Employability Skills -Perception vs Reality

Over the last four years, I was working with the topic employability skills of engineering graduates in India. While interacting with people from academia, industry and the student fraternity, there were few interesting perceptions I have noticed that I wish to share. 

1. Employability skills – A new concept 
Most of the people consider that the concept of “employability skills” or “employability” has emerged due to the economic changes in 1990s. But if we refer to the literature; the concept has been used from 1900. It is conventionally dated back to 1909 and the early work of one of the architects of the British welfare state, William Beveridge in his book: Unemployment: A Problem of Industry (1909). 

2. Employability skills - Soft skills 
Yet another interesting perception about employability skills is –It is another name of “soft skills.” “It is an old wine in the new bottle,” “It is all about communication skills.” But today, employability skills describe the wide range of skills an entry level graduate has to possess to attain, retain and sustain a job. It talks about behavioral, technical and professional qualities that a candidate has to acquire through his education which will enable him to perform his best.  

3. Employability skills are desirable and technical skills are essential.
Today, employability skills comprehends the skills and attributes an incumbent has to acquire through his education and experience. It covers not only technical skills but also behavioral attributes of that incumbent. Recent studies shows that the organizations give equal importance to both technical and behavioral skills and in some cases behavioral skills were given priority over technical skills. 

4. Employability skills cannot be measured in quantitative terms
Employability skills can be measured in quantitative terms. Scholars have developed assessment tools to measure employability skills. The major challenge in this process is quantifying behavioral skills. Borich needs assessment model and normalized skill weight methods are used to quantify the skill set. These models use real time data for quantifying skills according to organization’s demands

These insights points out the need for creating awareness among the stakeholders to know and understand more about employability skills. 



Author, Chithra R is a Researcher in Skill Development and a Training Manager Professional based in Bangalore, India. Click to see her LinkedIn Profile


To preserve the integrity of the article, no edits have been made to the text, though a few in-links to other articles on Authentic Journeys have been added. 

Take a look at another article by Chithra on Authentic Journeys - Why do we miss the bigger picture in engineering skill development?

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