Employability - introduction
Since the Bologna Declaration to the latest Ministerial Conference in Yerevan, employability is one of the universal topics that have been continously worked on and developed within the Bologna Process.
There are many definitions of employability, some of them are misleading, others too narrow. Employability is often perceived as the chance to become employed for a job in today's economy. Caution: This view is far too limited!
Employability in fact designates the ability of finding, fulfilling and keeping work (whether employed or independent is irrelevant). Knowledge, skills and competences have to be maintained and refined in order to keep pace with the constantly changing outside world. The term might be used in the sense of "survivability" including cultural, intellectual, practical, societal and financial contentment.
To reach this contentment even with various or changing environments and requirements it is not enough to graduate with the knowledge and skills needed for a start in the individual professional life. The graduate should dispose as well of the ability to reflect on experiences, perspectives and to link those with the constant enhancement of her/his individual competences in order to progress and successfully cope with change throughout (working) life.
"Employability" is used for the ability to purposefully use all the different competences in order to fulfil given professional tasks and/or to reach own professional targets and to adapt these competences to new environments and requirements.
Graduates' ability to sustainably hold one’s own on the labour market (in employed or independent work, with national or private institutions, at home or abroad).
“Employability” within the Bologna Process
Employability was and is one of the universal aspects that have been continuously worked on and developed.
Within the Bologna Process, employability results in strengthening the relevance of graduates' opportunities to start their professional life based on their higher education. The discussion is based on scientificness and transferability, i.e. on subject-specific and generic competences including individual processes through lifelong learning.
In 1999, the Bologna declaration defined as a goal of the Bologna Process:
to promote European citizens employability and the international competitiveness of the European higher education system.
The latest ministerial conference in 2015 reminded us that:
fostering the employability of graduates throughout their working lives in rapidly changing labour markets [...] is a major goal of the EHEA.
It is not only the European economy which depends on its “employable” citizens, but it is the European Higher Education Area that relies on them to create and defend general human and scientific values.
For more details on the discussion of employability within the Bologna context please refer to the historical overview.