First-Generation Students in Higher Education: Issues of Employability in a Knowledge Based Economy
This paper explores the issues around the transition of first-generation students in higher education into the knowledge based economy. It discusses how the lack of parental education deprives first-generation students of the cultural capital that is transmitted through the family and how this influences the acquisition of the “soft currencies” that employers expect them to demonstrate in this economy. The article stresses the need for focused research on understanding the problems faced by these students with regard to their employability and actual employment, specifically in the context of mass higher education. It highlights the need for research that could inform policies, systems, programs and funding patterns regarding first-generation students; and influence government and institutions of higher education to look beyond creating access to enabling the transition into the world of work.