From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search

Employability can be defined as “doing value creating work, getting paid for it (unless opting to do it voluntarily without pay) – and learning at the same time, enhancing the ability to shape work in the future” [1]

Extended Definition

Employability is a management philosophy, developed by late Professor Sumantra Ghoshal and others, which recognises that employment and market performance stem from the initiative, creativity and competencies of all employees, and not just from the wisdom of senior management.

For employers, it involves creating a working environment that can provide opportunities for personal and professional growth, within a management environment where it is understood that talented, growing people mean talented, growing organisations.[2]

For many employees, the new contract would involve movement towards a greater commitment to continuous learning and development, and towards an acceptance that, in a climate of constant change and uncertainty, the will to develop is the only hedge against a changing job market.[3]

Employability relationship

There are several options for and many aspects of employability:

Traditional employment without employability

Traditional employment does not include employability. Review of the literature regarding traditional employment and employability suggests that employability is related to work and the ability to be employed, such as:

  • The ability to gain initial employment; hence the interest in ensuring that ‘key competencies’, careers advice and an understanding about the world of work are embedded in the education system.[4]
  • The ability to maintain employment and make ‘transitions’ between jobs and roles within the same organization to meet new job requirements, and [5]
  • The ability to obtain new employment if required, i.e. to be independent in the labour market by being willing and able to manage their own employment transitions between and within organisations. (Van der Heijde and Van der Heijden (2005) The continuously fulfilling, acquiring or creating of work through the optimal use of efforts)

Employment including employability contract

Lee Harvey defines employability as the ability of a graduate to get a satisfying job, stating that job acquisition should not be prioritized over preparedness for employment to avoid pseudo measure of individual employability. Lee argues that employability is not a set of skills but a range of experiences and attributes developed through higher-level learning, thus employability is not a “product‘ but a process of learning.

Employability continues to develop because the graduate, once employed, does not stop learning (i.e. continuous learning). Thus employability by this definition is about learning, not least learning how to learn, and it is about empowering learners as critical reflective citizens[6] definition is important for it emphasizes employability of graduates, which is similar to our context, hence, able to provide insight about how to measure graduates‘ employability and what are the differences between graduates and experienced individuals in labor market.

Berntson (2008) argues that employability refers to an individual‘s perception of his or her possibilities of getting new, equal, or better employment. Berntson‘s study differentiates employability into two main categories – actual employability (objective employability) and perceived employability (subjective employability).

Several employability definitions have been developed based on, or including input from business and industry. In the United States, an Employability Skills Framework was developed through a collaboration of employers, educators, human resources associations, and labour market associations. This framework states, “Employability skills are general skills that are necessary for success in the labor market at all employment levels and in all sectors”. After conducting research with employers across Canada, the Conference Board of Canada released Employability Skills 2000+, which defines employability as “the skills you need to enter, stay in, and progress in the world of work”. Saunders & Zuzel (2010) found that employers valued personal qualities such as dependability and enthusiasm over subject knowledge and ability to negotiate.[7]

Employability in relation to freelance or ad hoc work

In the future fewer will be employed and more people work as free lancers or ad hoc on projects. Robin Chase, co-founder of Zip Car, argues that in the future more work will be done as freelancers or ad hoc works. Collaborative economy and other similar platforms are reinventing capitalism, for example platforms like Freelancer.com, a new way of organizing demand and supply.[8] Freelancer is also an example of how employability can be developed even for people who are not employed – Freelancers offers exposure of certification and in the future similar platforms will also offer continuous upgrade of competencies for the people associated.

Pro-active development of employability

INSEAD, and other organization institutions are experimenting with “pro-active development of employability”. INSEAD works for example with future competency profiles developed by SanderMan CEO, Sandeep Sander . The idea is to translate future strategies into competencies needed – and tailor programs to cover competency gaps for the individual.

A similar approach is also used in leading corporations like Novo-Nordisk, a pharma company with 40,000 employees.[9]

Organizational issues

Employability creates organizational issues, because future competency needs may require re-organization in many ways. The increasing automation and use of technology also makes it relevant to discuss not only change but also transformation is tasks for people. The issues are relevant at government level, at corporate level and for individuals, as highlighted in a recent manifest from though leaders like Steve Jurvetson

Ending employability relationships

Although the intention behind employability from employers might be to retain the best talent, it will happen that others offer opportunities that are more attractive or fit better. In these cases it is relevant to discuss how to end the employment contract including “employability” or “competence upgrade paid by the corporation”. A model used with MBA students might become more common; the company pays for “employability development” but if the employees decides to leave before xx months of employment then the invested amount is due, fully or partly.

Institutional work on Employability

In the past, government had institutions to handle unemployment and employment. In the future this will be extended to include employability.

The Institute for Employability

Singapore, a leading South-East Asian nation, has created a “Institute for Employability”[10] that works on competency upgrades, to reduce risk of unemployment and increase the competitiveness of the nation, the corporations and the employability for the individual.

