Relational Perspective on Employability and Career Management Skills

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Miira NISKA, University of Helsinki, Finland
The number of unemployed jobseekers with academic degrees is increasing in many parts of Europe. European Education Ministries have, thus, highlighted the need to foster graduates’ employability. Individual employability refers to ability to find a job, remain employed and progress one’s career. Previous research has placed career management skills in the core of individual employability. Career management skills include self-knowledge, knowledge of available job opportunities, career decision-making skills and transitions skills, like ability to write job applications. Given the societal importance of graduates’ employability, previous studies have been surprisingly homogenous; employability and career management skills have been mainly studied from substantialist perspective. In this research I adopt a relational perspective; employability and career management skills do not consist of pre-given entities but of dynamic relations. Theoretically the research combines Goffman’s dramaturgical sociology and discursive social psychology. From this perspective, graduates’ must be willing and able to adopt a position of a working life agent with career management skills and credibly present it to others. But are students willing and able to adopt such positions? Do they have rhetorical resources for skillful self-presentations? The data analysed in the research includes interviews with Masters students of the University of Helsinki.