National Industry Skills Standards - Taking Training Packages beyond training

National Industry
Skills Standards
Taking Training
beyond training

                    Prepared for Service Skills Australia by Caitlin Harris

Overview                                                                                                                                               2

1. Standards for skills                                                                                                                                7

    1.1. Innovative and future-focused                                                                                                                 8

    1.2. Driving reform                                                                                                                                9

    1.3. B
          uilding capability in a
         competency-based system                                                                                                                     10

    1.4. Flexible workforce solutions                                                                                                                11

    1.5. Skills standards in a global economy                                                                                                        19

2. International Perspectives                                                                                                                        21

    2.1. We have a world-class VET system                                                                                                            21

    2.2. Australian education – an international success story                                                                                      22

3. Measuring impact                                                                                                                                  23

3.1. Outcomes for Students                                                                                                                           23

3.2. Outcomes for Employers                                                                                                                          24

3.3. Outcomes for Industry                                                                                                                           26

4. Looking to the future                                                                                                                             27

References                                                                                                                                           28

A note on data: A robust debate about whether Training Packages are being effectively utilised is impossible without data on enrolments in private – and
enterprise-funded training. There are many “hidden” economic and social benefits of Training Packages, many of which are described in this paper. Many
niche qualifications have enormous economic and social impacts, irrespective of enrolment numbers.

A note on language: Training Packages do not tell you how to train, but rather specify the industry standard to be assessed against. For this reason, this
paper describes Training Packages as National Industry Skills Standards to better reflect their purpose and characteristics.

Training Packages            Standards for skills

specify the skills and       Despite their name, training is just one context in
                             which Training Packages are used.
knowledge required to        The national industry skills standards in Training
perform effectively in       Packages also underpin workforce development
                             and planning, intra- and inter-occupational mobility,
the workplace. They do       skilled migration and regulation and licensing.
                             They allow governments to initiate strategic reform
not prescribe how an         quickly, effectively and across the whole economy.

individual should be         They provide a comprehensive framework for
                             integrating skills and workforce development at the
trained. Trainers and        national, enterprise and personal level, across 85
                             per cent of Australian occupations.
supervisors develop
                             This diversity of application, and the positive social,
learning strategies          economic and environmental impacts that follow,
                             is why national industry skills standards will be the
to support individual        enduring feature of Australia’s vocational education
learners’ needs, abilities   and training (VET) system.

and circumstances.1          Innovative and future-focused
                             Training Packages reflect where industry sees itself
                             heading. As well as defining immediate priorities and
                             workforce practices, they drive innovation by reflecting
                             strategic and emerging skill needs. Because they are
                             future-focused and continuously reviewed Training
                             Packages keep pace with technological changes and
                             cutting-edge industry practices.

                             Training Packages are more relevant and powerful
                             than ever, precisely because they do not specify
                             how an individual should be trained. Their flexibility
                             and strength stem from this widely misunderstood
                             characteristic. As they do not stipulate how to
                             teach or how to learn they can be used in diverse
                             educational and occupational settings and lend
                             themselves to innovative and tailored training
                             methods. As standards, they also provide a
                             national benchmark that employers can use to
                             align business strategy, skills development and the
                             attainment of nationally recognised qualifications,
                             and allow for mutual recognition of qualifications
                             and workforce mobility across geographical areas.

