Small Business Economics

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 249–259 | Cite as

The Behaviour of Graduates in the SME Labour Market: Evidence and Perceptions

  • C. R. Belfield


This paper uses three surveys of graduates' and undergraduates' evaluations and perceptions of the conditions of work in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the U.K. The first survey addresses the relationship between the actual career profiles of graduates and their perceptions of work in small vis-à-vis large companies. The second survey is a large-scale national study of U.K. graduates' employment patterns. The third survey asked undergraduates how they expected working conditions might differ across firm size. The distribution of graduates across firm size is presented; this shows graduates to be disproportionately employed in larger firms. The work of graduates across firm size is then described in terms of earnings; work bargaining and fringe benefits; training and the internal labour market; and the work environment. For each facet, perceptions about work conditions are also explored. The evidence shows the working conditions for graduates are lower quality in SMEs and that graduates broadly perceive this to be the case. The implications for policies which overlook these conclusions are discussed.


Labour Market Work Condition Work Environment Firm Size Large Firm 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. R. Belfield
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamU.K. E-mail

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