Definition of Employability

Employability has been used as a public presentation index for higher instruction establishments ( Smith et Al, 2000 ) and represents a signifier of work particular ( pro ) active adaptability that consists of three dimensions: calling individuality, personal adaptability and societal and human capital ( Fugate et Al, 2004 ) . At the same clip, Knight and Yorke ( 2004 ) have put frontward the four wide and interlacing constituents of USEM history of employability:

* Understanding ( of the capable subject )

* Skilful patterns in context

* Efficacy beliefs

* Meta-cognition

Nabi ( 2003 ) mentioned that employability is about alumnuss possessing an appropriate degree of accomplishments and properties, and being able to utilize them to derive and stay in appropriate employment. From a human resource development position, employability is a construct that emerged through the ninetiess along with a turning perceptual experience among employees that they can non number on their employers for long-run employment. Employability is a promise to employees that they will hold the accomplishments to happen new occupations rapidly if their occupations end out of the blue ( Baruch, 2001 ) . Prior to this, Harvey ( 2001 ) has defined employability in assorted ways from single and institutional positions. Individual employability is defined as alumnuss being able to show the properties to obtain occupations. Normally, institutional employability relates to the employment rates of the university graduates. However, Harvey argued that employment results of alumnuss are non an index of institutional employability. He presented an employability-development theoretical account shown in Figure 1. The theoretical account illustrated a multi-perspectives position of employability with all related stake-holders.

Employability and Higher Education: Key issues

Despite the burgeoning research on employability and handiness of a broad scope of theoretical accounts purporting to explicate it, employability itself remains a combative construct unfastened to a & A ; lsquo ; overpluss of micro-interpretations ‘ ( Harvey, 2003 ) . This can do the undertaking of course of study development peculiarly hard. [ p5 ]

The turning importance of employability

Harmonizing to McNair ( 2003 ) , graduate employability has become a more of import issue for establishments. This is: because of the altering nature of the alumnus labor market, mass engagement in HE, pressures on pupil finance, competition to enroll pupils and outlooks of pupils, employers, parents and authorities ( expressed in quality audit and conference tabular arraies ) .

On a broader degree, it has been noted that higher instruction, through the coevals and airing of cognition, straight impacts economic fight on a national and international degree ( Brown et al, 2003 ; CIHE, 2003 ; UUK, 2007 ; DIUS, 2008 ) .

The significance of the UK HE system to the wider economic system has been by and large acknowledged since the Robbins Report was published in 1963. However, this relationship has been made more expressed in recent old ages and it was with the publication of the Dearing Report ( 1997 ) that the connexion found outstanding look. Dearing strongly expressed the demand for a globally competitory economic system incorporating extremely skilled, extremely trained and extremely motivated alumnuss who could execute efficaciously on the universe ‘s phase. This coupled with the farther development of human-capital theory ( Becker, 1975 ) , which asserts that one function of authorities is to supply and foster conditions which will increase the pool of skilled labor, has created a fertile forum for the discourse of & A ; lsquo ; employability ‘ to boom.

The altering nature of the graduate-labour market Dearing ( 1997 ) stated that & amp ; lsquo ; acquisition should be progressively antiphonal to employment demands and include the development of general accomplishments, widely valued in employment ‘ ; nevertheless, the labor market is altering dramatically and at a much faster gait than in the yesteryear. Emerging markets and rapid enlargement of the cognition economic system means that the same set of employability accomplishments which were in demand 10 or even five old ages ago may non be required in the germinating graduate-employment market. Employers are progressively seeking flexible recruits who can work efficaciously in the & A ; lsquo ; de-layered, down-sized, information-technology driven and advanced ‘ administrations in being today ( Harvey et al, 1997: 1 ) .

