New graduate employment within SMEs: still in the dark?

Rick Holden, Stephanie Jameson, Andreas Walmsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – A report conducted for the Government in 2002 concluded that public policy, although rising to the challenges presented in stimulating a stronger relationship between supply and demand in the SME graduate labour market, was essentially “running blind”. SMEs were clearly playing an increasingly important role in the wider graduate labour market, yet the evidence base on patterns of recruitment, deployment and graduate contribution was weak and insubstantive. The purpose of this paper is to revisit this issue and critically review research undertaken since 2002. Design/methodology/approach – A decision was taken to critically review the research literature published in the UK on graduate employment in SMEs since 2002 as this was the year that the original report was presented to the Government. The methodological design draws out the main findings from the 2002 report and the associated research agenda. This is then used as a basis from which to evaluate recent research. The methodological design ensures that the key themes of graduate recruitment and utilization are addressed within the context of the overall SME graduate labour market. Findings – The data suggest that whilst there may be some “glimmers of light”, serious deficiencies remain in relation both to information about the SME graduate labour market in general and to the utilization of graduates in particular. There was an apparent shift in the research agenda, towards graduate enterprise and business start-up. Originality/value – Provides a timely review of the evidence base in an area which has seen increasing policy interventions. Draws an important parallel with emergent research in the specific field of graduate start-up.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-227
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2007
Externally publishedYes


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