Employability skills of the next generation of Chinese factory workers

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: The main purpose of this study was to develop and test an employability scale in a Chinese context. Moreover, the authors investigated how socioeconomic status indicators (education and occupation of parents, household income and hukou, i.e. household registration location) affect the endowment and development of adolescents' employability skills in China. Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected via paper-based surveys from 1,146 vocational school students in rural and urban areas in China at two points in time one year apart. The authors developed a scale to measure employability skills in China and conducted general linear modeling to test the hypotheses. Findings: The findings indicate that adolescents whose parents have more education, highly skilled occupations, relatively affluent household income and urban hukou are more likely to attain higher employability skills than those from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds. Moreover, adolescents with these background characteristics tend to improve their employability skills more than those without such characteristics. This suggests that social capital may further widen the inequality gap among adolescents. Research limitations/implications: The framework of employability skills focuses on the general basic transferable employability skills of vocational students. Future studies could develop measures of employability skills for college graduates and widen the measurements of social capital based on the study’s findings. The findings suggest that higher education institutions should be encouraged to integrate resources to improve education inequality between rural and urban regions to the disparity in adolescents' employability skills development. Originality/value: Building on Western frameworks, the study defines and develops an employability scale in the Chinese context that can be a practical measurement tool for researchers, educators and policymakers. The authors investigated the endowment and development of employability skills in relation to social capital. Exposure to social capital tends to affect an individual's skills and capability development at an early stage, and in the long term, this calls attention to access to quality education between rural and urban youth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-679
Number of pages23
JournalCareer Development International
Issue number6-7
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec 2

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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