Employability as an alternative to job security

Vilde Hoff Bernstrøm (Work Research Institute, OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norway)
Ida Drange (Work Research Institute, OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norway)
Svenn-Erik Mamelund (Work Research Institute, OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norway)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 4 February 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Employability has been suggested as an alternative to job security in response to more flexible work arrangements, arguing that the important question for employees is no longer the security of their current job, but their employment security in the labour market. The purpose of this paper is to test two core assumptions of this argument: first, is employability associated with a lower preference for job security? And second, are individuals with lower job security in fact compensated with higher employability? Both assumptions have received criticism in recent literature. The focus is on employees’ perceived basic and aspiring employability. The former refers to employees’ expectations of remaining in employment and the latter to expectations of upward mobility.

Design/methodology/approach

The data used in the analysis were nationally representative Norwegian survey data from 12,945 employees (2009–2013).

Findings

Employees with higher aspiring employability and education levels have a significantly lower preference for job security, but this is not the case for employees with higher basic employability. Additionally, while employees with lower job security have higher aspiring employability, they have lower basic employability and receive less employer-supported training.

Originality/value

The current paper is the first to investigate how employability relates to the employees’ own preference for job security. In line with critics of the employability argument, the results support that job security continues to be an important protection mechanism. Moreover, employees with low job security lose out twice as employers also invest less in their training and future employability.

Keywords

Citation

Bernstrøm, V., Drange, I. and Mamelund, S. (2019), "Employability as an alternative to job security", Personnel Review, Vol. 48 No. 1, pp. 234-248. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-09-2017-0279

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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