Employability is dependent on:
- Personality traits such as conscientiousness or openness to experience.
- Characteristic adjustments which illustrate how one modifies his or her behavior or attitude in response to one’s experience.
- Life stories that make sense of and provide context to a person’s past, present and future.
Employability is also contextual and relational. Contextual because the capacity to obtain reputable job is influenced by external factors such as labor markets, recruitment practices and socio-economic conditions. Relational because work is an inherently social act. A person’s professional identity is influenced by one’s positioning in the personal and professional network and one’s ability to fit oneself within the social and cultural norms of one’s professional community.
Why is employability such a challenge?
Employability is a challenge because many students have the tendency to encounter economic and social marginalisation, and discrimination. In addition, students lack the capacity to reflect on and voice their career decisions, values, interests, skills or goals. The lack of reflective ability hinders effective decision-making and planning, and chances of successful job applications and professional networking.
What directions can a university provide to help students develop their employability?
- Ruth Bridgstock model of connectedness learning advocates professional networking and socially-based learning. Universities can help students become connected by placing emphasis on broad and deep engagement with industry, employers and professional mentors.
- Identity work. Few students are able to explain their choice of degrees and how they have evolved as a result of it. Many are also unsure about making declarative statements of their career identities. Therefore, it is no surprise that they face difficulties explaining to employers why they are suited for the job roles.
- Portfolio work. As students begin learning to reflect on and articulate their career stories, and position themselves in the workforce, they can be trained to convey in a professional way, particularly to potential employers.
Careers and employability learning environment
These approaches are closely interrelated and together they form the basis of an approach to careers and employability learning that is less programmatic than it is cultural and environmental.
Participate in the upcoming QS WorldClass 2018 held from 16-18 April 2018 in Abu Dhabi as we address the topic on “Changes in University/Industry Interaction”.