A snapshot in time: Report
2.3: Core competencies — importance of a set of base transferable skills
What is a core competency?
Core competencies are the basic building blocks common across most occupations and industries. They describe a set of non-specialist skills gained in early life and schooling and provide a base to further develop skills and specialties . Popular terms for these include ‘foundation skills’, ‘common skills’, ‘soft skills’, ‘core skills’ and ‘employability skills’.
Understanding the importance of core competencies in jobs is particularly important for young people, who are yet to develop other specialist skills required for different occupations.
As part of the Australian Skills Classification work, the NSC identified 10 core competencies required for every occupation in Australia.
Table 5: Australian Skills Classification core competencies
|Teamwork||Working effectively with others and personally connecting with others for work and learning.|
|Initiative and innovation||Taking on responsibilities and challenges, being able to start up and carry out projects and generating options to cope with changes.|
|Planning and organising||Developing specific goals and plans to prioritise, organise and complete work and learning.|
Talking to others to convey information effectively, giving full attention to what other people are saying and understanding the conversation
|Digital literacy||Identifying and using technology (including hardware and software) confidently, creatively and critically.|
|Reading||Interpreting, comprehending and interacting with written words.|
|Writing||Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.|
Identifying problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
|Learning||Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.|
|Numeracy||Understanding numbers and using mathematics to solve problems.|
Source: NSC analysis
The purpose of identifying core competencies
Core competencies are highly desired by employers. A 2019 survey of employers asked about the importance of personal skills, which are a key component of employability skills. The survey results indicated that 75 per cent of employers considered personal skills to be as important, if not more important, than specialist skills.
Core competencies developed from previous jobs can also be applied to other jobs. To help inform this understanding, the Australian Skills Classification shows the importance of each core competency across different occupations in the Australian labour market. A rating scale for the importance of each of the core competencies is currently being refined and measure descriptions for the scale are being developed.
Analysis in action: core competencies heat map
Figure 2 shows how important each core competency is in some of the largest employing occupations in Australia. The colours compare the level of importance of each skill across occupations. The rank (1 to 10) indicates the importance of each core competency within an occupation. For example, for Truck Drivers, planning and organisation is the most important core competency, whereas for Sales Assistants, the most important core competency is teamwork. Registered Nurses have high importance for 70 per cent of the core competencies, whereas core competencies are less important (but still necessary) for Commercial Cleaners.