Global Employability Competencies: The Ultimate Measure

Two students studying in a library near rows of books

Throughout 2015 and now into 2016, countries like Greece, Brazil, China and others have made headlines due to their faltering economies and troubled markets. This instability has created hardship not only for those inside these countries, but also around the world as borderless economic trade winds spread the news from one place to another. One factor contributing to these volatile economies is a rapidly changing labor market.

On the one hand, unemployment and underemployment continues to soar on a global basis, while on the other hand, employers struggle to fill jobs with sufficiently skilled labor. Two hundred million people are unemployed, and 72.9 million are youth. At the same time, 40% of employers globally say they are not finding the skilled workforce they need. The United States is not immune to these economic and workforce realities. According to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce:

  • There will be 55 million job openings in the economy through 2020: 24 million openings from newly created jobs and 31 million openings due to baby boom retirements.
  • By educational attainment: 35% of the job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree, 30% of the job openings will require some college or an associate’s degree and 36% of the job openings will not require education beyond high school.
  • Most jobs will require some type of post-secondary education, and individuals that only possess a high school diploma will have fewer employment options.
  • Employers will seek cognitive skills such as communication and analytics from job applicants rather than physical skills traditionally associated with manufacturing.
  • The United States will fall short by five million workers with postsecondary education – at the current production rate – by 2020.

The skills gap suggests a significant opportunity to help prepare learners for specific, high growth occupations arguably delivering the most important educational outcome of all – a career path and progression in employment.

We at Pearson believe this presents a real opportunity to focus on delivering and measuring these outcomes for learners underpinned by our four Global Employability Competencies. These Global Employability Competencies are driven by a set of transnational skill standards that posits the learner at the center in developing each of the skills that enhances the employability outcome. These skills, can be learned and experienced through an education and workforce ecosystem that aligns learner outcomes to career ready expectations.  
Four types of productivity competenciesSeven types of productivity competencies


  • Core academic competencies- numeracy, literacy, ICT capability, critical thinking, and English. This is largely the work being done in the College Foundations group, but could be deployed in an employability solution.


  • Occupational competencies- occupation-specific competencies (e.g. for construction, nursing, etc.)
  • Personal and social capabilities- interpersonal skills and personal qualities that enable individuals to manage themselves and interact effectively with clients, co-workers, and supervisors.
  • Careers knowledge and transition skills- understanding of career options and development pathways, transition skills (e.g. networking and interviewing) needed to progress to and within work.

Most often found to be independent and stand-alone competencies, we understand both learner and employer needs that when inter-connected–each of the four competencies provides a unique piece of the learner’s collective acquiescence of skills, knowledge and applicability as the ultimate measure of efficacy and lifelong success to employability.


About the Author

Jonell Sanchez

Jonell Sanchez earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institution of Politics, specializing in Public Policy.  From 1997-2003, he engaged in independent study and research in Namibia and South Africa.  He holds a Master of Arts degree in International Education from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education, and is pursuing his Ph.D. in Global Affairs from Rutgers University.  He has held numerous administration and teaching positions at public and private institutions of higher education, and has served as The College Board’s Senior Director of Academic Initiatives and Program Development, leading the ACCUPLACER and CLEP program goals on student preparedness and college success. He previously held the position of Director of Special Projects in the Rutgers University Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.  In 2012, he joined Pearson as the Vice President of College and Career Readiness.