Employability in times of digitalization

Employability Management has been a major trend in human resources for some time. But not only as an entrepreneur or a recruiter, the knowledge of employability helps you, also for employees it is an interesting concept that is worth rethinking. Read what Employability is and why you or your employees should get fit for the job market in this article.

What is Employability?

Employability translates as employability. This approach is about making or keeping workers fit for the labour market throughout their lives. This brings with it increased success for companies and for employees.
In 1996, the term was first used in German-speaking countries. Due to an ageing society, more flexible forms of work and an increase in self-employment, employability has become a popular concept among HR developers. It is about maintaining and promoting the ability to prepare and adapt to new jobs and requirements throughout the life. Professional competence, soft skills and the right mindset play a decisive role for Employability.

Lifelong learning and an entrepreneurial attitude towards the labour market sound relatively easy to implement, but unfortunately the implementation is different.

Only between a quarter and a third of the workers on the German market really meet the employability criteria. The proportion is higher among managers, as qualities such as entrepreneurial thinking and willingness to learn are usually more prevalent here. However, Employability is important for every hierarchy level, for young and old. The fitness of the labour market can be learned. Just because someone has struggled with learning and shows no motivation to do so on their part does not have to stay that way forever. Hrmanagers should be able to understand why there is no willingness to learn and what would help the individual to increase their employability. Hidden talents should also be sought and used in a targeted manner. This is not only good for the employee, but also offers the company the previously untapped potential for innovation.

Increasing employability offers many advantages for the employee, but the company is also not neglected. The loyalty, creativity and motivation of employees can be increased. Professionally qualified employees who know what their key competences are and who use them in a targeted manner and also have very good soft skills ensure a good corporate culture, innovations and a continuous optimization of the work. A good reputation of the company is also a pleasant side effect.

Unfortunately, far too few companies still offer support measures for employability and leave it to workers to develop for life. At the individual level, however, there are usually fewer resources and resources available to increase one’s own employability. Training and development opportunities are often only attended by workers who already have a high level of employability, in private life and at their own expense. So today we need a fundamental rethink of how employability can be improved in the form of training, training, training and so on in a business context. Large companies such as Microsoft and Lufthansa are already successfully offering such employability programs.

For employer attractiveness, the focus on employability is also a decisive factor, as more and more employees pay attention to benefits away from or in addition to salary. Measures to increase employability are also conducive to job satisfaction and employees are happy to tie themselves to your company for longer.

How does digitalization affect employability?

Since the beginning of digitalization, the employability of low-skilled workers has declined sharply. This is now increasingly affecting skilled workers even at a medium level. Simple work that does not require qualifications was initially outsourced and other tasks automated. As a result, the need for a low-skilled workforce has declined and is decreasing. New job profiles usually do not arise in the qualification level, as the work is taken over from the outset by machines or low-wage countries. New professions that have emerged in the course of digitalization, such as data analyst or software developer, all require a high level of qualification. This tarnishes the employability of low-skilled workers.

On the one hand, digitalisation is taking jobs, and on the other hand, it is creating completely new areas of responsibility and the need for manpower. Digitised processes need to be reviewed and coordinated, a profession that did not exist before. However, experts are usually needed for these new tasks.

One opportunity for digitalisation,even for low-skilled workers, to create meaningful jobs is to support workers with digital tools. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, chatbots or virtual reality can assist with questions and problems, thus also making low-skilled employees competent employees or experts in their field.

For example, an employee in the call center could be provided with a complete profile of the respective customer or prospect by means of data enrichment, which enables him to respond specifically to the customer and his wishes, problems and needs without mastering great social intelligence or questioning techniques. Even a machine could be serviced with augmented reality glasses by anyone, if the glasses show exactly what to do and what the next step is. Of course, such concepts cannot be implemented overnight, but in the long term the employability of medium to low-skilled workers could be increased again.

Digitalization has also enabled gamification and other achievements of today, such as learning apps, to support lifelong learning. For each type of learning and character, the diversity of offers can provide a suitable strategy to increase employability. This is particularly interesting for personnel or corresponding agencies and (further) educational institutions.

Another effect of digitization on employability is that there is no longer a blueprint for a perfect career. The linear CURRICULUM vitae without gaps, with long experience in a company and regular promotions in the same field, has run out. It is replaced by individual pathways of experience and training. Time abroad, experience from self-employment, project work or frequent industry changes are all no longer a disadvantage, but show the ability to adapt, entrepreneurial thinking and a high willingness to learn. The acquired knowledge from training or studies also lasted much longer in the past and was usually the entire period of employment over-current. That is no longer the case today and the pace of change is likely to increase.


In the course of digitalization, the world of work is constantly changing. This requires consistent adaptation, reorientation and innovative thinking. Flexibility is expected from both companies and employees. For recruiters who want to promote employee employability, this means an increase in challenges, but also opportunities. Learning should be fun and not create pressure to perform or exam. The right measure is different individually and it is important to find out. This offers the employee many advantages, by a better qualification and increased skills increases his labour market fitness. The company also benefits from increased skills, job satisfaction and attractiveness as a modern employer.

If you’re looking for quick success without investing, you’re wrong about Employability. First of all, money, as well as time, must be invested in order to bear the fruits of capable workers. If you want to increase employability in your company, you need transparent framework conditions and an analysis of which professional or interdisciplinary competences and soft skills are really important before it goes into further planning of measures. Once this is done, increased employability will bring long-term success to employees and employers.

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