University of Leicester
2018WilliamsSPhD.pdf (4.35 MB)

Exploring The Role Of UK Higher Education In Developing Employability: A Mixed Methods Approach

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posted on 2019-01-31, 15:22 authored by Stella Williams
This thesis investigates current understandings surrounding factors making up the construct of employability. The project comprises three consecutive stages aimed at clarifying the nature of employability and Higher Education (HE) role in individual employability development. Stage one, a review of the literature, was conducted to explore current patterns and conflicts regarding the nature of employability within published research. Investigations of this literature indicated a need to integrate previous theoretical developments within any future advancements of the concept of employability. Additional consideration of employers’ perspectives was deemed necessary to develop a robust theoretical framework. Stage two utilised Repertory Grid Technique (RGT) to explore the implicit theories of 22 employers and 14 HE instructors involved in the development of employability. Content analysis of elicited constructs developed 16 superordinate, and 30 subordinate categories to account for the data. A differential analysis of employers and HE instructors supported the generalisability of academically generated employability theories to employers; while highlighting potential areas of disparity between the two stakeholder’s foci. Further support was given to the value of mediating employability processes (self and signal-management) as a focus of employability variations. Stage three, sought to construct and offer initial validation of a measurement tool designed to assess personal strengths underlying the two named employability processes (self-management and signal-management). Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) identified 10 latent factors underlying the tools subscales; Positive Self-Evaluations, Signalling Fit, Verbal Communication, Planning, Honesty, Openness, Resilience, Working Cooperatively, Conscientiousness and Sensitivity to Others. Multiple Regressions partially supported the relationship between these strengths and measures of objective and subjective career success. The thesis research offers original methodologies for exploring this phenomenon. It provides a conceptual framework representative of data gathered in stage one and two, which contextualises the role of individual strengths.



Randall, Ray; Steele, Catherine; Maltby, John

Date of award


Author affiliation

Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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