Donald, Baruch and Ashleigh’s (2023) Employability Capitol Growth Model (ECGM) is the result of an extensive literature review and consolidation of various employability models. Recognizing that existing models were originating from different fields and were utilizing conflicting terminology, the authors set out to publish a comprehensive model that would support practitioners in developing employable graduates. Luckily for our membership, the result of their efforts is a model that everyone connected to CACEE stands to benefit from. This blog post will explore ways in which both career practitioners and employers can draw on the ECGM to produce quality outcomes.
The model highlights nine areas of employability capital: Social, Cultural, Psychological, Personal Identity, Health, Scholastic, Market-Value, Career Identity, and Economic. One of the challenges with employability as a catch-all term is that it fails to acknowledge the ways in which an individual’s intersectional identity factors into both their job search and their job prospects. The nine buckets in the ECGM are, among many things, refreshing. They offer a lens into the areas by which a job seeker can, potentially, “grow” their capital, while also acknowledging that someone’s identity is a unique part of who they are and therefore should factor into a tailored career strategy.
The model thus sheds light on how imperative it is that we continue to embrace EDI across our programming and services. Career conversations cannot be one-size-fits-all. In order to have effective, supportive, nuanced conversations with students about intersectional identity, we need to ensure that our staff have access to opportunities for both learning and unlearning. Staff must be able to competently name and acknowledge employment barriers that exist, while being mindful of the power and privilege that they bring with them into an advising dynamic. We need to rethink our programming so that it reflects the challenges that come from navigating career at the intersections, while also offering students a safe place to explore and make meaning of these concepts.
Thus, another opportunity for integrating the ECGM into our programming and services is that of reflection. The nine areas of capital offer students numerous opportunities for deep, meaningful reflection. For practitioners looking to reshape reflective prompts or activities, the ECGM is a wonderful place to find inspiration.
Reflection offers myriad opportunities for employers as well. For those looking to support employability development in their junior employees (be it co-op, internships or recent graduates), prompting reflection within the context of supportive supervisor-subordinate and/or mentor-mentee relationships is a great place to start. Focusing on the areas of Market-Value Capital and Career Identity Capital offer meaningful opportunities for conversation. For example, asking employees to reflect on the skills they’re developing, what work they like and don’t like, or where they see their career growing, are all brilliant ways to support staff reflection. The more we encourage students and graduates to reflect, the more they will be able to clarify and articulate their capital.
In addition to facilitating reflection for employees, employers can also use the model as a basis for reflecting on equitable hiring practices. Job seekers face barriers to employment because of bias that seeps into recruitment. Employers can use the model as a starting point for meaningful conversation within their organization regarding which, if any, forms of capital do they gravitate towards when hiring? Which, if any, do they shy away from? The answers to these questions offer insight into whether hiring practices are equitable or may be perpetuating harm.
The ECGM discusses three overarching factors that contribute to employability. The first is position (an individual’s social background), the second is possession (of human capital) and the third is process (of career self-management). Where positionality is primarily fixed, other forms of capital can be developed over time. Pair this development with a reflective and intentional career strategy, and you have positive employability outcomes. Both career practitioners and industry partners can come together to optimize these outcomes. Work-Integrated learning partnerships offer a space for these outcomes to flourish. We all have a role to play in supporting our students’ employability and the ECGM offers insight into practical strategies for implementation.
Donald, W. E., Baruch, Y. & Ashleigh, M. J. (2023). Construction and operationalisation of an Employability Capital Growth Model (ECGM) via a systematic literature review (2016-2022). Studies in Higher Education. Advanced Online Publication. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2023.2219270.
Jessica Lang, MEd (she/her) is the Associate Director, Undergraduate Career Services at the University of Waterloo. As a first gen student, Jessica saw firsthand how postsecondary education can change the trajectory of someone’s life through transformational and experiential learning opportunities. She has since dedicated her 15+ year career in Canadian student affairs to improving the student experience to assist with persistence to graduation. Jessica sees career education as the bridge between academics and life after graduation. She loves learning about all the jobs you never hear about while growing up!