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Engaging a new generation of graduates

Sue Shaw (Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour Division, Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, Manchester, UK)
David Fairhurst (McDonald's Restaurants, London, UK)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 27 June 2008




The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of generational difference and reflect on how this might impact on organisational approaches to graduate development.


The paper explores the characteristics of Generation Y graduates and the implications of their entry into the workplace for organisations' graduate learning and development programmes, drawing on academic and popular literature and the organisational experience of one major employer of young people.


This paper presents a profile of Generation Y and suggests that the learning styles and expectations of this group are very different from earlier generations. Using its experiences of employing Generation Y the case study organisation suggests future graduate development schemes need to utilise the latest technology to deliver audio‐visually rich, multi‐tasking challenges which require a collaborative approach, offer instant feedback whilst at the same time recognising that its participants may not see the need for or indeed take responsibility for their own development or its perceived failings.

Research limitations/implications

The paper suggests that further in‐depth research into Generation Y and organisational graduate development schemes is necessary to determine how far such schemes are meeting expectations.

Practical implications

Employers of graduates need to evaluate the effectiveness of their programmes.


The main contribution of this paper is to highlight how employers, and particularly graduate development managers, need to re‐examine their graduate development schemes to ensure they are not only meeting the needs and expectations of the organisation but also the individuals for whom they are designed.



Shaw, S. and Fairhurst, D. (2008), "Engaging a new generation of graduates", Education + Training, Vol. 50 No. 5, pp. 366-378.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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