t first glance, employability and entrepreneurship may appear to be two distinct fields. However, both practical and theoretical findings indicate that the two may be more interlinked than we believe.
It would be beneficial to begin this evaluation by first defining the concepts of employability and entrepreneurship, and subsequently asking the question of what do both fields constitute that inevitably places them in correlation with each other. Given the vast amount of both academic and commercial sources of information on the definitions of these two concepts, we will seek to provide academic (and practical definitions) of both these areas.
According to the Institute of Employment Studies, employability is “about having the capability to gain initial employment, maintain employment and obtain new employment if required” (Hillage, J. and Pollard, E., 1998; p.2).
Additionally, the same study by Hillage & Pollard (1998; p.3) identifies three key aspects of employability in an individual, which are:
- Knowledge: the information that an individual possesses
- Skillset: where they use that information
- Attitudes: how they use that information
Entrepreneurship, according to Professor Howard Stevenson, as quoted by Iacobelli and Eisenmann (2013; p.2) is “the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled”. The question of whether employability and entrepreneurship have a direct link and if yes, the extent of the latter, makes the case for a look into the skills and competencies that are attributed to employability and entrepreneurship.
In a research conducted by Open University, a group of individuals and stakeholders who were directly associated with entrepreneurship were asked to provide examples of the attributes that they seek to provide their entrepreneur participants with. The study found that there was a considerable number of mutual personal skills within employability and entrepreneurship.
Examples of such skills include interpersonal and relationship building, innovation and problem-solving (Evelyn, 2021). Similar to the argument put forward by the aforementioned, another study examining the relationship between entrepreneurship and employability proposes a similar viewpoint.
The research states that when higher education institutions enhance learner employability, they are also making the same impact with respect to personal entrepreneurial skills. Nonetheless, it must be noted that whilst, in this perspective, entrepreneurship may be seen as a “special form of employability”, employability teaching is limited if the aim is promoting self-employment knowledge. In a world that is becoming increasingly centred on technology, there are now countless tools available to those seeking to pursue self-employment and/or entrepreneurship.
For instance, let’s consider one example: building an online store or a website. This is a task that would be considered “complicated” in the 2000s or even early 2010s.
Additionally, building a business website would be considered to be a “corporate” matter: something that would mainly be done by a business. Currently, building a website (at least a simple one with an “okay” design) is a relatively seamless task, using Content Management Systems (CMS) such as Wix, WordPress, Webflow or Drupal.
In the above example, this development alone is arguably a factor that has increased the number of people who have either switched to self-employment on a full-time basis. Alternatively, many individuals have begun commercialising their personal skills on a part-time/second job basis, thanks to more availability of the means of accessing their target audience.
Whilst the example of CMS systems and the ease of building websites and/or online stores may seem minor, it does reflect a shift. This shift and academic research support the view that employability and entrepreneurship are far more related than we think.
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- Hillage, J. and Pollard, E. . (1998). EMPLOYABILITY: DEVELOPING A FRAMEWORK FOR POLICY ANALYSIS. Available:https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/43539201/Employability_Developing_a_framework_for20160309-24658-1ix1nw2-with-cover-page-v2.pdf?Expires=1635173960&Signature=KjYoqJDK34jQ-AGqotF5W4tTYQCI5LbV6DiJ~y. Last accessed 25/10/2021.
- Eisenmann, Thomas. . (2013). Entrepreneurship: A Working Definition. Available: https://hbr.org/2013/01/what-is-entrepreneurship. Last accessed 25/10/2021.
- Evelyn, D. 2021. Https://wwwopenacuk/blogs/scilab/indexphp/2021/03/08/three-reasons-why-we-should-think-about-employability-in-entrepreneurship-education/. [Online]. [25 October 2021]. Available from: https://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/scilab/index.php/2021/03/08/three-reasons-why-we-should-think-about-employability-in-entrepreneurship-education/
- Moreland, N. 2006, Entrepreneurship and higher education: an employability perspective, Learning and employability series, 1, Higher Education Academy, York, viewed 26 Oct 2021, <http://hca.ltsn.ac.uk/resources/detail/employability/entrepreneurship_and_higher_education>.