Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand the concept of graduate work readiness (GWR) from a stakeholder perspective. The research attempts to pull together the various multidisciplinary themes from the literature into a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between graduates and the labour market, considering the international dimension of what is a global phenomenon. Design/methodology/approach: The critical review is divided into four distinct sections, the first is to contextualise the concept of GWR and graduate employability taking into account recent academic discussion, particularly in the EU and ASEAN; second, to explore the different perspectives of stakeholders in the “triple helix” of universities, governments and the corporate world; third, critically to assess the arguments that educational provision is poorly aligned with labour market needs; and finally, to investigate the implications of the fourth industrial revolution for graduate jobs and skills and propose an agenda for future research. Findings: Despite the apparent consensus between stakeholders over the central importance of graduate employability, there is considerable diversity in how each imagines GWR is best assured. Research limitations/implications: Any review is limited by the extant literature and whilst it is not uncommon that most research has been done in North America, Western Europe and Australasia, this is a serious limitation. GWR is a global concern and this review shows the need for more research that extends beyond the dominant geographical focus and its attendant paradigms. The implication is that geography is important and local research is needed to develop solutions that fit specific cultural, economic and institutional contexts. Practical implications: The paper highlights the need to reconcile different stakeholder perspectives on GWR and ensure that they work together on shared agendas to improve graduate transition to the labour market. At the same time, the profound changes being brought about by the fourth industrial revolution suggest that more attention should be paid to the employability of existing employees. Originality/value: This review should prove useful to both academics and practitioners because it emphasises the need to treat GWR as a concept that varies according to context and stakeholder interests, rather than a homogeneous phenomenon.