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The concept of employability and the experience of unemployment

Lindsay, Colin


Colin Lindsay


This research sought to develop and deploy a new framework for analysing employability as a means of exploring: the barriers to work faced by unemployed people; differences in the range and severity of barriers faced by the long-term unemployed compared to other job seekers; how different barriers and issues affecting employability are inter-related; and how they shape individuals' experiences and understandings of the labour market. The research reviewed the literature on the concept of employability and the barriers to work faced by unemployed people. A tripartite 'framework for analysing employability' was then developed and used to structure interviews with a sample of 220 unemployed job seekers in one urban labour market. The findings suggested that a holistic framework for conceptualising employability -covering not just the motivation and skills issues often prioritised by UK government policy makers, but also other individual factors, personal circumstances and external factors -is needed to more fully analyse individuals' employability. There was also substantial evidence that the long-term unemployed faced more (and more complex) barriers to work, so that policies targeting this group may be justified. However, 'welfare to work' programmes focusing only on motivation, skills and job seeking issues risk improving some aspects of unemployed people's employability while leaving other important barriers to work to work in place. Rather, there is a need for holistic, flexible and locally-responsive employability services that can be tailored to individual needs, and so more fully address the range of issues affecting unemployed people's employability.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Dec 14, 2010
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Employability; unemployed; job seeking; barriers; experiences; labour market; UK government policy; welfare to work;
Public URL
Contract Date Dec 14, 2010
Award Date 2009-04


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