What is Employability?

Last reviewed on 18/12/2012 12:44

This section gives information on what 'employability' means, the government's role in promoting employability, and why it is a priority area.

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A definition of employability

The definition adopted by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives is: ”The combination of factors and processes which enable people to progress towards or get into employment, to stay in employment, and to move on in the workplace.”

Priority groups

Many people who are unemployed face greater barriers than others when it comes to getting into and moving forward in the world of work.

The reasons for this are often quite complex, but there are a number of barriers that typically have to be overcome before people re-enter the workplace, including:

  • low confidence and self-esteem
  • gaps on their CV
  • bad experiences of work
  • lack of references
  • high anxiety
  • lack of recent work experience
  • low stamina
  • out of date core employability skills
  • lack of awareness of employers' expectations
  • stigma around mental health problems.

As a result, some people may need extra help and support to gain the benefits of work that many of us take for granted.

Some people may also belong to groups identified as priority groups for receiving assistance through employability programmes, including:

  • lone parents
  • people with disabilities
  • people with mental health problems
  • the long-term unemployed
  • young people leaving care
  • ex-offenders.


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The government's role

The Scottish Government is committed to helping prevent individuals and families from falling into poverty and to improving Scotland’s poor health record. The government recognises that one of the surest ways out of poverty and improving health is through work.

The Scottish Government has therefore recognised the important role employers can play in providing opportunities for the long-term unemployed to enter the labour market. Engaging with employers and encouraging them to recruit from a wider labour pool (e.g. lone parents, incapacity benefit claimants, ex-offenders), is a key priority of the Scottish Government.

To address the problem of worklessness, the Scottish Government has released Workforce Plus – an Employability Framework for Scotland.

This document reflects the government’s belief that tackling poverty, disadvantage and economic growth go hand in hand, and sets a target of getting 66,000 people of working age off benefits by 2010.

The NHS is a part of the Workforce Plus national partnership, both as a service provider and an employer. The national partnership will lead the health and employment agenda which is allied to the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives. The government understands the mutual benefits of work and health and has made this a central part of Workforce Plus.

→ View Workforce Plus – an Employability Framework for Scotland (external site)


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