Further reading


  • Signing up for competitive advantage: how signature processes beat best practice. With Gratton, L. London: Advanced Institute of Management Research, 2006
  • A bias for action: how effective managers harness their willpower, achieve results and stop wasting time. With Bruch, H. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2004. London Reference Collections shelfmark: YK.2007.a.10796
  • Transnational management: text, cases, and readings in crossborder management. London: McGraw-Hill, 2000
  • Managing across borders. 2nd ed. London, Hutchinson Business, 1998
  • The individualized corporation: a fundamentally new approach to management. With Bartlett, C. London, Heinemann, 1998
  • The differentiated network. With Bartlett, C. Los Angeles CA: JosseyBass, 1997
  • An integrative theory of firm growth implications for corporate organization and management. With Hahn, M. & Moran, P. Fontainebleau: INSEAD, 1997
  • Management competence, firm growth, and economic progress. With Hahn, M. & Moran, P. Fontainebleau: INSEAD, 1997

Journal articles

  • Beyond self-interest revisited. Journal of Management Studies, 43 (3) 2006, pp. 585–619. (Published posthumously.)
  • Bad management theories are destroying good management practices.
  • Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4 (1) 2005, pp. 75–91. (Published posthumously.)
  • Professional Manager. May 2000, pp. 20–23 Leadership by Ghoshal! (Interview with Sumantra Ghoshal)
  • Management Skills & Development, Feb-Mar 1999, pp. 38–40 A new manifesto for management. With Barlett, C. and Moran, P. Sloan
  • Management Review, Spring 1999, pp. 9–20 Changing the role of top management: beyond structure to processes.
  • Harvard Business Review. 73 (1) 1995, pp. 86–96 Changing the role of top management: beyond systems to people.
  • Harvard Business Review. 73 (3) 1995, pp. 132–142 Changing the role of top management: beyond strategy to purpose.
  • Harvard Business Review. 72 (6) 1994, pp. 79–88. Matrix management: not a structure, a frame of mind. Harvard Business Review. 68 (4) 1990, pp. 138–145.
  • Hillage, J (1998). Employability: Developing a Framework for Policy Analysis. http://books.google.com/books/about/Employability.html: Research Report RR85, Department for Education and Employment. ISBN 9780855228897.
  • Employability Skills Framework". Perkins Collaborative Resource Network. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  • "Employability Skills 2000+". Conference Board of Canada. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  • Saunders, Venetia; Zuzel, Katherine (2010). "Evaluating Employability Skills: Employer and Student Perceptions". BioScience Education. doi:10.3108/beej.
  • Tempone, Irene; Kavanagh, Marie; Segal, Naomi; Hancock, Phil; Howieson, Bryan; Kent, Jenny (2012). "Desirable generic attributes for accounting graduates into the twenty-first century: the views of employers". Accounting Research Journal 25 (1): 41–55.
  • http://www.employmentstudies.co.uk/pubs/summary.php?id=emplblty
  • http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/14782/1/HEA_-_Employability_is_the_answer_but_what%27s_the_question.pdf
  • Brown, P. and Hesketh, A. (2004) The Mismanagement of Talent: Employability and Jobs in the Knowledge Economy. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Hind, D. and Moss, S. (2011) Employability Skills. 2nd Edition. Sunderland, Business Education Publishers.
  • Schneider, K. and Otto, H-U. (2009) From Employability Towards Capability. Luxembourg.

See also


  1. Ghoshal, Sumantra (1997). "The Individualized Corporation: An Interview with Sumantra Ghoshal". European Management Journal. 15 (6): 625–632. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Ghoshal, Sumantra; Bartlett, Christopher A. (2004). The individualized corporation : a fundamentally new approach to management ; great companies are defined by purpose, process, and people (6. [Dr.] ed.). New York, N.Y.: HarperBusiness. ISBN 0887308317.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "What is employability". Youtube. Retrieved 23 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Berntson, Erik (2008). Employability perceptions: Nature, determinants, and implications for health and well-being. Stokholm University.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Forrier and Sels (2003). The concept employability: a complex mosaic (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Harvey's (2001). "Employability of higher education institution's graduate Harvey's". |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Open Letter on the Digital Economy". Open Letter on the Digital Economy. Retrieved 24 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Chase, Robin (9 June 2015). Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism. Publicaffairs. ISBN 1610395549. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "CVP Assistant". LinkedIn. Retrieved 24 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Employment and Employability Institute". E2I. Retrieved 27 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Brown, P. and Hesketh, A. (2004) The Mismanagement of Talent: Employability and Jobs in the Knowledge Economy. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Hind, D. and Moss, S. (2011) Employability Skills. 2nd Edition. Sunderland, Business Education Publishers.
  • Schneider, K. and Otto, H-U. (2009) From Employability Towards Capability. Luxembourg.