Employers are seeking people who can make more than merely react to alter, they need those who can take alteration. McNair ( 2003 ) remarks on the velocity of labour-market development and notes that a higher per centum of the work force is employed in little and average endeavors ( SMEs ) , a tendency besides reflected in graduate-employment statistics. While this may offer chances to derive early duty in less structured and hierarchal work environments, alumnuss need to hold the accomplishments to make honoring graduate functions function in what Purcell and Elias ( 2004 ) refer to as & A ; lsquo ; niche-graduate businesss ‘ . Niche-graduate businesss are those: where the bulk of officeholders are non alumnuss, but within which there are stable or turning specialist niches that require higher instruction accomplishments and cognition ( Purcell and Elias, 2003: 5 ) .

Students hence need to be equipped with accomplishments which enable them to & A ; lsquo ; turn ‘ occupations to graduate degree. HE has been criticised by some as being excessively slow to recognize the changing nature of the labor market and is bring forthing alumnuss who are sick equipped to cover with the worlds of graduate employment ( CBI, 2006 ) .

Government policy to widen engagement in HE, taking to increase the proportion of 18-30 twelvemonth olds to 50 per cent by 2010, will no uncertainty have a important impact on the supply of alumnuss in the labor market. Harmonizing to Elias and Purcell ( 2004 ) engagement rates in UK HE about doubled in the decennary 1991-2001, from 1.2 million pupils to 2.1 million. Such rapid enlargement has raised concerns that the addition in the figure of extremely qualified persons may non be coupled with an tantamount rise in demand for their accomplishments and makings ( Brown and Hesketh, 2004 ; Brynin, 2002 ; Keep and Mayhew, 1996, 1999 in Elias and Purcell, 2004 ) . While Elias and Purcell ( 2004 ) conclude that the enlargement of HE at the terminal of the 20th century has been chiefly positive, Purcell et Al ( 2005: 16 ) express concern that & amp ; lsquo ; the tantrum between the supply of alumnuss and employers ‘ demand for their cognition and accomplishments clearly falls some manner short of ideal ‘ .

There are assorted studies about whether demand for alumnuss will be affected by increasing engagement in higher instruction. The supply of alumnuss has been steadily lifting and there were 258,000 alumnuss in 1997 compared with 319,000 in 2007 ( HESA, 2007 ) . Despite lifting Numberss go forthing HE, harmonizing to DIUS ( 2008 ) , demand for alumnuss remains high and the latest study by the Association of Graduate Recruiters ( AGR 2007 ) suggests that the figure of graduate vacancies increased by 15.1 per cent in 2007. Both DIUS and AGR do nevertheless raise concerns about the mismatch between what employers are looking for and the accomplishments graduates possess ( see Chapter 2 for a more elaborate analysis of accomplishments ) . Despite much contention about the impact of increasing pupil Numberss, it is incontestable that alumnuss are confronting a changing, more competitory labor market and they need to be prepared consequently.

The altering nature of the higher instruction landscape

Beyond force per unit areas confronting alumnuss in the labor market, universities are confronting increasing demands to account for what they do and prospective pupils and parents are going spoting & A ; lsquo ; clients ‘ when shopping for the most suited HEI ( McNair, 2003 ) . Given the importance of employability in the equation, establishments can non overlook the significance of developing this facet of proviso. Allison et Al ( 2002 ) allude to the force per unit areas confronting HEIs as evidenced by the publication of increasing Numberss of public presentation indexs and counsel paperss such as the QAA Code of Practice for Careers Education, Information and Guidance ( 2001 ) and the Harris Review of Careers Services ( 2001 ) .

Yorke and Knight ( 2002: 4 ) have expressed some concern about the manner in which statistics on employment rates used in league tabular arraies can deflect HEIs from the of import undertaking of heightening employability. They province that:

one time employment rates become an institutional public presentation index ( HEFCE, 2001 ) , there is a baneful slipstream as establishments seek to & A ; lsquo ; better their tonss ‘ since they know that these tonss will stop up in the alleged & A ; lsquo ; league tabular arraies ‘ published in the imperativeness.


there is a danger that maximizing the mark will command more institutional attending than carry throughing the educational purpose of heightening employability.