                                                     National Industry Skills Standards
                                               Taking Training Packages beyond training
Driving investment in training                           Measuring impact
Australia’s high level of industry engagement            Training is not an end in and of itself. Equally, counts of
with VET is largely attributable to the introduction     qualifications and enrolments are just one indicator of
of national industry skills standards developed          the success of the VET system. The effectiveness and
for industry, by industry, and the leadership and        relevance of Training Packages and competency-based
proactive approach of Industry Skills Councils. A        training (CBT) must be judged by outcomes in human
renewed focus on engaging industry in the system,        capital, skill utilisation in the economy, social inclusion,
backed by targeted co-investment models for funding      and national, local and personal achievements.
training such as the Enterprise Based Productivity
                                                         By all the quantitative measures available to us, the
Places Program (EBPPP) and the National Workforce
                                                         national system of competency-based qualifications
Development Fund (NWDF), can help short-circuit the
                                                         is achieving positive outcomes for industry, students,
backwards productivity trend being witnessed in the
                                                         and the broader economic and social goals of
Australian economy.
                                                         government in Australia. Students report very high
                                                         levels of satisfaction with the overall quality of their
A world-class VET system                                 training and Australian VET is held up internationally
The world continues to look to Australia as a            as a world-class example. Perhaps the greatest
successful, mature, integrated model for VET and         achievement of the last fifteen years is the greatly
many countries are implementing similar national         improved level of industry confidence, engagement
standards-based systems. The international trend is      and satisfaction with the VET system (Figure 1).
increasingly for a national, sector-specific standards   89% of employers using the national system are
approach to Vocational Education and Training and        satisfied with it, and 84% report that vocational
Australia is providing expertise to help develop of      qualifications provide employees with the skills
many of these new frameworks.                            they require for the job.2

                                                                                  National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                            Taking Training Packages beyond training
Figure 1 – Satisfaction with VET, 1997-2011, Employers and TAFE Graduates

                       100                                       2011                     2011
                                                                 95%                      95%
                                          2011                                                                 2011
                                          89%                                                                  90%

                                 1997                                          1997
                        80       78%                                           77%


                        60                              58%



                                 All employers            Hospitality                 Retail               TAFE
                                                           industry                  industry           graduates

Source: NCVER Survey of Employer Use & Views 3,4, NCVER Student Outcomes Survey5,6

Sometimes competency-based training and Training
Packages take the blame for wider systemic
problems such as inflexibility or quality of training
delivery. Of the small number of employers
dissatisfied with the training system (only 8 per
cent in 2011) over 40 per cent cited poor quality
or low standard of training delivery as the reason.7
By comparison, prior to the introduction of Training
Packages employers were more concerned about
the content of courses being relevant, and the
personal characteristics of graduates.8

                                                                                                       National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                                                 Taking Training Packages beyond training
Lessons from the past – fairness,                             Figure 2 – Article in Australian TAFE Teacher, 1994
efficiency, investment
Prior to the introduction of a national system of
industry skills standards the picture of Australian
VET was one of fragmentation, duplication and
inefficiency. Initiated by then Education Minister
John Dawkins, between the late 1980s and late
1990s Australia completely reformed its VET
system. The elements of reform crossed party lines
and transcended the politics of federation. There
was consensus that there was an urgent need for
a national VET system, based on competency not
“time served”, which truly engaged industry in the
training system.

 Then                                                         Now

 Confusing duplication of qualifications across states and    A national framework of qualifications. National, and
 territories and industry sectors.9 Cumbersome and rigid      increasingly, international recognition of qualifications.
 external course accreditation arrangements.10 Limited
 national recognition of skills or occupational portability
 of qualifications.11

 Many occupations (including retail, tourism. agriculture,    Qualifications that embrace all industry sectors
 telecommunications and information technology)               and 85 per cent of the Australian workforce.13
 without ‘nationally recognised training arrangements
 or qualifications’.12

 Low industry engagement with the system.14                   High levels of employer engagement and satisfaction.15
                                                              Successful co-investment models of funding.16

 A supply-driven system with VET provision ‘largely           A national system with standards set by industry
 being determined by what training programs providers         and linked to tangible occupational outcomes.
 wished to run’.17

 Individuals seeking a qualification were not                 Increased levels of recognition of prior learning
 recognised for skills that they had gained outside           and more on-the-job training.19
 of a classroom context.18

 Disconnection between licensing regimes and                  Harmonisation of licensing with qualifications
 qualifications resulting in duplication of effort            in key occupational areas.
 and resources.

