative evidence, drawing on 40 interviews with graduates, employers and educators gives insights on access requirements, recruitment and selection and transfer of knowledge and skills, in three graduate occupations: chartered accountants; active schools co-ordinators; and risk managers.

Findings – Findings suggest that expanding graduate numbers has produced altered patterns of closure. Employers use the availability of relevant degrees to limit applications, define jurisdictional boundaries and exclude the less, or inappropriately qualified. Yet correspondence between degree and occupation cannot necessarily be read off by a connected degree.

Practical implications – Closer connections between degree and occupation imply labour market segmentation although this requires further evidence in other occupations.

Originality/value – Supply-side policy interventions are countered by strategic use of graduates. The paper explores issues of relevance to policymakers, employers, educators and graduates and will be of interest to those in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-170
JournalEmployee Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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