Career development and employability – same thing, different name?

I’m giving this presentation twice next week at an LSIS event. It is trying to explore the difference between what we mean by career development and employability. As ever I’d appreciate any thoughts or comments on it.

Career development and employability – same things different name?



  1. Ah, I do like this! Even if it only reinforces what I was saying to a group of students earlier this week, that employability is by its nature driven by employers. Career development is/should be driven by the individual, and empowers them to understand the context of ’employability’, how it changes for varying careers, and how they can navigate the right path. And I *love* your pictures!

  2. Glad you liked it. Managed to get Fred and Ginger in as well as Clair Danes. Can’t be bad!

    How did your students liked the distinction between career development and employability?

  3. Interesting presentation. IMHO, employability describes a state of being that enables you to get a job/employment. Career Development describes the process through which you manage you own career/ life. The overlap between the two is the interesting area. I would argue that anyone who has developed the ability to manage their career, already has employability capabilities. Consider the following career development abilities; to research opportunities, to know your strengths, to behave in a proactive way in relation to your own personal development and to collect, collate and present your capabilities in a way that others can understand. These qualities/abilities are the kind of things that crop up in many employers ‘must have’ lists.

    The more interesting question is how to do these qualities line up with academic skills? I would say they are very similar. The capabilities that enable someone to manage (and enjoy) their own learning are the same set of capabilities that enable a person to manage (and enjoy) their career. Why have HEIs been so slow to realise this?

    • You can have good career development skills but not be employable -but you would have a good idea of how to become employable. In the presentation I argue that employability is a sub-set of career development. But one of the key distinctions – as Ghislaine argues above is that career development is owned by the individual while employability is owned by the employer.

      Many key career development abilities do overlap with academic skills. Have a look at my next presentation on the Blueprint for one way to define this.

    • It’s not just HEIs that are slow to realise this. Students are also to a large extent completely unaware of the parallels and when I encourage research students to approach career planning in the same way as they approach planning a new research project, it is always a new concept for them. Once they get it, though, the way they approach their career development is much more proactive and constructive.

  4. Fred and Ginger…..Employability is the music that allows employers and employees to dance. Career development is the hardware that makes the music. It’s a a problem when the employee has an MP3 file and the employer a Technics 1200. (Vinyl fans)

    • I think that might be a metaphor too far for me. Perhaps employability is like listening to someone elses record collection while career development is like playing an instrument.

      But, I might be disappearing up my own metaphor…

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