Employability in Higher Education: A Review of Key Stakeholders’ Perspectives

MING CHENG*, Olalekan Adekola, JoClarisse Albia, Sanfa Cai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

174 Downloads (Pure)


Employability is a key concept in higher education. Graduate employment rate is often used to assess the quality of university provision, despite that employability and employment are two different concepts. This paper will increase the understandings of graduate employability through interpreting its meaning and whose responsibility for graduate employability from the perspectives of four key stakeholders: higher education institutions, students, government and employers.
Design/methodology/approach – There are two stages to this literature review which was undertaken across bibliographic databases. The first stage builds a conceptual understanding of employability, relating to definition and how employability can be achieved and enhanced from the perspective of stakeholders. A structured search employing Boolean searches was conducted using a range of terms associated with key stakeholders. The second round of review drew on documentary analysis of official statements, declarations, documents, reports and position papers issued by key stakeholders in the UK, available online. It reveals that responsibility for employability has been transferred by the UK government to higher education institutions, despite clear evidence that it needs to be shared by all the key stakeholders to be effective. In addition, there is a gap between employers’ expectation for employability and the government’s employability agenda. This article highlights that solely using employment rate statistics as a key indicator for employability will encourage the practice of putting employers’ needs above knowledge creation and the development of academic disciplines, with the consequence that higher education will become increasingly vocation driven.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalHigher Education Evaluation and Development
Early online date20 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2021


  • Employability
  • Higher education
  • Marketisation
  • Stakeholder
  • Perspectives

Cite this