Investigating the relationship between career planning, proactivity and employability perceptions among higher education students in uncertain labour market conditions

  • Denise JacksonEmail author
  • Michael Tomlinson


This paper addresses the limited empirical analysis of higher education students’ perceptions of contemporary labour market demands. It explores their perspectives on the health of the graduate labour market, what factors determine these and how their perceptions relate to self-perceived employability, career proactivity, career control and efforts to develop positional advantage. Further, the study examines determinants of students’ career planning, all in the context of a challenging graduate labour market and higher education systems that have become more market-driven. The paper draws on evidence from a survey among Australian and UK students (N = 433), from two institutions and across a range of disciplines. Data revealed a number of significant findings. Overall, students who reported more positive perceptions of the current labour market were more likely to develop higher self-perceptions of employability, believe they had a greater sense of control over their career yet were less engaged with proactive career behaviours. Students perceived employability, their sense of career control and their reported career proactivity positively determined their engagement in career planning. The study enhances our understanding of the impact of labour market demand-side factors on student approaches to careers. It raises significant implications for universities and their career practitioners in identifying ways of enhancing students’ career planning strategies within a more challenging labour market context.


Career planning Perceived employability Labour market Career proactivity Career control 



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business and LawEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia
  2. 2.University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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