What is Employability?

Employability is the process of having skills, understanding, knowledge, and personal attributes that make individuals more likely to find and choose occupations in which they can be successful and satisfied. These skills provide help in gaining a job and keep doing the job efficiently. However, employability also refers to changing the job if required and the ability to be able to work in a new role in the organization.

Some economists believe that employability is not just a set of skills but a long range of attributes and experiences that are created using higher-level learning. Therefore, employability is not a product, but a process of continuous learning. According to this definition, employability is a lifelong process because once someone gets a job, he/she continues to gain experience that makes him/her a skilled employee.

Therefore, employability is a term related to learning, not about learning how to learn. It is also about how to empower the learners as reflective citizens. This helps in measuring the freshers' employability and how it could be separated from the employability of an experienced employee.

Key Players of Employability

The key players of employability are factors that affect employability directly or indirectly. There are generally two categories of actors which are the following:

Primary actors: These are the direct factors related to employability. It includes employers and employees.

Secondary actors: The secondary actors affect the process of employability indirectly. These actors include educational institutions and their representatives, such as schools, colleges, and universities. Legislation regarding educational policies and systems is also considered a secondary factor.

As employability is a relative factor that is impacted by the qualification of other potential employees, the educational qualification of others is also considered a secondary actor. Generally, the availability of similar educational profiles diminishes the degree of employability of workers.

Various Skills for Employability

As employability is lined with employment, there are various skills that may be considered to be part of employability.

These skills may be divided into various categories as the following:

Transferable Skills

The transferable skills are high-level skills. These skills help individuals to apply, adjust, and adapt to other skills. The applicability of these skills may be in different contexts, situations, and cognitive domains. These skills are applicable in almost all types of professions, they are transferable from one job to another, and can be enhanced and improved with exposure to newer corporate or employment environments. These skills are not part of the educational syllabuses, usually.

Social skill is a good example of transferable skills. Social skills are related to working well in groups and with a team of workers. The social skills are sophisticated and they comprise interpersonal and intellectual achievements that are directly attached to professional behavior. These skills usually include disciplinary skills and work ethics among others.

Non-transferable Skills

Non-transferrable skills are applicable to only limited situations. They are not applicable to other forms of work environments except for some specific environments of work. As the skills are applicable to a limited number of jobs, they are usually non-adaptable and specific to the kind of jobs where the skills are applicable.

For example, some skills such as knowing how to operate sophisticated software is a non-transferrable skill.

Technical Skills

Technical skills are applicable to specific and certain tasks or activities. They are also called hard skills, and they can usually be defined or measured, unlike transferrable skills. Technical skills can usually be learned through training of coaching.

Examples of technical skills include proficiency in speaking a foreign language or skills in using math.

Non-technical Skills

These skills are also known as soft skills and they are related to the interpersonal behavior of an individual. These skills may include good manners, leadership, interpersonal communication, attention to detail, and professional behavior. Other examples of non-technical skills include a sense of humor, sociability, teamwork, and the ability to teach. Most of these skills are transferable and can be learned with practice.

Metacognitive Skills

These skills are related to day-to-day activities. They are an outcome of intelligence and they help individuals become efficient learners. These skills are associated with control of the cognitive process and they help in decision-making. Examples of metacognitive skills include planning the course of action, taking appropriate and reasonable action, evaluating progress in a given course of action, and working effectively with others.

Cultural Competency Skills

This skill is both soft and transferable. Cultural competency refers to working in harmony and efficiency in a multicultural environment. This is a skill that is needed in a diverse and increasingly more culture-inclusive organization.

Linguistic Skills

This skill is related to cultural competency as it refers to learning and speaking foreign languages that help individuals learn and understand foreign cultures better.

Networking Skills

Networking skills are a by-product of the growing use of technology and it refers to being able to communicate well on social and business networking sites. Social media can be a great help when switching jobs and it also helps understand the online behavior of a group which can be helpful in various business and individual activities.

Key Areas of Employability Process

As mentioned above, employability can be considered both a product and a process. It can be called a product when it offers more marketable offerings, such as achieving a new goal that can offer more employment opportunities.

As a process, however, it is a lifelong learning curve where the person goes on learning newer skills until retirement. It contains two important factors - self-assessment and evaluation of one’s own skills. This is usually compared to the demands of a job when employability is concerned.

Employability can be divided into three key process areas with different competencies and achievements.

Personal Management: This includes creating a positive self-impression, communicating effectively with others, and continuous and lifelong growth.

Learning and exploring work: This includes lifelong learning of newer skills and exploring the various situations and opportunities while employed. Exploring career goals, and understanding the relationship between work, life, and society are included in this area.

Career building: This area includes upgrading skills, learning newer concepts, and utilizing opportunities to effectively build a career. Understanding job roles, working efficiently, and looking at the changing nature of these roles are part of this process area too.


Employability is an important measure of the health of an economy as it shows the impetus of the working force. By knowing the employability rate one can realize the status of the economy more convincingly. That is why it is considered a benchmark of economic growth and progress.


Qns 1. Is there a relationship between employability and labor force participation rate?

Ans. Yes. The labor force participation rate which shows the number of employed and employment-seeking people is directly related to employability because the latter shows whether the population is job-ready and employable.

Qns 2. Does the technology have an impact on employability?

Ans. Yes. technology affects employability because with the introduction of technology the skills required for employability change from time to time. Technology also impacts the key process areas of employability.

Updated on: 13-Oct-2022


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