Original Research

Graduate employability capacities, self-esteem and career adaptability among South African young adults

Sadika Ismail
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 43 | a1396 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v43i0.1396 | © 2017 Sadika Ismail | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 July 2016 | Published: 28 August 2017

About the author(s)

Sadika Ismail, Department of Human Resource Management, University of South Africa, South Africa


Orientation: Employers expect young graduates to have a well-rounded sense of self, to display a range of graduate employability capacities and to adapt to constant changes they are faced with in order to obtain and maintain employment.

Research purpose: The goals of this study are (1) to investigate whether a significant relationship exists between graduate employability capacities, self-esteem and career adaptability, (2) to ascertain if a set of graduate employability capacities, when combined with self-esteem, has a significant relationship with a set of career adaptability capacities and (3) to identify the major variables that contribute to this relationship.

Motivation for the study: The potential for career adaptability, graduate employability capacities and self-esteem of young adults promotes employability among graduates, thereby addressing and possibly reducing youth unemployment in South Africa.

Research approach, design and method: A quantitative, cross-sectional research design approach was utilised in which descriptive statistics, Pearson product-moment correlations and canonical correlation analysis were employed to accomplish the objectives of this study. Respondents (N = 332) were enrolled at further education and training (FET) colleges and were predominantly black (98.5%) and female (62%) students between the ages of 18 and 29.

Main findings: The results displayed positive multivariate relationships between the variables and furthermore showed that graduate employability capacities contributed the most in terms of clarifying the respondents’ career adaptability as compared to their self-esteem.

Practical and managerial implications: This study proposes that young adults’ career adaptability can be enhanced through the development of their self-esteem and particularly their graduate employability capacities, thus making them more employable.

Contributions: Theoretically, this study proves useful because of the significant interactions found between graduate employability capacities, self-esteem and career adaptability. Empirical evidence is provided that confirms the need to enhance graduate employability and self-esteem capacities in order to improve the career adaptability of young adults. This will then assist them in dealing with the instability of the 21st-century world of work. Practically, the findings imply that young adults differ with regard to their career adaptability and that graduate employability capacities and self-esteem influence their career adaptability. Therefore, in focusing on the enhancement of young adults’ graduate employability capacities and self-esteem, an industrial psychologist and career counsellor can enhance young adults’ career adaptability, thus making them employable and adaptable to the changes in the 21st-century world of work.


career adaptability; employability; graduateness skills; self-esteem; vocational skills


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Crossref Citations

1. The mediating role of career decision self-efficacy on the relationship of career emotional intelligence and self-esteem with career adaptability among university students
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