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University to Work in the UAE: Graduate Identity Perspectives

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posted on 08.06.2017, 14:50 authored by Debra Ann McDermott
This study explored the employability behaviours, experiences and outcomes of Emirati graduates as they transitioned from education to work through the lens of graduate identity. A main aim was to gain insights into issues related to localisation of the UAE work force by examining subjective understandings of graduate employability and the interactions of these with the socio-cultural and labour market context. The study drew on conceptualisations of graduate identity as socially constructed, emergent and underpinning the behaviours of graduates and their employability. The study takes a qualitative approach and made particular use of Holmes’ (2001) claim-affirmation model of emergent graduate identity as a framework through which to study employability in a non-Western cultural context and to facilitate a deeper examination of the processes leading to different transition outcomes. Five main themes emerged from the data on how the Emirati graduates in the study conceptualised their graduate identity and five specific employability, or claiming and warranting, strategies were identified from examination of their transition experiences. The emergent identity trajectories experienced by the participants in the study were grouped into four main patterns: direct, progressive, arrested, and non-starter. The link between graduate identity and national identity that emerged from the study was explored as well as the gendered nature of the identity positions adopted by the participants. The processes of resolving tensions arising from these identity links were found to be important in understanding the employability behaviours and outcomes of the study participants. The study contributes to understandings of higher education to work transitions in non-Western contexts and supports positional and processual models of employability. It also offers a fresh perspective on graduate employability issues in the UAE, in the context of workforce localisation.



Rudloff, Daniela; James, Nalita

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Centre for Labour Market Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

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