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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Employability refers to the attributes of a person that make that person able to gain and maintain employment.


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[1]
  • The ability to maintain employment and make 'transitions' between jobs and roles within the same organization to meet new job requirements[2]
  • 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)

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.[3] Harvey‘s (2001) definition is important for it emphasizes the 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 the 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).

Research into employability is not a single cohesive body work. Employability is investigated in the fields of industrial and organizational psychology, career development, industrial sociology, and the sociology of education, among others. 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.[4]

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, a new way of organizing demand and supply.[5] 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.

In relation to university degree choice

The Complete University Guide website [6] (based in London within the United Kingdom [7]) lists the ten most employable degree subjects, indicating the degree of employability with a percentage (of graduates exiting university who subsequently obtain employment). The subject with the most employment is Dentistry, the subjects with ordinately less employment, after the 1st most are as follows; Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, Medicine, Physiotherapy, Medical Technology, Optometry Ophthalmology Orthoptics, Occupational Therapy, Land and Property Management, Aural and Oral sciences [6]

Graduate employability, focused on the ways in which higher education equips graduates to meet the needs of the labour market, has become a central feature of universities' missions and branding, and is included in university league tables such as the QS World University Rankings. Universities' have pursued a range of strategies to support their graduates' employability, and graduate employability researchers have considered a number of models based on various kinds of human capital, dispositions, and psycho-social influences.[8]

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 in tasks for people. The issues are relevant at government level, at corporate level and for individuals.

Institutions for employability

In the past, government had institutions to handle unemployment and employment. In the future this will be extended to include employability. In many parts of the world, Wheebox conducts 'National Employability Test' an online test that measures candidate's Business communication, Critical Thinking Skills, Numeracy, Coding Skills for IT, Learning Agility and Interpersonal Skills. National Employability Test

The Institute for Employability

Singapore has created an Institute for Employability[9] that works on competency upgrades, to reduce risk of unemployment, and increase the competitiveness of the nation and corporations and the employability of the individual.

See also


  1. ^ Berntson, Erik (2008). Employability perceptions: Nature, determinants, and implications for health and well-being. Stockholm University.
  2. ^ Forrier, Anneleen; Sels, Luc (2003). "The concept employability: a complex mosaic" (PDF). International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management. 3 (2): 102–124. CiteSeerX doi:10.1504/IJHRDM.2003.002414.
  3. ^ Harvey, Lee. "On Employability" (PDF): 3. Retrieved 20 February 2017. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "Open Letter on the Digital Economy". Open Letter on the Digital Economy. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  5. ^ Chase, Robin (9 June 2015). Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism. Publicaffairs. ISBN 978-1610395540.
  6. ^ a b Top Ten Subjects for Graduate Employability ( - accessed 2020-02-05 (using criteria "employability university subjects"
  7. ^ - accessed 2020-02-05
  8. ^ Healy, Michael; Hammer, Sara; McIlveen, Peter (2020-08-04). "Mapping graduate employability and career development in higher education research: a citation network analysis". Studies in Higher Education: 1–13. doi:10.1080/03075079.2020.1804851. ISSN 0307-5079.
  9. ^ "Employment and Employability Institute". E2I. Retrieved 27 June 2015.

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
  • Brown, P. and Hesketh, A. (2004) The Mismanagement of Talent: Employability and Jobs in the Knowledge Economy. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  • Hillage, J; Pollard, E (1998). Employability: Developing a Framework for Policy Analysis. Research Report. RR85. Suffolk: Department for Education and Employment. ISBN 978-0-85522-889-7. OCLC 42311422.
  • 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.

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
  • Ghoshal, Sumantra; Bartlett, Christopher A. (January 1995). "Changing the Role of Top Management: Beyond Structure to Processes". Harvard Business Review. 73 (1): 86–96.
  • Bartlett, Christopher A.; Ghoshal, Sumantra (May 1995). "Changing the Role of Top Management: Beyond Systems to People". Harvard Business Review. 73 (3): 132–142.
  • Bartlett, Christopher A.; Ghoshal, Sumantra (November 1994). "Beyond Strategy to Purpose". Harvard Business Review. 72 (6): 79–88.
  • Bartlett, Christopher A.; Ghoshal, Sumantra (July 1990). "Matrix management: not a structure, a frame of mind". Harvard Business Review. 68 (4): 138–145.
  • 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.
This page was last edited on 2 November 2020, at 08:02
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