Learning to stay employable

D. Fröhlich*, S.A.J. Beausaert, M.S.R. Segers, M. Gerken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of chronological age and formal and informal learning activities on employability. Furthermore, indirect effects of age on employability via learning activities were tested.

Design/methodology/approach - The authors conducted quantitative, cross-sectional survey research (n = 780) in three Dutch and Austrian organizations to study the relationship between chronological age, formal and informal learning activities, and employability using structural equation modeling.

Findings - The authors find that both formal and informal learning increase employees' employability. However, each type of learning contributes to different components of employability. Additionally, the authors find indirect effects of chronological age on employability via formal learning.

Research limitations/implications - The results question the focus on chronological age in organizational and political decision making and contribute new insights for the management of an increasingly older workforce.

Practical implications - The findings question the predominant use of chronological age as decisive criterion in organizational and national policies and call for closer examination of stereotypes against older employees. Employees should be supported in pursuing learning activities - irrespective of their chronological age. The implications of limiting employees' access to formal learning activities may limit their future employability. Individual employees, however, are in control of their informal learning activities, and this is a very important lever to maintain and develop employability.

Social implications - Given the increasing dependency of social welfare systems on older people's active participation in the labor market, this study stresses that it is not chronological age per se that affects people's employability. This diverges from the way of how chronological age is used in policy making.

Originality/value - This study contributes further evidence for the relationships of age and formal and informal learning on employability. Additionally, it extends previous literature by examining different effects on different facets of employability, criticizing the prevalent use of chronological age, and investigating potential mediation effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-525
JournalCareer Development International
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


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