Learn and Work in the 21’st Century. A Review of Employability Models for HE Graduates: Different Levels of Analysis


  • Lavinia Cornelia BUTUM National University of Political Studies and Public Administration
  • Luminita NICOLESCU Bucharest University of Economic Studies


Academic literature recognizes that knowledge is universal and higher education, as the main provider of knowledge and competences, is all the more not constrained by borders. In this regard, meeting the demand for competences is also challenging especially for the graduates of the 21’st century who are confronted with the rapid changes of fourth industrial era economies. We propose a systematic literature review on increasing the employability of HE graduates by selecting relevant studies that analyze the employers, graduates and educators’ perceptions of the employability skills for graduates. Also our investigation includes an analysis of existing graduates’ employability models and proposes a comprehensive extension of these models considering the factors that have implication in increasing the employability. Thus, starting from reviewing the literature on employability on three levels of investigation: HE institutions, policy makers and employers and considering the selected employability models that propose a better design for curricula, our study will continue with creating an integrated employability model that takes into account all the factors identified on employability literature on each level (or main actors that have influence on employability and determine new requirements): HE institutions, policy makers and employers. This approach aims to identify on one hand the necessary skills and competences for increasing HE graduates’ employability in order to reduce the gap between demand and supply of competences on labor market and on the other hand to identify and understand the factors of impact on employability of HE graduates in order to find solutions for achieving employability skills by curricula.


Alvarez-Gonzalez, P., Lopez-Miguens, J.M., & Cabalerro, G. (2017). Perceived employability in university students: developing an integrated model. Career Development International, 22(3), 280-299. doi:10.1108/CDI-08-2016-0135

Barnes, S.-A., Green, A., & de Hoyos, M. (2015). Crowdsourcing and work: individual factors and circumstances influencing employability. News Technology, Work and Employment, 30(1), 16-31. doi:10.1111/ntwe.12043

Brătianu, C., & Vătămănescu, E.M. (2017). Students’ perception on developing conceptual generic skills for business: a knowledge-based approach. VINE Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems, 47(4), 490-505. doi:10.1108/VJIKMS-11-2016-0065

Bush, V.D., & Bush, A.J. (1998). Preparing students for the international marketplace: Practitioners' perceptions of specific skills and characteristics needed for success. Journal of Teaching in International Business, 10(2), 1-16. doi:10.1300/J066v10n02_01

Clark, B.R. (2000). Creating Entrepreneurial Universities. Organizational Pathways of Transformation [Crearea universităţii antreprenoriale. Direcţii de transformare organizaţională]. Bucharest, Romania: Paideia.

Cotton, K. (1993). Developing Employability Skills. School Improvement Research Series. Retrieved from: https://educationnorthwest.org/sites/default/files/DevelopingEmployabilitySkills.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwiQwMqGv-3gAhUtQRUIHVAtC8sQFjAAegQIAhAB&usg=AOvVaw3xzLi4WblkpegRVxtn4Oke

CPCM (2008). Report on Polish Intellectual Capital. Warsaw: Chancellery of the President of the Council of Minister.

Delamare Le Deist, F., & Winterton, J. (2005). What is competence?. Human Resource Development International, 8(1), 27-46. doi:10.1080/1367886042000338227

Erabaddage, G., Shukri, M., & Khatibi, A. (2015). Review of literature on Graduate Employability. Journal of Studies in Education, 5(3), 75-88. doi:10.5296/jse.v5i3.7983

European Commission (2014). Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe – Access, retention and employability 2014. Eurydice Report. Luxembourg: Office of the European Union.

European Commission (2016). Study of Human Capital in Poland. From research to backbone of labor market intelligence in Poland. Luxembourg: Office of the European Union.

Froehlich, D.E., Liu, M., & Van der Heijden, B.I.J.M. (2018). Work in progress: the progression of competence-based employability. Career Development International, 23(2), 230-244. doi:10.1108/CDI-06-2017-0098.

Green, A., de Hoyos, M., Barnes, S.-A., Owen, D., Baldauf, B., & Behle, H. (2013). Literature review on Employability, Inclusions and ICT, Report 1: The concept of Employability with Specific Focus on Young People, Older Workers and Migrants. Luxembourg: Office of European Union.

Gebert-Persson, S., Mattsson, L.-G., & Öberg, C. (2014). The network approach. A theoretical discussion. IMP Conference Doctoral Colloquium, September 1-3, Bordeaux, France.

Gedye, S., & Beaumont, E. (2018). The ability to get a job: student understandings and definitions of employability. Education + Training, 60(5), 406-420. doi:10.1108/ET-10-2017-0159

Gruden, N., & Stare, A. (2018). The influence of behavioral competencies on project performance. Project Management Journal, 49(3), 98-109. doi:10.1177/2F8756972818770841

Gundlach, E., & Nunnenkamp, P. (1997). Labour markets in the global economy: How to prevent rising wage gaps and unemployment. Kieler Diskussionsbeiträge, 305. Retrieved from https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/969/1/kd305.pdf

Harvey, L. (2002). Employability and Diversity. Retrieved from http://www.qualityresearchinternational.com/Harvey%20papers/Employability%20and%20Diversity%20paper%20sdd-harvey-0602.pdf

Johnston, W.B. (1991). Global Workforce 2000: The new world labor market. Harvard Business Review, 912(46), 115-126.

