Exploring the factors that influence the graduate work expectations of Human Resource Management students

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 33 : Reshaping Higher Education

July, 2010, 654 pages
Published by
M. Devlin, J. Nagy and A. Lichtenberg
0 908557 80 9

Providing graduates with a set of skills and attributes relevant to their future employment remains a focus in both higher education policy and research. This paper reports findings from a pilot study of Human Resource Management (HRM) students’ perceptions of the graduate work experience. Specifically, it focuses on how these perceptions are shaped, driven by a concern for the uncertainty – and even fear – expressed by the study’s participants in relation to their future workplace experiences. The influences of three key factors in shaping participants’ expectations are discussed: the graduate recruitment experience, previous work experiences, and ‘graduate work folklore’ from the stories of family and friends. With these influences not always providing students with a realistic picture of their future work experience, we conclude that educators need to improve the opportunities for practical experience and industry knowledge through work placements, stronger links with industry and increased exposure to the practicalities of work within our curricula.

Keywords: human resource management, graduate work expectations, graduate outcomes