 Varying standards for workers in similar circumstances,      A fairer industrial system with nationally consistent
 based on geography or industry sector.20                     skills and qualifications.21

                                                                                       National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                                 Taking Training Packages beyond training
Moving the debate forward                                   Figure 3 – A shared responsibility

Discussion of what competency based training can
and cannot do often deviates from pedagogical
debate into semantics. There is a real risk that

amidst a war of words the more important objectives


are lost. If there can be an acceptance that capability


                                                                       National Skills                 Training and
                                                                       Standards                       assessment

and competence are both necessary and achievable,                      ISCs                                 Trainers
                                                                       Industry                          Assessors
the question ceases to be “can it be done?” and                        Enterprises        Students              TAFE
                                                                       Unions                                 ERTOs
becomes a much more useful assessment of “how                                                &               Private
                                                                                         Employers         Colleges
is it being done?”, “how well is it being done?” and
“how can we support practitioners to do it better?”
                                                                                   Oversight, strategy,
                                                                                     quality, funding
There is a policy and funding vacuum when it                                          Governments
                                                                                  Occupational regulators
comes to the systemic, professional development                                           NSSC
of trainers and assessors in Australia. ASQA will
not be taking a role in this area, describing is role                                    R e g ulate
as purely regulatory.22 Nor are states and territories
taking the lead, and most training providers operate        Looking to the future
on minimal budgets which restrict their ability to fully    It’s time to establish the principles that will frame
invest in the professional development of their staff.      the next decade of VET in Australia. The following
A national, strategic commitment to developing the          elements will enable Training Packages to deliver on
skills of trainers and assessors and improving the          their full potential and are critical to ensure Australia
quality of training delivery will have greater social and   has the skills required to meet the economic and
economic impact than any other area of VET reform.          social challenges of the next decade.
The national industry skills standards in Training          • An industry-led, provider-responsive training
Packages lay the foundation for quality outcomes, but         system with students and industry at its heart.
training and assessment, and quality assurance and          • A national training system based on skills
regulation play equally vital roles. The success of the       standards developed and validated by industry.
system is wholly dependent upon the effectiveness of        • Evidence-based VET policy based on accurate data
each element (Figure 2).                                      and evaluation of broader economic and social
                                                              impacts of national industry skills standards and their
                                                              role in lifting productivity and workforce development.
                                                            • Full data collection and reporting by all Registered
                                                              Training Organisations regardless of funding
                                                              source, scope or jurisdiction.
                                                            • A unique student identifier to enable better
                                                              tracking and recording of learners’ achievements.
                                                            • Flexible and nationally consistent funding and
                                                              regulatory models that support innovative training
                                                              and assessment practices that meet the needs of
                                                              industry and students.
                                                            • Collaborative frameworks that enable industry,
                                                              educators and governments to work together to
                                                              improve the quality of training provision.

                                                                                          National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                                    Taking Training Packages beyond training
1. Standards for skills

A Training Package is a      Training Packages specify the skills and knowledge
                             required to perform effectively in the workplace.
tool designed to close       They do not prescribe how an individual should be
                             trained. Trainers and supervisors develop learning
the loop between industry    strategies in accordance with individual learners’
                             needs, abilities and circumstances.
skill demands and the
                             This capacity to tailor the learning process
outcomes of training.        recognises that no two people learn the same way;

Training Packages were       it enables the National Training System to respond
                             to the needs of individuals from diverse educational,
never intended to be a       ethnic, social and geographic backgrounds. National
                             industry skills standards are more relevant and
complete training resource   powerful than ever, precisely because of this

or curriculum substitute     characteristic.

                             Inflexibility of training delivery is more often the
– they are part of an        effect of the systems that underpin Training

industry-driven system       Packages, not a feature of the products themselves.
                             In the hands of a quality trainer, supported by
where curriculum is a        flexible funding and regulatory models, skills
                             standards are a sophisticated tool that can be
teacher’s tool and not       tailored to reflect an individual learner’s needs,

the driving force of         abilities and circumstances.

                             The great advantage of skills standards is that they
vocational training.23       have much further application than just training
                             (Figure 4).
                             • They describe cutting-edge industry practice
                               and allow enterprises, regardless of geographic
                               location or business size, to benchmark against
                               national and international industry best practice.
                             • They are integrated into enterprise workforce
                               development strategies and provide a structured
                               framework for job design, recruitment, work
                               organisation, initial training, up-skilling, job
                               pathways, performance management and
                             • They provide a framework for lifelong learning and
                               career progression, pathways to further education,
                               national and international recognition of skills,
                               portability of qualifications, and benchmarks for
                               recognising informal learning and experience.
                             • Perhaps most significantly, they can be leveraged
                               by governments to target particular pressure-
                               points or skill needs in the economy and to drive
                               economic or social reform.

