Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Employability Attributes and Personality Preferences of Postgraduate Business Management Students

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

Employability Attributes and Personality Preferences of Postgraduate Business Management Students

Article excerpt


Key focus of the study

The employability of employees and graduates has become important in a technology-driven knowledge economy (Coetzee, 2012; Griesel & Parker, 2009; Noe, Tews & Dachner, 2010). Graduates who enter the world of work today face a number of challenges, like decreases in employment opportunities and job security, fast-changing technology and an increasing personal responsibility for continual up skilling and lifelong learning - as well as keeping up with changes in their fields of knowledge (Marock, 2008; Pool & Sewell, 2007).

It is no longer sufficient for people to have only technical skills and academic knowledge in order to find employment (Fallows & Stevens, 2000). The 21st century requires young adults who enter the world of work to be work-ready, employable and to sustain their employability (Marock, 2008; Pool & Sewell, 2007). Their employability constitutes a sense of self-directedness or personal agency in retaining or securing a job or form of employment. This uses a set of personal careerrelated attributes that employers and researchers generally promote as an alternative to job security in an uncertain employment context as its basis (Bezuidenhout, 2011; Coetzee, 2012; Fugate, Kinicki & Ashforth, 2004; Rothwell, Jewell & Hardie, 2009; Schreuder & Coetzee, 2011).

People are regarded as career agents who construct their careers in a more chaotic and unpredictable employment context (Savickas, 2011). It requires them to develop the career meta-competencies or adaptive resources and capacities they need to design a meaningful life-career in an uncertain and more chaotic world of work (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012; Schreuder & Coetzee, 2011).

The demand for sustained employability and a proactive career agency has led to a renewed interest in the dispositional and psychological attributes of students and employees, like their personality and employability attributes. Research increasingly recognises these as important factors that significantly influence the capacity of people to manage their career development proactively in a changing occupational world (Beukes, 2010; Bezuidenhout, 2011; Coetzee, 2012; O'Donoghue & Maguire, 2005; Potgieter, 2012; Rigby, Wood, Clark-Murphy, Daly, Dixon, Kavanagh, Leveson, Petocz, Thomas & Vu, 2010; Savickas & Porfeli, 2012; Simmons, 2009).

The purpose of the present study is to add to the contemporary research literature on careers by investigating how people's personality preferences relate to their employability attributes.

Background to the study

Research (Brown & Scase, 1994; Cranmer, 2006; Griesel & Parker, 2009) shows that employers' perceptions about the quality of the graduates they employ, their employability and general work readiness continue to influence graduates' transition into employment and their sustained ability to secure it in a turbulent and uncertain employment context.

Organisations depend on the flexibility and capacity of their employees to adapt to a constantly changing and highly competitive business environment as well as their ongoing capability to develop and cultivate up-to-date knowledge and skills in order for these organisations to perform optimally in global markets (Thijssen, Van der Heijden & Rocco, 2008). The increased concerns about the employability of young adults in the South African context have resulted in organisations placing more emphasis on their employability and in helping them to increase and sustain their employability (Marock, 2008).

Several authors (De Vos & Soens, 2008; Forrier & Sels, 2003; Fugate et al., 2004; Hall, 2004; McQuaid & Lindsay, 2005; Raabe, Frese & Beehr, 2007) emphasise the responsibility of people to obtain career information, skills, capabilities and competencies that present and potential employers require in order to obtain and sustain employment in existing and future situations. …

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