Employability: A Contested Concept in Higher Education

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    Employability is a concept that has attracted greater interest in the past two decades as Higher Education (HE) looks to ensure that its output is valued by a range of stakeholders, not least Central Government. The graduate labour market has changed remarkably during the past two decades with global employment becoming an option for some and a threat for others. In addition, the nature of work has changed with a range of technological and employment practices altering the way we work. It is this dynamic and uncertain context that has led many within the Higher Education sector to re-evaluate its purpose and value. A number of universities have drawn up typologies of behaviours and attributes that characterise their graduates. This paper aims to look beyond the apparent ascendancy of employability and ask why is employability a contested concept within HE? This paper draws from post‐structuralism, Positional Conflict Theory as well as liberal‐humanist thought. The paper is structured at three levels of decision‐making: the macro‐ that of public policy, the meso‐ that of the Higher Education sector, and the micro‐ that of the student.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9-17
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Pedagogic Development
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2018


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