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Employability in the knowledge economy: living the fulfilled life or policy chimera?

Research output: Working paper

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Abstract

This paper examines the processes through which the obligation of continued individual development-captured by the notion of 'employability'-is being increasingly rearticulated and transmogrified by policy makers, managers and organizations in both the UK and US as a means through which individual and social (economic) fulfilment can be obtained. It suggests that, for all the celebratory discourse which surrounds the notion of employability, the concept itself represents little more than a policy chimera: a thinly veiled attempt to relocate the responsibility for lifelong and economically relevant learning at the door of the workforce itself, whilst at the same time naturalizing the social, cultural and economic factors which either facilitate or preclude differential access to and the management of learning inside organizations. The paper concludes with the suggestion that employability is better understood in terms of its capacity for offering an individual with a self-defence mechanism within a volatile labour market as opposed to a new mantra for how we should work and live.