                                                    National Industry Skills Standards
                                              Taking Training Packages beyond training
Figure 4 – Applications of National
            Industry Skills Standards                               Skills For Energy Efficiency
                                                                    The electrocomms and energy utilities industries
                             Industrial                             are among the most rapidly evolving and
                                                                    technologically advanced in Australia. They are
              Licensing                   migration                 also leading Australia’s move to a low carbon
                                                                    economy as energy efficiency becomes ‘the
                                                                    accepted paradigm underpinning the design
  Labour                                               Workforce    and construction and management of the built
  mobility                                            development
                             National                               and industrial environments’.24
                               skills                               Energy Sector employers in electricity generation,
                            standards                               transmission and distribution; electrotechnology
    risk                                              Workforce
                                                      planning      and refrigeration and air-conditioning, and
   ment                                                             gas transmission and distribution, are key
                                                                    disseminators of strategies and technologies
                Career                                              for energy efficiency. EE-Oz, the Industry Skills
                                                                    Council for the electrocomms and energy utilities
                              reform                                industries, works in partnership with the industries
                                                                    to continually revise and develop new standards to
                                                                    meet the requirements of emerging technologies,
                                                                    work practices and industry/regulatory standards.
1.1. Innovative and future-focused                                  Examples include the development of more
                                                                    specialised qualifications in Renewable Energy,
Training Packages reflect where industry sees itself                Photovoltaic Systems, Energy Management,
going. As well as defining immediate priorities and                 Automation, Instrumentation and Industrial
workforce practices, they drive innovation by reflecting            control. This continuous process occurs before
strategic and emerging skill needs. Because they are                changes are taken-up on a broad scale so that
future-focused and continuously reviewed Training                   the economic and energy efficiency benefits of
Packages keep pace with technological changes and                   these technologies can be realised as rapidly as
cutting-edge industry practices. By having a national,              possible.25

outward-looking focus they exemplify national and                   EE-Oz is continually seeking to develop new
international best practice.                                        Training Package components to meet the
                                                                    requirements new technologies, work practices
Training Packages are constantly revised and
                                                                    and industry/regulatory standards before these
improved based on grass-roots industry intelligence                 are taken-up on a broad scale so that the …
and continual scanning of the industry landscape                    benefits of these technologies can be realised
to identify emerging trends. This allows Training                   as rapidly as possible. – EE-Oz, 201226
Packages to have immediacy, relevance and
responsiveness to the skill needs of the nation.

                                                                                         National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                                   Taking Training Packages beyond training
1.2. Driving reform                                          Green Skills

