The labour market has become more competitive than ever. Employers now require more than an education and expertise in the subject matter, as they want well-rounded individuals who have a specific set of skills needed to adapt and be valuable to the organisation. These skills are sometimes referred to as employability skills, and they are occasionally the difference between being successful and happy at your job and merely scaling through.
But what exactly is employability?
This article will discuss employability, employability skills, ways to improve your employability, and their benefits. So, let’s get right to it.
There are multiple definitions of employability as it relates to different contexts:
According to Dacre Pool & Sewell 2007, “Employability is having a set of skills, knowledge, understanding and personal attributes that make an individual more likely to choose and secure occupations in which they can be satisfied and successful.”
Hillage and Pollard, 1998 defined employability as “the capability to move self-sufficiently within the labour market to realise potential through sustainable employment. For the individual, employability depends on the knowledge, skills and attitudes they possess, how they use these assets and present them to employers and the context (personal circumstances and labour market environment) within which they find work.”
Simply put, employability is your ability to get employed, maintain fulfilling employment, and transition to a new job if required. It is a combination of soft and hard skills and the lifelong process you use to acquire and enhance these marketable skills to get employed. Besides, your employability depends on your attitudes, skills, knowledge, and how you present them to employers.
You can increase this through personal development, higher education, and work experience. While we cannot deny the importance of higher education and prior experience, personal development is critical to improving your employability. Some argue that undertaking higher education is beneficial as graduates’ employability can be deemed somewhat higher than those unqualified in an area.
However, you can continue to enhance your employability skills – technical and soft skills. Regardless of the career or industry, you are in, these skills are universal. They help you connect with your team, take charge of your career, make responsible job choices, and understand your role within your team. All of this will help build on your skillset as well as build on your personal qualities.
You must convey your point coherently, clearly, and professionally while being a good listener.
Employers want individuals that are committed to their development. Rather than allowing a hurdle to derail you, learning how to overcome it will increase your employability.
Individuals who use their initiative to break down problems, analyse information, identify significant issues and provide solutions will be more likely to go up the career ladder.
Any organisation will benefit from your ability to get along with others and accommodate their varying styles. As a result of this transferable skill, more tasks will be executed quickly, aiding the organisation’s success.
This critical skill is valid in today’s technical world as the work environment constantly evolves. You must show that you can adapt quickly to these changes to avoid being left behind.
You need to be aware of how your industry works and look for skills that are sought after by potential employers. This way, you can show them you are valuable to their organisation.
These are hard skills that are sometimes specific to your industry. Unlike soft skills, they can be measured, and being an expert will increase your employability. Some examples of technical skills involve software expertise, data skills, foreign language proficiency, and others.
Employability is not a tangible item that can be measured on its own, but there are different factors that you can consider. Employability is generally made up of four elements, according to Hillage and Pollard, 1998:
Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, you can use these elements to measure employability.
As stated earlier, employability is not the same as employment, and you must invest in your employability to enable you to continue to find fulfilment in your job. There are other benefits of doing this, and they are outlined below.
Remember that employability is not just about getting a job. It is a lifelong development and learning process expected by your employers, and it will ensure that you get and stay employed. However, the fluidity of employability makes it very difficult to measure as it is affected by factors like education, training level, socioeconomic status, and others.