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Small wooden blocks are pyramid-stacked, the blocks contain different types of skills

Core workplace skills and why they matter for students

Students who are just beginning to explore their options may not yet have a clear idea of their future job or career path.  This can make subject selection a bit tricky.  It’s a rare person who will commit the time and energy to learn something new if it’s potentially never going to be useful to them.

This is where general and common work skills come to the fore.  Skills that can be used in any industry and any job have been “unpacked” by the Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework. The CSWF describes a set of non-technical skills, knowledge and understandings that represent what employers and industry have identified as the generic requirements for successful participation in the workforce.

The CSfW describes performance in ten Skill Areas, grouped under three Skill Clusters.  We’ve given some examples to illustrate how universal the skills are: 



  1. Manage career and work life
    Example: A software developer takes the initiative to attend coding workshops and online courses to enhance their skills and stay competitive in the tech industry. They also prioritize work-life balance by practicing mindfulness and taking regular breaks to prevent burnout.
  2. Work with roles, rights and protocols
    Example: A banking agent's role involves financial procedures and a retail clerk may perform stocktake and banking processes. Both have workplace rights and responsibilities.



  1. Communicate for work
    A public relations agent effectively communicates the company's brand message to the media and key stakeholders through press releases, social media posts, and public appearances. They also listen actively to feedback from customers and colleagues to improve communication strategies.
  2. Connect and work with others
    Example: A project coordinator fosters strong relationships with team members, clients, and external stakeholders by promoting open communication, collaboration, and mutual respect. They facilitate team meetings, brainstorming sessions, and team-building activities to enhance teamwork and productivity.
  3. Recognise and utilise diverse perspectives
    Example: A human resources manager promotes diversity and inclusion in the workplace by implementing recruitment strategies that attract candidates from diverse backgrounds. They also organize diversity training workshops and cultural awareness programs to educate employees and celebrate differences.



  1. Plan and organise
    Example: An event planner meticulously plans and coordinates all aspects of a corporate event, including venue selection, catering, entertainment, and logistics. They create detailed event timelines, budgets, and checklists to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day of the event.
  2. Make decisions
    Example: A project manager evaluates project risks, resource constraints, and stakeholder preferences to make informed decisions about project scope, timelines, and budgets. They also consult with team members and subject matter experts to gather input and perspectives before making key decisions.
  3. Identify and solve problems
    Example: A customer service supervisor analyzes customer feedback, service complaints, and performance metrics to identify common issues and trends. They then implement process improvements, training programs, and customer service initiatives to address underlying problems and enhance customer satisfaction.
  4. Create and innovate
    Example: A product designer collaborates with cross-functional teams to brainstorm ideas, prototype new product concepts, and test innovative features and functionalities. They also conduct market research and user testing to gather feedback and iterate on product designs to meet customer needs and preferences.
  5. Work in a digital world
    Example: A digital marketing specialist leverages digital tools and platforms such as social media, email marketing, and search engine optimization to promote products and services, engage with target audiences, and drive online sales and conversions. They also stay updated with emerging digital trends and technologies to adapt marketing strategies accordingly.


So what does all this mean? Well to start with, while specialised skills are important in some jobs, general work skills are important for almost all jobs. There are so many ways to apply and develop our ability to navigate the world of work, interact with others and get work done.

If you aren’t sure what you want to do “when you grow up”, focusing on work skills allows you to learn and practice competencies that will matter as you begin and progress your career.

Check out our Certificate I in Workplace Skills and Certificate II in Workplace Skills.