National industry skills standards play a critical role in   In late 2009 COAG endorsed the National Green
government policy action. They provide governments           Skills Agreement which seeks to build the capacity
with a mechanism to make nation-wide changes                 of the VET sector to assist the nation’s adjustment
quickly and effectively, and to strategically target         to sustainable, low-carbon economy. Central to
sections of the economy. The standards allow policy          the agreement was the strategic review of Training
and research agencies to analyse and benchmark               Packages to embed sustainability knowledge, skills
across the economy, and enable fast, focused policy          and principles.31 Today, skills for sustainability are
responses to build the required skills and knowledge         an integral part of the majority of training programs
in the workforce. The following reforms would have           across the country. By leveraging the national
been much less successful without a consistent,              framework of skills standards in just twelve short
national system of qualifications and skills standards.      months the federal government affected significant
                                                             reform to the content of training courses and
Occupational Health and Safety                               consequently Australian workplace practices across
The incorporation of Occupational Health and Safety          all industry sectors and geographic regions.
(OHS) into the national standards is an early example        National Licensing
of how governments were able to leverage the national
standards to implement urgent reforms. In 1998 Safe          Many licenses in Australia, including for plumbers,
Work Australia (then Work Safe) released new national        electricians, security and real estate agents, aircraft
guidelines for integrating OHS competencies into skills      maintenance engineers are linked directly to the
standards in order to prevent workplace death, injury        national standards in Training Packages. Where
and disease, and to improve workers’ compensation            the VET system and regulatory systems are not
arrangements.27 In 2002 a new National OHS Strategy          aligned there are significant costs to governments,
identified the need for ‘OHS competencies to be more         individuals and to enterprises. National industry
widely integrated into vocational training.’28               skills standards underpin the new national
                                                             licensing system by providing ‘a consistent skill
Australia needs to invest in skills development to           base for licensed occupations [and] the basis for
ensure an ongoing capacity to meet current and               skills-related eligibility requirements for licensed
emerging OHS issues. Skills need to be developed             occupations.’32 The continuous improvement of
in the workplace and among all practitioners,                Training Packages has allowed the specific needs
inspectors, researchers, technical personnel                 of states and territories to be taken into account in
and professions that may impact directly or                  the new national licenses, and have informed the
indirectly on workplace health and safety.                   increased harmonisation of state-based legislative
– Safe Work Australia, 200229                                and regulatory arrangements. The Commonwealth
Through the national standards, OHS training was             government is developing a national licensing system
incorporated across all industries and occupations.          under the Occupational Licensing National Law Act
Workplace practices were influenced as a result, and         2010 in order to overcome some of these barriers.
this contributed to a 25% decrease in the incidence of       The National Licensing System will] boost productivity
injury and musculoskeletal claims between the base           and labour mobility, which is essential at a time
period (2001-2003) and 2010, and a 42% decrease              when there is massive jobs growth in the north and
in the fatality rate due to injuries and musculoskeletal     west of the country – Senator Chris Evans, 201233
disorders decreased over the same period. 30

                                                                                    National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                              Taking Training Packages beyond training
Foundation skills                                        1.3. Building capability in a
Foundation Skills and LLN have always been an
                                                               competency-based system
integral aspect of workplace performance, and            In this age of intense global competition, industry
accordingly, the Industry Skills Standards in Training   needs free-thinking, innovative workers with both
Packages. Industry Skills Councils have taken a          technical skills and broader capabilities. Likewise,
proactive role in identifying the foundation skills      individuals benefit from a broad conception
needs of their industries and reflecting them in the     of competency that encompasses innovation,
standards. EE-Oz, for example For example, has           foundation skills and LLN, as well as technical skills.
made the Australian Core Skills Framework
an integral part of their Training Package design.       A criticism sometimes levelled at Training Packages
                                                         suggests they only focus on technical skills,
In 2009 COAG decided to further leverage the             which is untrue. Units of Competency have always
skills standards to ensure significant gaps in           included broader capabilities, knowledge, LLN and
adult language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) in the       employability skills as a fundamental element of
Australian workforce were addressed. All revised skill   the criteria for performance. These capabilities may
standards will have a section dedicated to describing    be developed in the context of a particular job role,
the foundation skills required for performance. COAG     but are also “skills for life” that are transferrable to
also allowed, for the first time, for standards within   other educational, occupational and social contexts.
the national framework to have a foundation skills
focus and not a specific occupational outcome.34         It is a mistake to view skills standards as static
This renewed focus on foundation skills in the           objects, outside of their context within a broader
national standards has enormous potential to             skill set, job role or training program. Individuals do
improve employment, educational and personal             not operate in a vacuum, but within an occupational
outcomes for individuals, and for businesses,            context and a professional community. Likewise,
through enhanced workforce productivity.35               units of competency are rarely taught in isolation,
                                                         but within an occupational and an educational
Animal welfare                                           context. It is in this context that broader capabilities
                                                         and skills for innovation are best developed.
In May 2012 the NSW Government announced
                                                         Technical skills gained through initial training are
tough new measures to lift animal welfare standards
                                                         just part of a professional and educational process.
in domestic abattoirs, leveraging the existing
                                                         As AWPA notes, ‘the skills required for innovation
competencies in the Australian Meat Industry Training
                                                         tend to be learnt on the job, but formal training is
Package. As a condition of an abattoir’s license all
                                                         the foundation on which this learning is built.’37
relevant employees must now possess key animal
welfare competencies from the Training Package.36        It is important to recognise the critical role VET
                                                         professionals play in providing a meaningful context
                                                         for training to occur. The advantage of national
                                                         industry skills standards is they do not specify how
                                                         to train – this is left to the professional judgement,
                                                         creativity and innovation of the trainer. If there are
                                                         specific needs that an educator recognises in a
                                                         student, or that are required by an enterprise,

