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The Employers’ Reach: Mentoring Undergraduate students to enhance employability

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Publication date2019
Host publicationMentorship, Leadership, and Research: Their Place within the Social Science Curriculum
EditorsMichael Snowden, Jamie Halsall
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9783319954479
ISBN (Print)9783319954462
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameInternational Perspectives on Social Policy, Administration, and Practice


The increased need for supporting students who have a lack of relevant employability skills has resulted in Higher Education Institutions organizing mentoring schemes that will prepare students for future career opportunities. These schemes aim to address the often cited mismatch between what the Higher Education (HE) sector is offering and the employers’ expectations of future graduates. In addition, such schemes can also go some way to addressing the differential outcomes in graduate employability experienced by students from ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds (Mountford-Zimdars et al., 2016). A number of authors have links concepts of social and cultural capital to the benefits mentoring schemes can bring to individuals’ employability. For example, mentoring relationships can help individuals to develop a professional identity and networks.
This chapter presents a case study of a mentoring scheme that was run over a number of years, where undergraduate students were mentored by industry professionals. In the initial phases of the project a key issue emerged for the students, which was a lack of confidence that hindered them in interacting with their mentors. Over time, the scheme was redesigned to include supported and facilitated opportunities for students and mentors to engage with each other. This resulted in more productive mentoring relationships forming, and students gaining lasting impact from the process in terms of enhanced professional networks, increased confidence and insight into the ‘real world’ of senior management. During our experience of this project, we have found the concepts of social and cultural capital useful both for conceptualizing the benefits of mentoring for enhancing employability, but also for understanding the barriers to engagement with such schemes that some groups of students face.