How individual experiential backgrounds are related to the development of employability among university students

Keywords: employability, volunteering, sport, first-generation students, higher education, career resources, perceived employability


University students have different backgrounds and varied experiences. This diversity has frequently been examined with regard to performance in Higher Education. However, much less attention has been paid to its significance concerning employability. The investigation of this potential relationship is the focus of this study. In this research, 429 students at a German university were assessed on the strength of their employability, which here is defined as a multi-factorial construct. The Career Resources Questionnaire (CRQ) was used (Hirschi et al., 2019) which is a comprehensive instrument that analyses the self-assessed strength of twelve essential career resources amongst respondents. The results were then related to several individual preconditions: existing or non-existing commitment to voluntary work, sporting activity or sporting inactivity and being a first-generation student (FGS) or a continuing-generation student (CGS). These characteristics were chosen, because they are commonly represented in the student population. In addition, some socio-economic implications are discussed. Significant differences were found between the participant groups. Some results correspond with the findings of existing studies, others lead to new explanatory approaches. Based on the overall findings, recommendations for career counselling as well as for seminars in career orientation are given. For example, students' experiences outside the university environment can be used in career counselling to strengthen perceived employability or a supportive approach to first-generation students can lead to the development of career-related strengths.


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Author Biographies

Andreas Eimer, University of Muenster, Germany

Andreas Eimer has been Head of Careers Service at the University of Muenster since 1998. Since 2015, he has been advising universities and Higher Education ministries in North Africa, Jordan, Malaysia and Vietnam on employability on behalf of the German Ministry of Higher Education (BMBF) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). In his function as Head of Careers Service, Andreas Eimer is active in teaching, student counselling and strategic development.

Carla Bohndick, University of Hamburg, Germany

Carla Bohndick is Junior Professor for teaching and learning at the University of Hamburg with a focus on curriculum research.


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How to Cite
Eimer, A., & Bohndick, C. (2021). How individual experiential backgrounds are related to the development of employability among university students. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 12(2), 114-130.