                                                                                 National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                           Taking Training Packages beyond training
trainers can tailor and extend the educational               1.4. Flexible workforce solutions
experience to provide that broader context. By not
specifying curriculum, or the learning pathway, Training     Productivity though industry engagement
Packages provide the greatest possible scope and
                                                             Productivity is the prime determinant in the
flexibility for VET professionals to be able to tailor and
                                                             long run of a nation’s standard of living, for it
target their pedagogy to best suit the learners.
                                                             is the root cause of per capita national income
Critically, funding models and auditing practices            – in AWPA, 2012 39
must not restrict practitioners’ abilities to extend the
                                                             There is no question that increased investment
learning experience and build capability in innovative
                                                             in skills development will boost productivity
ways. A trainer who is only funded for a fraction of the
                                                             and economic growth. Productivity Commission
time necessary to holistically achieve the required
                                                             modelling indicates that achieving COAG’s 2020
outcome will be forced to cut corners. Unfortunately
                                                             participation targets for VET alone will raise labour
in practice this often means reducing or eliminating
                                                             productivity by 0.35%, employment by 1.04% and
the implicit knowledge components and broader
                                                             GDP by 1.95%.40
capabilities, and resorting to assessing competency
in a mechanistic fashion.                                    One proven strategy to increase investment in
                                                             training is simple: ensure employers are fully engaged
Moving the debate forward                                    in the training system. This increases private
Discussions of what competency based training can            investment in skills development which improves
and cannot do often deviate from pedagogical debate          the utilisation of skills in the workforce. This flows
into semantics. There is a real risk that amidst a           through the economy in the form of productivity
war of words the more important objectives are lost.         gains, economic growth and the social benefits
If there can be an acceptance that capability and            that come from an increased standard of living.
competence are both achievable, the question ceases
                                                             Australia’s high level of industry engagement
to be “can it be done?” and becomes a much more
                                                             with VET is largely attributable to the introduction
useful assessment of “how is it being done?”, “how
                                                             in the late 1990’s of national skills standards
well is it being done?” and “how can we support
                                                             developed for industry, by industry. A renewed focus
practitioners to do it better?”
                                                             on engaging industry in the system, backed by
There is a policy and funding vacuum when it comes           targeted funding models, can help short-circuit
to the systemic, professional development of trainers        the backwards productivity trend (Figure 5).
and assessors in Australia. ASQA will not be taking
a role in this area, describing is role as purely
regulatory.38 Nor are states and territories taking the
lead, while most training providers are operating on
minimal budgets which restrict their ability to fully
invest in the professional development of their staff.
A national, strategic commitment to developing the
skills of trainers and assessors and improving the
quality of training delivery will have greater social and
economic impact than any other area of VET reform.

                                                                                    National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                              Taking Training Packages beyond training
Figure 5 – Prosperity through industry engagement

   Industry              Investment           Skill               Productivity         Economic            Increased standard
   engagement            in training          utilisation         gains                growth              of living

   Using industry skills standards to invest in manufacturing
   workers of tomorrow
   “Our company is growing and expanding its service offer. Recently we
   employed another 10 welders after winning a contract for the mining
   industry – this is an example of how the training has allowed us to be
   more competitive, especially with countries like China” – Allan Turner,
   General Manager, WH Williams

   WH Williams is a third-generation family-owned business that produces custom-made metal products and
   believes in investing in its people – many of whom have been on its books for years.

   Employees at the company, located in Silverwater, NSW, have now gained Certificate III and Certificate IV
   national qualifications in Competitive Systems and Practices through Manufacturing Skills Australia’s (MSA)
   most successful cross-industry training qualifications. These were formerly titled Competitive Manufacturing.
   MSA supported WH Williams, one of Australia’s leading manufacturers of custom-made metal products, to apply
   for support from the Australian Government’s National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF). The NDWF has
   enabled WH Williams to increase productivity and competitiveness by improving the skills of its workforce.

