Employability and talent management: challenges for HRD practices

Staffan Nilsson (Centre for Policy Studies in Higher Education and Training, Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and HELIX VINN Excellence Centre, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)
Per‐Erik Ellström (HELIX VINN Excellence Centre, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Publication date: 27 January 2012



The purpose of this conceptual paper is to illuminate the problems that are associated with defining and identifying talent and to discuss the development of talent as a contributor to employability.


The world of work is characterised by new and rapidly changing demands. Talent management has recently been the target of increasing interest and is considered to be a method by which organisations can meet the demands that are associated with increased complexity. Previous studies have often focused on the management of talent, but the issue of what exactly should be managed has generally been neglected. In this paper, the authors focus on discussing the substance of talent and the problems associated with identifying talent by using the following closely related concepts: employability, knowledge, and competence.


Employability is central to employee performance and organisational success. Individual employability includes general meta‐competence and context‐bound competence that is related to a specific profession and organisation. The concept of employability is wider than that of talent, but the possession of talent is critical to being employable. In this paper, the authors suggest a model in which talent includes individual, institutional, and organisational‐social dimensions.

Practical implications

The illumination of different meanings of talent management and the substance of talent is crucial to the practical implication of central human resource development practices, such as training and development.


The paper shows that clarification of the conceptual boundaries and the presentation of a typology that is relevant to the understanding of talent are central to the creation of valid talent management systems that aim to define and develop talent.



Nilsson, S. and Ellström, P. (2012), "Employability and talent management: challenges for HRD practices", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 26-45. https://doi.org/10.1108/03090591211192610

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