The economic downturn has caused governments to reassess levels of resilience and adaptability in the face of new challenges. There has been increased focus on the higher education sector, which has been blamed for developing graduates whose skills do not meet the needs of the economy. The author explores a framework to interpret and understand contemporary policy and practice relating to the employability agenda in UK higher education. The article reflects upon power dynamics driving the creation of more entrenched business-facing universities through the development of the employability agenda and draws upon the work of Antonio Gramsci to provide a theoretical foundation for exploration of the agenda and its rise to prominence. The agenda has, arguably, emerged as an organising principle, which has been framed as common sense.