   Its commitment in undertaking this training has given WH Williams a competitive edge in providing end-to-end
   service for customers. Lean manufacturing systems and work practices will reduce lead times and on-time
   delivery of competitively priced, quality products to the customer. By developing and engaging their workforce
   in lean principles WH Williams is able to equip employees with knowledge and qualifications and take ownership
   of continuous improvement within the business.

   WH Williams is completely committed to developing its employees, not only to meet the current and future needs
   of the business but to support their own personal development.

                                                                                       National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                                 Taking Training Packages beyond training
Skills utilisation through workforce mobility            Figure 6 – An integrated approach
                                                         to workforce development
A key policy lesson from the OECD on putting skills
to effective use is to create a better match between                              Evaluation
                                                                                   & skills
people’s skills and the requirements of their job. One                             analysis
strategy to do this is to facilitate internal mobility
among local labour markets.
                                                             Retention &                                   Workforce
                                                             succession                                    planning
Reducing costs and other barriers associated with             strategies

internal mobility helps employees to find suitable
jobs and helps employers to find suitable workers                                industry                                          y
                                                                stment                                                      ivit
                                                            Inve                                              P ro d u ct
– (OECD, 2012). 41                                                                 skills
Australia’s national system of standards allows
for mutual recognition of qualifications and better         Performance                                     Training
workforce mobility across geographical areas.
It allows employers to compare the skills of
their workforce and potential workforce across
geographical boundaries, and to target recruitment
activities towards skill needs.

Integrated workforce development                         Due largely to the leadership and proactive
                                                         approach of Industry Skills Councils, the national
Workforce development contributes to productivity        industry skills standards ‘are now enshrined in
gains by better matching demand for skilled people       industry’s broader workforce development strategy
with supply across industry sectors so that growth       in virtually all sectors and occupations.’44 This
is not constrained. – AWPA, 201242                       is further bolstered by innovative co-investment
                                                         models for funding training such as the Enterprise
A proven method to encourage investment in skills
                                                         Based Productivity Places Program (EBPPP) and
development by industry is to assist employers
                                                         the National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF)
to embed skills development within their broader
                                                         which have proven a successful incentive for
business strategies. Industry skills standards
                                                         employers to integrate skills development into
provided national benchmarks employers can use
                                                         their business strategies.
to align business strategy, skills development
and the attainment of nationally recognised              An independent analysis of the impact of EBPPP
qualifications.43 They are a tool to analyse skill       found that Government investment leveraged a 2:1
needs, identify existing and future skill gaps,          return. In June 2011, contributions by enterprises
develop recruitment strategies, train existing staff,    totalled $18.9m while Government contributions
manage staff performance, and create succession          totalled $36.9m. Indirect costs such as backfill,
and retention strategies. Individuals benefit from       administration and travel were also contributed
the career opportunities, increases in remuneration      by the enterprise. NWDF has adopted many of the
and increased job satisfaction that education can        critical success factors from EBPPP and arguably
provide (Figure 6).                                      provides the first national program which enables
                                                         Training Packages to be holistically as a tool which
                                                         underpins an integrated approach to workforce
                                                         development. Notably both programs have been
                                                         well supported by employers that had not previously
                                                         engaged with the formal VET system. 45

                                                                                 National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                           Taking Training Packages beyond training
Innovative and future-focused
Using National Industry Skills Standards
to deliver total engineering solutions                   Training Packages reflect where industry sees itself
                                                         heading. As well as defining immediate priorities and
                                                         workforce practices, they drive innovation by reflecting
                                                         strategic and emerging skill needs. Because they are
                                                         future-focused and continuously reviewed Training
                                                         Packages keep pace with technological changes and
                                                         cutting-edge industry practices.
Custom Fluidpower is one of the largest hydraulics,
pneumatics and electronic solutions providers in
Australia today. Custom Fluidpower are not only
known for being manufacturers, distributors and
their broad range of services – fluid power and
hydraulic products – but also an innovator in using
hydraulics, pneumatics and electronics technology.
Custom Fluidpower is a proud customer focused
company and their emphasis it not just about
components and parts; it’s about delivering total
engineering solutions!

