This study explores the role of social capital in the development of employability skills and attributes of first-generation undergraduate students in a business school.
The research, based on the reflections of graduates, examines the impact of social capital on participation in higher education and investigates the conditions within the learning environment, which enhance or inhibit the development of bridging and linking social capital, as students connect with networks within the institution and with the wider business community.
The findings suggest that the ability to recognise and activate bridging and linking social capital is an important determinant of employability. The analysis illustrates that when students have opportunities to connect with and work within a variety of networks, they build a range of employability skills and capabilities, particularly the interpersonal and social skills valued by employers.
Students, who are confident and have the necessary skills to participate in a variety of networks within the immediate environment and with the wider business community, are not only able to access a greater range of resources but are more able to recognise the potential benefits that these activities have to offer. The reflections of the participants also illustrate that the skills and competencies that enable them to network effectively need to be developed deliberately. By supporting students in recognising the relationship between bridging and linking social capital and employability, and giving them the opportunity to reflect upon the achievement of interpersonal skills and affective capabilities, their understanding and acknowledgement of employability is enhanced.
Hill, S. (2011), "Chapter 7.1 Transforming Learning: Engaging Students with the Business Community", Thomas, L. and Tight, M. (Ed.) Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 271-277. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3628(2011)0000006026
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