What is a capability framework?

Essentially, a capability framework is a tool that defines and describes the knowledge, skills, behaviours and values required for success in the workplace.

When used by an organisation, a capability framework can help align the organisation's strategy, culture, structure and processes with its workforce capabilities. It establishes a common language and commonly understood standards for:

  • Performance
  • Communication
  • Development
  • Career Planning

Here are some examples of capability frameworks used by organisations:

When used in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector (known internationally as the Technical and VET (TVET sector), a VET practitioner capability framework describes the knowledge, skills, and behaviours that VET practitioners need to have in order to be effective in their roles. 

The frameworks aim to provide a structured and standardised approach to defining the skills, knowledge, and attributes required for VET professionals. These frameworks aim to ensure that VET practitioners possess the necessary capabilities to deliver effective and high-quality training to learners in a variety of industries and disciplines.


What is the difference between a competency and capability framework?

A competency framework is a way of defining the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that are required for a particular role or job. It is often used to guide recruitment, selection, and development decisions. VET uses units of competency to determine whether someone has the KSAs required for a particular role.

A capability framework, on the other hand, is a more holistic approach to defining the requirements for a role. It includes the KSAs, but it also considers the behaviours, attitudes, and values that are necessary for success.

A competency framework focuses on what an employee can do, while a capability framework focuses on what an employee will do.

There are a number of capability frameworks from various countries and different bodies of research that look to define the requirements to be an effective VET practitioner.  You can read about some of them here:

Australian frameworks

International frameworks

Research papers

Additionally, the concept of a capability framework surfaces on a regular basis. In response to their Jobs and Skills Summit (2022), the latest Federal Government looks to introduce a 'Blueprint for the VET Workforce'. The Blueprint will aim to identify effective strategies for VET workforce issues such as attraction, retention, career development and succession planning. This project is a carry-over of the previous Government's agenda to develop a 'VET Workforce Quality Strategy'.

Read the Skills Reform Issues Paper: Issues Paper_Supporting the VET workforce.docx

Background to the IBSA Framework

In 2011 the Productivity Commission's report on Education and Training Workforce: Vocational Education and Training prompted the then-Industry Skills Council (ISC) (in charge of Training Package development for the TAE Training Package) Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA) to develop a VET Practitioner Capability Framework. 

IBSA defined capability framework as being something that "describes the skills and behaviours that people will demonstrate if they are doing high quality work. They provide an over-arching list of the skills required in particular work settings or contexts".

Although IBSA no longer exists in the same organisational state as when it produced its capability framework, its model is still widely used in the VET sector. 

The Framework defines capabilities required for different job roles and levels in the VET sector, offering advice for job design, recruitment, performance reviews, mentoring, and career planning. Its implementation guide emphasises the importance of workforce development and professional growth to meet industry demands effectively.

IBSA's framework has:

  • 3 levels -  that reflect different levels of expertise and responsibility in job roles (first-level, second-level, third-level practitioner)
  • 4 domains -  that each group or cluster four capabilities describing the specialist skills required of VET Practitioners (systems and compliance, teaching, assessment, industry and community collaboration)
  • 16 areas of capability (4 for each domain)

  • 6 skill areas - that address more generic work skills required for VET Practitioner job roles (leadership, ethics, cultural competence, innovation, teamwork and collaboration, evidence-based practice and research)

Here are the files developed by IBSA: