According to the principle of employability, promoted by the European Union and by various national governments among which the Italian one, the worker or the job seeker is deemed responsible for his /her position in the labour market. The focus on the possibility to improve one’s ability to locate him/herself in the labour market, and to keep a position within, gives shape to an employability discourse, which has become dominant in employment and education policies. Despite its diffusion, the concept of employability has remained mainly a policy concept and has rarely been an issue of theoretical assessment. This article reflects on the definition of this concept, putting it in relation to the Italian context and more specifically to some recent debates on how the Italian welfare system is changing, thus aiming to reveal some of the ambiguities of this concept, including its ideological values, and concluding that an improved employability does not necessary lead to improved employment rates.
Keywords: Employability, welfare system, Italy, discourses, neoliberal ideology