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Employability and the Impact of Social and Economic Background

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Ana Heloísa da Costa Lemos
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Professional qualification has been considered one of the most important competitive advantages for those people that want to get on the labour market, after finishing an undergraduate course. Based on the typical assumptions of human capital theory, the investments in education are usually perceived as strategic to push up one's social position and also to support society's economic growth. However, Bourdieu's study about social mobility (BOURDIEU, 1980) in French Society in the 1970's brought some questioning about the direct relationship between the required skills in an undergraduate program with the capability to keep one's jobs. As mentioned by the author, the higher the economical and cultural status one social class has, the better opportunities will be made available in the labour market in the future. In other words, those at the bottom of the social pyramid have a tougher situation in finding better opportunities. This research's goal is to verify such a hypothesis, by means of a survey with 98 students that are concluding or have just concluded a business undergraduate program in a well known university in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As a result, it was possible to determine a relationship between the social and economical background of those interviewed and their professional career, putting together the cultural and economical background of their family as well as the jobs they had in the companies that hired them.