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Understanding and managing employability in changing career contexts

Marilyn Clarke (University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia)

Journal of European Industrial Training

ISSN: 0309-0590

Article publication date: 9 May 2008




The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of employability as it has evolved over time and to propose a new definition which reflects the critical variables that contribute to employability at an individual level. It also offers suggestions for how to manage employability and careers at both an individual and an organisational level.


The paper reviews the literature on employability. It considers why employability has become a topic of interest, examines how the concept has evolved over time, and seeks to develop a working definition. It suggests a range of practical strategies for individual and organisations to ensure that employability is managed successfully.


Employability is as dependent on context as on the individual. Therefore the current emphasis on individual responsibility for employability needs to be re‐examined and a greater emphasis placed on how organisations can support employees to manage careers and employability. This shift in emphasis will benefit organisations by creating a more employable labour force as well as contributing to attraction and retention within an increasingly tight labour market.


This paper challenges current definitions of employability by focusing on contextual factors as well as individual characteristics. It suggests a new definition and a range of strategies for managing employability within current career and labour market contexts.



Clarke, M. (2008), "Understanding and managing employability in changing career contexts", Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 258-284.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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