This study explores perceptions on employability and 21st century skills for work life within non-vocational, humanities study programmes. Within the context of a knowledge-based economy, higher education has a significant role in equipping students not only with discipline-specific knowledge but also with skills that are transferable into different contexts. With increasing calls for universities to demonstrate usefulness and relevance, graduates are expected to be equipped for the world of work not in a narrow sense, but also as engaged, critical citizens. It is widely agreed that these transferable 21st century skills are an integral part of employability and are highlighted in various higher education policy documents. Thus, there is a need to understand how students and academics understand and perceive employability and these skills as relevant for work life. The aim of this study is to explore students and academics perceptions on employability and the role of 21st century skills, particularly within the history discipline. The analytical framework adopted from Dacre Pool and Sewell (2007) was used for the analysis. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were held with six students and three academics at the University of Oslo. The data was analysed using the thematic analysis method. The findings from student interviews suggest that although disciplinary knowledge is highly valued, generic skills such as collaboration and teamwork skills are perceived as important for work life and could be better supported within the study programmes. While interview findings reveal that students have mixed feelings regarding self-perceived employability, there is a clear pattern that disciplinary knowledge is highly valued and that it should not be subsumed by learning oriented towards employability. Still, both students and academics value generic skills such as critical thinking, writing skills and source critique as important for work life. These skills are viewed as typical discipline-specific skills and regarded as highly supported in the study programmes. Furthermore, both the students and academics viewed the responsibility for skills development and preparation for work life as a combined effort between the university and students. The exploration of humanities academics and students’ perceptions builds on the body of literature on employability and 21st century skills by providing the perspective of post-graduate students and academics regarding the skills they perceive as valuable for work life.