Employability skills are the non-technical skills and knowledge necessary for effective participation in the workforce. They can include skills such as communication, self-management, problem solving and teamwork. They are also sometimes referred to as generic skills, capabilities, enabling skills or key competencies.
New Employability Skills Framework
The Australian Government is funding the development of a new framework for employability skills. A new name - Core Skills for Employment - has been proposed and is currently being considered. The framework is aimed at those preparing people for work. It will have broad application across all ages and education, training and employment sectors, and will include elements addressing skills development and assessment.
The first stage of this work, conducted by Ithaca Group Pty Ltd on behalf of the Government, involved research and broad consultation to develop a draft framework. It involved discussions with over 700 individuals in all sectors, and was completed in December 2011. A copy of the Stage 1 Final Report is available.
The second stage has commenced, and is due for completion in 2012. It will include:
- development and testing of the draft framework
- ongoing consultation with key stakeholders
- further investigation into approaches to assessment of skills
- national promotion of the final framework and support materials.
The Australian Core Skills Framework describes levels of performance in the five core skills of learning, reading, writing, oral communication and numeracy.
During 2012 work will proceed on the design and testing of an assessment tool to measure language, literacy and numeracy.
The Australian Blueprint for Career Development is a framework for designing, implementing and evaluating career development programs for young people and adults. At its core, the Blueprint identifies the skills, attitudes and knowledge that individuals need to make sound choices and to effectively manage their careers.
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is the independent authority responsible for the development of a national curriculum, a national assessment program and a national data collection and reporting program that supports 21st century learning for all Australian students.
The Australian Qualifications Framework represents the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training. It incorporates the qualifications from each education and training sector into a single comprehensive national qualifications framework.
The myfuture website outlines employability skills as defined in the 2002 Employability Skills Framework, and provides examples to help an individual identify their own employability skills.
The National Trade Cadetship (NTC) is an initiative that will deliver a school-based program that provides opportunities for students to undertake vocational learning and develop work readiness skills in preparation for a skilled occupation after leaving school. The NTC will be an Industry endorsed course of study as an option under the Australian Curriculum. There will be two pathway options: Years 9 10, which will focus on work readiness and laying the foundation for further education and training; and Years 11 12, which will focus on a particular trade or industry. A work experience component will form an integral part of both pathways. An expert Advisory Panel, chaired by Professor Denise Bradley AC, has been established to provide advice to the Minister for School Education on the development and implementation of the initiative.
Employability Skills in schools, Vocational Education and Training, university and work
The three education sectors have different approaches to employability skills, with schools and universities tending to take a broader approach, encompassing general life skills, as well as skills for employment.
Students in Years 11 and 12 may encounter employability skills if they undertake studies linked to Vocational Education and Training. Many subjects involving career education also incorporate development of employability skills. The new Australian Curriculum includes seven general capabilities:
- Information and communication technology (ICT) capability
- Critical and creative thinking
- Personal and social capability
- Ethical behaviour
- Intercultural understanding.
The general capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that, together with curriculum content in each learning area and the cross-curriculum priorities, will assist students to live and work successfully in the 21st century. They complement the key learning outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework (COAG 2009).
Vocational Education and Training
In the Vocational Education and Training sector the term ‘foundation skills’ is used to describe a combination of language, literacy and numeracy skills and employability skills.
Employability skills are embedded in Training Package units of competency. Employability Skills Summaries record how the employability skills are covered in every nationally endorsed qualification.
In the higher education sector, graduate employability skills are generally referred to as graduate attributes. They vary significantly between universities, each having their own set of graduate attributes. For more information there are a number of higher education related websites available.
Employability skills are often considered essential in helping a person obtain a job, or stay in a job and progress to higher levels. The non-technical (employability) skills required in a job will vary widely between different occupations and industries, and will complement the specific technical or academic skills essential to that job.
Employability skills assessment can be a critical component of applications by people:
- with trade skills obtained in countries other than Australia who want to apply to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) for permanent or temporary skilled migration to Australia; and
- seeking an Australian Recognised Trade Certificate.
For more information, see History of Employability Skills page.