Higher Education in the UK has gone through considerable alteration during the last two decennaries. The move from an elitist system to one of mass engagement has been extremely important. Shelley ( 2005 ) indicates that the figure of 18-30 twelvemonth olds in HE rose from 12 per cent in the 1980s to 43 per cent by 2002. This he points out has non been matched with commensurate degrees of support and between 1977 and 1997 authorities outgo per pupil fell by 40 per cent. In recent old ages nevertheless support degrees have improved with HEFCE denoting a figure of & A ; lb ; 6,706 million in recurrent support for 2006-07 to universities and colleges in England ( HEFCE, 2006 ) .

Increased support degrees have led to systems of answerability being put in topographic point. These in bend have led to the development of managerial patterns intended to advance new efficiency and customer-focused, customer-led policy models which should guarantee success in a new competitory market. In the eyes of observers such as Bekhradnia ( 2005 ) the last decennary has seen a mixture of successes and failures of managerial enterprises.

For some observers ( e.g. Brown and Lauder, 1999 ; Green, 1993 ) these policy directives coupled with the accent placed on the part of HE to the planetary economic system has led to the & A ; lsquo ; marketisation ‘ and the & A ; lsquo ; commodification ‘ of HE and its instruction. Brown and Lauder ( 1999 ) contend that there has been a motion towards a & A ; lsquo ; neo-Fordist ‘ attack to HE in which instruction and acquisition is now emulating the Fordist fabrication procedures of the early 20th century. This construct was characterised by the production assembly line & A ; lsquo ; just-in-time ‘ unitization production methods of fabrication industries. For HE this manifests itself in several ways which Brown and Lauder describe as: scholar administrations with accent on & A ; lsquo ; numerical ‘ flexibleness ( i.e. outcome-related instruction and cost-driven dockets ) , aggregate production of standardized merchandises ( i.e. modularisation/unitisation of course of study ) , and accent on quality systems to guarantee standardization which consequence in a bland mechanistic experience of larning. [ p9 ]

Given the evident consensus among the cardinal stakeholders about which accomplishments are of import and on the demand to turn to employability in HE, it seems unusual that there is so small commonalty in attacks taken by universities to heighten employability. There remains considerable argument on how best sweetening of employability can be achieved, and so the extent to which HE can act upon this facet of pupil development. In an extended reappraisal of HE proviso, Little ( 2004: 4 ) concludes that while there is:

international concern that higher instruction should heighten alumnus employability, there is small grounds of systematic believing about how best to make it, allow entirely any theoretical account that can be badged as & A ; lsquo ; best pattern ‘ and adopted wholesale.

Developing a common apprehension of how to heighten employability is a extremely complex issue, although Knight ( 2001 ) believes authorities and others persist in handling it in much the same manner as & A ; lsquo ; invention ‘ , as & A ; lsquo ; something simple, to be planned, delivered and evaluated ‘ ( Knight, 2001 cited in Lees, 2002: 1 ) .

Trying to organize a co-ordinated and holistic attack to skill development, authorities has introduced many programmes and enterprises to advance accomplishment development and these seem to hold had some impact. The DfEE Higher Education Projects Fund 1998-2000, for illustration, included undertakings to develop cardinal and movable accomplishments and Harvey, Locke and Morey ( 2002 ) have reviewed the tendencies in establishments ‘ attacks to implanting employability. They note that there has been a displacement in HE from developing the specific employability accomplishments within specializer faculties to a more holistic attack where establishments are implanting employability and accomplishments throughout the course of study. They present illustrations of employability enterprises from different HEIs which were extremely varied and based on differing doctrines.

Possibly it is inevitable that establishments and even single sections and faculty members will change widely in their attacks to developing employability as they will be runing in the context of their ain frame of mention about instruction, and will be covering with pupils who will change enormously in their ability and aspirations. However, it is clear from the research on employability accomplishments that the properties which employers value and pedagogues recognise as of import are really similar, and there is hope that such consensus in thought can lend to a more consistent attack to curriculum development.