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International capabilities

What are international capabilities?

Students pointing to world map.

International capabilities are the knowledge, skills, attitudes, dispositions, and values that make up the key competencies that enable people to live, work, and learn across national and cultural boundaries.

A number of other terms are used in place of international capabilities. "Global competence", "international-mindedness", and "cross-cultural competence" are some of these.

Being internationally capable includes not only the awareness of other cultures, but also the awareness of one’s own culture as particular and specific. It involves the understanding that we all experience our lives through a number of cultural and personal "lenses", and that comprehending and accepting others’ needs and behaviours rests as much on understanding ourselves as it does on understanding them.

International capabilities can be developed and used in New Zealand and overseas contexts, as well as in the virtual international space.

Why are international capabilities important?

Young people with backpacks.

It is important for our students to be able to act effectively and with confidence in intercultural contexts, internationally and here in New Zealand.

International capabilities are socially and economically important.

Young people in New Zealand are often learning and living in culturally diverse communities. They have opportunities to connect with and contribute to projects across international boundaries. Increasingly, their work, study, and other choices after finishing school may involve an international component or see them moving overseas.

Changes to migration, international business, information flows, and international economic power have affected New Zealand’s trade focus. As the destinations of New Zealand exports change, New Zealanders who are capable of effectively operating within other cultures, especially non-English speaking and non-European ones, are required in greater numbers. Internationally capable people are more likely to interact and form positive connections with international students, migrants, and tourists to New Zealand.


Measuring New Zealand students’ international capabilities: An exploratory study
This exploratory study considers the feasibility of measuring New Zealand senior secondary (years 12/13) students’ international capabilities.

International capabilities: A summary report for schools
This summary report is drawn from research and analysis by the Ministry of Education and an explorative study completed by the New Zealand Council of Educational Research into international capabilities for students in New Zealand schools.

Published on: 26 Jun 2014