Towards a new model in employability development for mature age professionals

James Cloutman

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    The topic of this research is employability for mature age professionals in the tertiary industry sector, with a particular focus on the development of employability. Employability has emerged in the research dialogue, particularly in the last two decades, as a topic of considerable focus. While much of this research has concentrated on younger people, particularly graduates, relatively less attention has been paid to employees aged 45–64 and to the various challenges older workers face in becoming and remaining employable. This research focuses on such mature age workers, who offer a challenging and rich environment replete with deep experience and escalating challenges.
    Based within the interpretive paradigm, two research approaches were utilised, namely philosophical hermeneutics and hermeneutic phenomenology, to investigate employability, both as a construct and as a contextualised experience. To accomplish this goal, a series of five studies investigated employability through exploration of my personal experiences, interpretations of a range of research literature and a study of lived experiences of employability. Studies 1–4 identified a range of what the thesis terms “key aspects” of employability—facets of the main phenomenon—each with an array of capabilities aligned to it. In all, seven key aspects of employability were identified, including such significant components as the capacity to gain and use human capital and the use of learning to develop employability. At the same time, a range of—often challenging—external influences were found to impact on individual employability. In response to these challenges, the thesis, in Chapter 4, proposes that individuals should commit to the practice of developing employability as a type of “mind set” by seeking to understand, pursue and manage it as an ongoing realisation of understanding and capabilities. This practice can take many forms, as illustrated through key aspects of employability identified in the thesis.
    The first four studies culminate in a fifth study, a meta-interpretation that presents four main research products. Firstly, individual employability was (re)defined as an undertaking involving understanding, pursuit and management of employability, that is unique to each person. Secondly, a range of awareness of capacity for the development of employability was identified. Thirdly, an array of contextual influences impacting on employability were interpreted. Lastly, a learning model for mature age professionals’ employability development was generated. This model is presented in Chapter 7 as a lived, self-directed model that is both person and context situated, reflecting the complexities of, and differences between, individuals’ lives, that people can use to develop their own employability given their unique circumstances, interests and needs.
    The value of this research lies in providing a reflection space on what the current employability agenda aims to achieve, who it is directed towards and what the development needs of an important segment of the workforce (mature age professionals) are likely to be. It also provides a model for individual workers to use for their own employability development and that mentors, educators and intermediaries can use for the facilitation and support of workers’ employability development, particularly mature age professionals.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Higgs, Joy, Principal Supervisor
    • Trede, Franziska, Co-Supervisor
    Award date11 Sept 2020
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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