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General capabilities

In the Australian Curriculum, the general capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that, together with curriculum content in each learning area and the cross-curriculum priorities, help students to live and work successfully in the 21st century.

There are seven general capabilities:

  • literacy
  • numeracy
  • information and communication technology (ICT) capability
  • critical and creative thinking
  • personal and social capability
  • ethical understanding
  • intercultural understanding.

In the Australian Curriculum: Work Studies, Years 9–10, general capabilities provide the foundation for the development of knowledge, understanding and applied skills. They are identified wherever they are developed or applied in content descriptions. They are also identified wherever they offer opportunities to add depth and richness to student learning through content elaborations.

In particular, they facilitate the development of work skills, career development processes and entrepreneurial behaviours in work exposure and the other key elements of the work studies curriculum. They enable students to transfer skills to a range of contexts and manage transitions in rapidly changing work and life environments.

The development of applied skills can also be supported through frameworks such as the Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework and the Australian Blueprint for Career Development.


Across the Australian Curriculum, students become literate as they develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions to interpret and use language confidently for learning and communicating in and out of school and for participating effectively in society. Literacy involves students in listening to, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and creating oral, print, visual and digital texts and using and modifying language for different purposes in a range of contexts.

In the Work Studies Years 9–10 curriculum, students develop literacy capability as they adopt an appreciation of the skills of listening, speaking, reading, writing and interacting with others. They are given opportunities to locate and evaluate information, express ideas, thoughts and emotions, justify opinions, interact effectively with others, debrief and reflect and participate in a range of communication activities to support the development of literacy skills.

The development of critical workplace-related literacy skills is essential for students to become effective workforce participants who can access, interpret, analyse, challenge and evaluate the knowledge and skills required in a constantly growing and changing world of work.


Across the Australian Curriculum, students become numerate as they develop the knowledge and skills to use mathematics confidently across all learning areas at school and in their lives more broadly. Numeracy involves students in recognising and understanding the role of mathematics in the world and having the dispositions and capacities to use mathematical knowledge and skills purposefully.

In the Work Studies Years 9–10 curriculum, students develop the knowledge and skills to use mathematics confidently across all learning areas at school, in the workplace and socially. This curriculum involves the use of mathematical knowledge, understanding and skills to achieve workplace and career development outcomes. Students strengthen their numeracy skills by making direct connections between their mathematical learning and the nature of mathematics required in workplaces and enterprises. They use numeracy in any situation that requires calculation and estimation, measurement, spatial understanding and design, the application and analysis of statistics and graphs and the identification of patterns, analysis of trends and making predictions based on these.

Students recognise that financial literacy is a requirement across enterprises and that numeracy helps them manage salaries and personal and workplace budgets and calculate personal and enterprise tax liabilities. They identify tasks that require numeracy and are able to select the skills, processes and tools, including digital technologies, that are needed to complete tasks to the desired standard.

Information and communication technology (ICT) capability

Across the Australian Curriculum, students develop ICT capability as they learn to use ICT effectively and appropriately to access, create and communicate information and ideas; solve problems and work collaboratively in all learning areas at school and in their lives beyond school. The capability involves students in learning to make the most of the technologies available to them, adapting to new ways of doing things as technologies evolve and limiting the risks to themselves and others in a digital environment.

ICTs are key tools for communication, collaboration, content creation, seeking help, accessing knowledge and analysing performance in work and professional fields. In the Work Studies Years 9–10 curriculum, students have opportunities to become competent, discriminating and creative users of ICT. Students learn how to access online career, employment and work information and services effectively and safely. They can use a range of ICT tools to analyse, measure and enhance their pathways after Years 9–10. Students develop an understanding of the breadth of communication, collaboration and content creation protocols and legalities related to online and mobile technologies. They learn different workplace strategies to minimise the risk of harm through the use of ICT.

Knowledge of how ICTs impact on the individual, the workplace and society supports students to be successful lifelong learners in an environment of e-work, e-business and e-commerce.

Critical and creative thinking

Across the Australian Curriculum, students develop capability in critical and creative thinking as they learn to generate and evaluate knowledge, clarify concepts and ideas, seek possibilities, consider alternatives and solve problems. Critical and creative thinking is integral to activities that require students to think broadly and deeply, using skills, behaviours and dispositions such as reason, logic, resourcefulness, imagination and innovation, in all learning areas at school and in their lives beyond school.

In the Work Studies Years 9–10 curriculum, students develop an ability to think logically, critically and creatively in relation to concepts of work and workplaces contexts. These capabilities are developed through an emphasis on critical thinking processes that encourage students to question assumptions and empower them to create their own understanding of work and personal and workplace learning.

Students’ creative thinking skills are developed and practised through learning opportunities that encourage innovative, entrepreneurial and project-based activities, supporting creative responses to workplace, professional and industrial problems. Students also learn to respond to strategic and problem-based challenges using creative thinking. For example, a student could evaluate possible job scenarios based on local labour market data and personal capabilities.

Personal and social capability

Across the Australian Curriculum, students develop personal and social capability as they learn to understand themselves and others, and manage their relationships, lives, work and learning more effectively. This capability involves students in a range of practices, including recognising and regulating emotions, developing empathy for and understanding of others, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions, developing personal resilience and determination, working effectively, independently or in teams, and handling challenging situations constructively.

In the Work Studies Years 9–10 curriculum, students work cooperatively with others in teams when undertaking project-based activities. Students develop interpersonal skills (such as communication, teamwork and leadership) and learn to appreciate the different strengths and abilities of themselves and their peers. Students are given opportunities to explore their own personal identity and develop an understanding of the influences that form their sense of identity.

Ethical understanding

Across the Australian Curriculum, students develop their ethical understanding as they identify and investigate the nature of ethical concepts, values, character traits and principles and understand how reasoning can assist ethical judgement. Ethical understanding involves students in building a strong personal and socially oriented ethical outlook that helps them manage context, conflict and uncertainty and develop an awareness of the influence that their values and behaviour have on others.

In the Work Studies Years 9–10 curriculum, students learn how ethical understanding focuses on the importance of treating others with honesty, integrity, consideration, compassion and respect. Students are given opportunities to explore moral principles and codes of practice appropriate to different contexts such as, in building relationships at school, in the workplace and in the broader community; and to develop the commitment and capacity to be consistently guided by these principles.

Intercultural understanding

Across the Australian Curriculum, students develop intercultural understanding as they learn to value their own cultures, languages and beliefs, and those of others. They come to understand how personal, group and national identities are shaped and the variable and changing nature of culture. The capability involves students in learning about and engaging with diverse cultures in ways that recognise commonalities and differences, create connections with others and cultivate mutual respect.

In the Work Studies Years 9–10 curriculum, students are given opportunities to explore similarities and differences in cultural values, beliefs and practices in the context of work and enterprise and reflect on intercultural experiences. In doing so, students develop an understanding of the dynamic and variable nature of culture and its influence on people’s identities and ways of thinking, speaking and interacting. They appreciate the importance of negotiating and managing intercultural relations in the workplace in order to produce positive and shared outcomes. Students learn to recognise that their own cultural framework is not the only one and that cultural diversity brings great value to themselves, others, workplaces and their community.

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