Journal of Further and Higher Education
Taylor & Francis
School of Business and Law
There is continued pressure on universities to develop future-oriented graduates given documented skill gaps and global talent shortages. Although work experience supports work-readiness and is prioritised among graduate employers, little is known about the labour market gains from student employment compared to work experience embedded within the curriculum (e.g. internship or work placement), and how one may influence the other. Drawing on the lens of capital resources and signalling theory, this study uses national survey data from 152,226 recent Australian graduates to examine the relationship between student employment, in-curricular work experience and labour market outcomes. The findings affirm the high incidence of student employment and distinctions in labour market effects by type of work undertaken during study. Student employment influenced participation in embedded work experience and other employability-building activities facilitated by universities. Taking part in in-curricular work experience led to clear labour market gains, irrespective of the type of employment students engaged in during their university years. This paper discusses important implications for universities striving to develop student employability and achieve more uniform graduate employment outcomes among diverse cohorts.
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