Ken, S., & Cheah, Y.Y. (2012). Business Graduates’ Competencies in the Eyes of Employers: An Exploratory Study in Malaysia. World Review of Business Research, 2(2), 176-190.

Lowden, K., Hall, S., Elliot, D., & Lewin, J. (2011). Employers’ perception of the employability skills of new graduates. London, UK: Edge Foundation.

McMurray, S., Dutton, M., McQuaid, R., & Richard, A. (2015). Employers demand from business graduates. Education+Training, 58(1), 112-132. doi:10.1108/ET-02-2014-0017

McQuaid, R.W., & Lindsay, C. (2004). The concept of Employability. Urban Studies, 42(2), 197-219. doi:10.1080/2F0042098042000316100

Mill, R. (2011). Hiring and Learning in Online Global Labour Markets. Net Institute. Retrieved from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1957962

Muller, W., & Wolbers, M.H.J. (2006). Educational attainment in the European Union: recent trends in qualification patterns. In Muller, W. & Gangl, M. (Eds.), Transitions from education to work in Europe (pp. 23-62). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

National Network of Business and Industry Associations (2014). Common employability skills. A foundation for success in the workplace: The skills all employee need, no matter where they work. Retrieved from: https://s3.amazonaws.com/brt.org/archive/Common%20Employability_asingle_fm.pdf

Nicolescu, L. (2018). The Employability Skills of University Graduates – A Literature Review. International Conference Enterprises in the Global Economy, October 4, Constanta, Romania.

Nicolescu, L., & Dima, A.M. (2010). The Quality of Educational Services – Institutional case Study from Romanian Higher Education. Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences, 29(E), 100-108.

Nicolescu, L., & Păun, C. (2009). Relating higher education with the Labour Market: Graduates’ expectations and employers’ requirements. Tertiary Education and Management, 15(1), 17-33. doi:10.1080/13583880802700024

OECD (2016). Enhancing employability. Report prepared for the G20 Employment working group with inputs from The International Monetary Fund. Retrieved from: https://www.oecd.org/employment/emp/Enhancing-Employability-G20-Report-2016.pdf

Petcu, V., Petcu, A., Hâj, C., Santa, R., & Fiţ, C.R. (2015). Practical guide for internationalization of Romanian higher education [Ghid practic privind internaţionalizarea învăţământului superior românesc]. Higher education Policy Series, 11, 21-22.

Pînzaru, F., Mihalcea, A., & Zbuchea, A. (2017). Recruiting and motivating millennials: empirical insights for managers. In Proceeding of the 11th International Management Conference „The role of management in the economic paradigm of the XXIst century” (pp. 729-737). Bucharest, Romania: ASE.

Pool, L.D., & Sewell, P. (2007). The key to employability: developing a practical model of graduate employability. Education+Training, 49(4), 277-289. doi:10.1108/00400910710754435

Robles, M.M. (2012). Executive Perceptions of the Top 10 Soft Skills Needed in Today’s Workplace. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(4), 453-465. doi:10.1177/2F1080569912460400

Rothwell, A., & Arnold, J. (2007). Self - perceived employability: development and validation of a scale. Personnel Review, 32(1), 23-41. doi:10.1108/00483480710716704

Rothwell, A., Jewell, S., & Hardie, M. (2009). Self- perceived employability: Investigating the responses of post-graduate students. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75, 152-161. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2009.05.002

Sawyer, W.C., & Sprinkle, R.L. (2003). International Economics. New Jersey, NJ: Pearson Education.

Sienkiewicz, L., Jawor-Joniewicz, A., & Sajkiewicz, B. (2014). Competency-based human resources management. The lifelong learning perspective. Warsaw, Poland: Educational Research Institute.

Teichler, U. (2018). Higher Education and Graduate Employment: Changing Conditions and Challenges. INCHER Working Paper No. 10, Kassel, Germany: International Center for Higher Education Research.

Vanhercke, D., De Cuyper, N., Peeters, E., & De Witte, H. (2012). Defining perceived employability: a psychological approach. Personnel Review, 43(4), 592-605. doi:10.1108/PR-07-2012-0110

Vogler-Ludwig, K. (2006). Changing scenarios for European labor markets. Forecasting Skills and Labour Market Needs. Statements and Comments. Retrieved from: http://www.oph.fi/download/145379_germany.pdf

WEF (2016). The Future of Jobs - Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Retrieved from: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs.pdf

WEF (2018). The Global Competitiveness Report. Retrieved from: https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-competitveness-report-2018

Yorke, M., & Knight, P.T. (2006). Embedding employability into the curriculum. Learning and Employability Series. Retrieved from: https://www.qualityresearchinternational.com/esecttools/esectpubs/yorkeknightembedding.pdf

Yu, C.-M. J., Guang, J.-L., Yang, K.-P., & Chiao, Y.-C. (2005). Developing the skills for International Business. Journal of Teaching in International Business, 16(4), 5-26.




How to Cite

BUTUM, L. C., & NICOLESCU, L. (2019). Learn and Work in the 21’st Century. A Review of Employability Models for HE Graduates: Different Levels of Analysis. Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy, 7(1), 71–86. Retrieved from https://www.managementdynamics.ro/index.php/journal/article/view/297