Employability is the gauntlet that continues to be thrown down to the education sector by the business community and the Holy Grail for universities sending graduates out into the world of work.

As dean of a business school, it’s a word that is never far from my mind. My role sees me with one foot placed firmly in academia and the other in business. And I see the two moving closer and closer together all the time.

Daily, our team draws on extensive business experience to help equip graduates for work, and I’m also meeting businesses who, in challenging times when every penny counts, need to bring good people on board who can add value, quickly. But what does employability really mean?

Surely one person’s employable is another person’s unemployable?

Perhaps that’s a little dramatic, but the skills that businesses are looking for do vary significantly from sector to sector.

Defining employability means looking far beyond skills development.

Alongside giving young people the requisite skills to do the jobs they aspire to do, it encompasses educating people on the application of those skills and providing opportunities for real world business experience, as well as working with businesses to define the attributes that will make ‘employable’ to them.

Beyond skills, employers are looking for people who fit the culture of their organisation, who share its ethos and values, who have an awareness of the world of commerce and understand their role within it.

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude,” said US author, salesman and motivational speaker, Hilary Hinton, known latterly as “Zig” Ziglar. And he’s right.

Attitude has a huge part to play in applying taught skills and in adapting to whatever life – or work – throws at you.

It’s our role as educators to help young people develop the attributes that will ultimately define them as employable. And it’s our role as business owners to be realistic about what we can expect from employees at all levels.

That’s why we’re holding an employability event this month that will provide a forum for the city’s employers, academics and students to discuss the future of graduate employment and enable the Business School – and the university as a whole – to continue developing highly skilled graduates and meet the changing needs of employers.

To find out more, phone 01904 876915 or email business.school@yorksj.ac.uk

• Jackie Mathers is Dean of the Business School at York St John Business School.