Where before job security represented the foundation of employers’ proposition to the workers, the new 'deal' has focused on maintaining workers’ employability over the course of their careers and with multiple employers, rather than employment in a single organisation. Our new research reveals that on the face of it, in the context of an uncertain world of work, the focus on employability is advantageous both for employers and workers. Yet, this new relationship masks a potential shift in the balance of power further towards employers, who no longer have an obligation to provide job security, yet at the same time can choose which groups of individuals would receive access to jobs and development opportunities.
Our report finds that 'employability' characteristics are associated with individual attributes, and are primarily defined by employers based on their assessment of individuals’ value to the organisation. This may create a vicious circle of under- or unemployment for groups with less bargaining power based on their skill levels or previous career history. Also, development opportunities provided by employers are organisation-specific, rather than profession- or industry-specific. This is likely to limit their contribution to individuals’ careers beyond their current employment, and so creates long-term risk for employment prospects if the current employer cannot guarantee job security.
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At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.