Employability as a capacity for agency in the workplace: The implications for higher education of a collective perspective on work

Peter Kahn, Mariangela Lundgren‐Resenterra

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Abstract

Graduate employability is now typically conceptualised in terms of the extent to which the capacities of individual students match the available employment opportunities. As a result, higher education is increasingly seen as an investment in a project of the self for economic reward. This theoretical study draws on critical realist perspectives to problematise existing understandings of employability. It explores a collective perspective on work, analysing the institutional, social and reflexive basis for agency in workplaces. This exploration supports a conceptualisation in which graduate employability is understood as the capacity of a graduate to act as an agent within the workplace in ways that contribute to the maintenance and elaboration of collectives. It is argued that were higher education to treat collectives as an integral aspect of learning, then workplaces could be aligned more directly towards values that matter to society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-547
JournalHigher Education Quarterly
Volume75
Issue number4
Early online date18 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Employability

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