Capabilities are the things that allow us to apply knowledge and skills - they are vital for lifelong wellbeing and job success.

Many people think we acquire capabilities like critical thinking, resilience, creativity, problem solving and communication automatically - but this is not the case. We need our education system to support all learners to grow their capabilities, to make sure all Australian children grow up to become capable young adults.

It is important that any approach to strengthening capabilities in Australia looks at the entire education system. Early childhood education programs, school curriculum, vocational education and training courses and university degrees should all include capabilities at the core of their design. Outside of the education system, families, industry, community groups and social organisations can play a key part in supporting and enhancing capabilities.

Today the question is not if we should seek to teach young people to be capable or what capabilities matter, but, given the evidence of their importance, how best to do this for all young Australians and who should play a role.  

What governments can do to grow a more capable Australia

We have recommended three actions for governments to boost capabilities in education:

  • long-term commitment
  • support for the education workforce 
  • new ways to measure student growth and development.

It is important to move on from discussions about capabilities to actions. Governments should design systems that support education institutions to focus on growing capabilities in learners of all ages. 


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Building capabilities through education

Knowledge: know what

Skills: know how

Capabilities: Know what + know how + be able to do it

Habits/dispositions: Know what + know how + know when