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Work in progress: the progression of competence-based employability

Dominik Emanuel Froehlich (Department of Education, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria)
Mingyang Liu (Office of Institutional Research, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA)
Beatrice Isabella Johanna Maria Van der Heijden (Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands) (Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands) (Kingston Business School, Kingston University, London, UK)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 14 May 2018

Issue publication date: 14 May 2018




Employability and its components have received a lot of attention from scholars and practitioners. However, little is known about the interrelations between these different components of employability and how employees progress within their employability trajectories. Therefore, a model of such progression was constructed and tested using Van der Heijde and Van der Heijden’s (2006) employability measurement instrument. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The propositions were tested empirically by applying a Rasch model using a sample of 167 Austrian business consultants.


The findings lend some support for the hypothesized progression model of employability. Specifically, the items measuring occupational expertise are largely located in the group of items that were relatively likely to be endorsed. Also, the items of personal flexibility and anticipation and optimization were, in general, less likely to be endorsed than the items of occupational expertise.

Research limitations/implications

The major thrust of this paper is a theoretical one. However, the empirical demonstration tentatively supports the proposed model, which implies that further, more robust longitudinal research in this direction may be a worthwhile endeavor.

Practical implications

By understanding which competences are important at which stage or across which stages of an individual’s career, career advisors and human resource management professionals can give more targeted advice concerning career management practices.


The present study contributes to the literature by investigating how employees may make progress within their employability trajectories.



Froehlich, D.E., Liu, M. and Maria Van der Heijden, B.I.J. (2018), "Work in progress: the progression of competence-based employability", Career Development International, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 230-244.



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