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What are the employability skills?

These are the skills that have been identified by employers as being important for a worker to have if they are going to consider offering them a job. These skills are the ones seen most commonly appearing in job advertisements for a wide range of positions.

There are seven skills that make up the ‘employability skills’. These are:

  • positive attitude
  • communication
  • self-management
  • thinking skills
  • teamwork
  • willingness to learn
  • resilience.

These seven skills are important to employers, because if you are able to show that you have them, employers can learn a lot about you. It is not just what you have on your CV which decides whether you will get a job or not, but whether you can show you have the right skills.

All of these can be learnt by doing activities not only in school but also outside of it. For example, joining the school kapa haka group, or playing for your local rugby team could help improve your teamwork, or joining a class to learn a new language could help with your willingness to learn.

You will not necessarily need all of these to get a job, but they will help prove to an employer the value you can bring to their business or organisation.

Other basic skills?

The employability skills, while important, are not the only ones employers might be looking for. Depending on the job, they might also require you to have other, more specific skills. For example, a local Māori business enterprise hiring a chef would be looking for someone who has a talent for cooking kai Māori (Māori food) and has a really good understanding of food safety. This may require getting a qualification, or showing that you have good knowledge of the specialist area.

There are however a few basic skills employers often look for that can improve your chances of getting a job. These are:

Computing skills

Virtually all jobs require you to be able to use a computer as part of everyday working life. Depending on the job it may be simply sending emails, writing documents, or using spreadsheets. However, other jobs will require more advanced skills like being able to create webpages and run digital marketing campaigns. If you have not actually studied a specific computing course at school there are free courses offered in most local communities. Search for “computer skills courses” to find out what is available in your area.

Literacy and numeracy skills

Being able to read, write and do basic maths is important for most areas of work and allows you to understand health and safety regulations, employment contracts, and other documents you might come across while you are working. The CareersNZ website has some good information about where you can find help to improve your skills.

A driver licence

A restricted licence is a key skill that will open the door to many jobs in Aotearoa New Zealand – even for jobs that are not directly associated with driving a vehicle.

In Aotearoa New Zealand we have a three stage driver licencing process (learner’s licence, restricted licence and a full licence) – which you can begin once you turn 16 years old.

You can find out more information about the licence stages and get help to learn both the theory and practical skills that you will need to pass your licence at This is the official Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) website specifically designed for young people.

A current first aid certificate

There are some jobs that do require a current first aid certificate and some employers value an applicant that has made the effort to get a certificate. Some schools, training centres, or employers offer the opportunity to do a first aid course free or with minimal cost as part of their development programmes. If you need to complete a first aid course for a specific job there are a range of NZQA approved providers throughout the country. Search online for courses in your area, but charities such as St John’s Ambulance and New Zealand Red Cross also offer courses across the country.

How do I know what skills I have?

Depending on your interests and experience, you will have a different range of skills to most other people. Figuring out which skills you have helps when thinking about job and career options, and is also key to impressing employers and getting a job.

It can also be useful to match your skills to specific job areas or careers, to give an idea of what you might like to think about.

For more information on this, as well as other types of skills that can be useful in the workplace, check out your article on my skills and strengths.

Key websites

  • - Information on everything from how to apply for scholarships to writing CVs, helping you decide what career is right for you.