The successful undertaking of Manufacturing
Skills Australia’s (MSA) national metal and
engineering qualifications, in particular Certificate
IV in Engineering (fluid power), and together with
assistance of the National Workforce Development
Fund (NDWF) has added to the success story for
Custom Fluidpower’s fitters, turners and engineers
workforce. With both nationally endorsed
qualifications and funding for training, plus the use
of state-of-the-art simulation equipment, means
that Custom Fluidpower’s workforce has advanced
their workforce’s skills in fluid power/hydraulics
technology. The expert knowledge of Custom
Fluidpower’s staff will now be the key to achieving
a competitive advance in the market place.

The aim of this project was to facilitate the training
of advanced trade skills (post trade qualifications)
for staff now and into the future to enhance
skills, improve productive output and maintain
corporate competitive advantage, both nationally
and internationally. A vital issue in the use of fluid
power is the knowledge of safety and the specific
first aid required for fluid power injection accident.

                                                                                 National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                           Taking Training Packages beyond training
Using National Industry Skills Standards to
innovate and address changing business needs
“When the going gets tough, business gets smarter”
– Ward Tilbrook, CEO, SATIC

The Business: South Australian Tourism Industry Council
The South Australia Tourism Industry Council (SATIC) is a member-based
not-for-profit organisation. It is 600 members strong, the majority of which
are small business operators. SATIC has been operating for three years
building capability for the South Australian tourism industry.

The Need: Social media skills for tourism operators in a changing market
The development of the tourism industry in South Australia has, until recently, grown in response to demand.
The current climate of fewer visitors has meant businesses have had to start thinking about how they can
maintain, build and grow their business. In 2011 SATIC polled their members and identified that training in
on-line commerce, social media, management skills, customer service and visual merchandising was critical
to them in the changing the environment of the South Australian travel industry.

The Action: Training in social media and management to improve business outcomes
With the help of Service Skills Australia and the National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF) SATIC launched
a Front Line Management program based on the national industry skills standards in Business Services Training
Package. With 22 small businesses participating, it was essential that the program be relevant and in line with
small business needs in the changing online market. The course covered:
• Business Planning
• Operational Planning
• Online commerce and Social Media
• Enhanced Customer Service Strategies

The Goal: A program designed to meet the specific needs of business
Ward Tillbrook, CEO says SATIC wants to develop a training program for small and micro tourism operators to
build their businesses not just their resume. They want to create a program that participants rave about due
to the value of the content and how participation helped them improve their bottom line. SATIC want to build
a network of businesses that value the investment in the training they provide to spread the word that training
is valuable to a business and is worth doing.

Key Lessons from the Field
• It’s important to identify actual training needs by asking businesses what they need.
• An e-engagement strategy is an important component of training in the changing tourism industry.
• Businesses can identify value in training when it’s relevant to their specific needs.
• The national industry skills standards in the Business Services Training Package provided a framework
   for a training program incorporating cutting-edge industry needs.

“Targeted training and education that meets specific business needs always works well” – Jeanette Allen, CEO,
Service Skills Australia.

                                                                                        National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                                  Taking Training Packages beyond training
A framework for risk management                                 gaps and develop skills to address key areas of risk.
National industry skills standards also provide a               They standards also represent a national benchmark
valuable tool to facilitate every step of enterprise            which employers can use to assess their workplace
risk management approaches. They are a                          practices against the rest of the industry, to better
benchmark to assess the skills of staff, identify               understand and implement best practice.

   Using national industry skills standards to manage risk
   and improve business outcomes
   “We want our local businesses to collaborate to improve business outcomes
   in the region.” – Russell Mills, CEO, Northern Rivers Tourism, NSW

   The Company: Northern Rivers Tourism
   Northern Rivers Tourism (NRT) is the regional tourism authority and peak body for the tourism sector in the
   Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Australia. Its remit is to develop and promote tourism and provide
   strategic direction for the region’s tourism industry. NRT’s mission is to develop and promote authentic and
   diverse tourism experiences for a sustainable future for the region. NRT’s aim is to provide a strategic focus
   for the region to increase tourism visitation and yield, facilitate sustainable development and promotional
   opportunity for the tourism industry, be a conduit for regional marketing intelligence and be an effective advocate
   for the interests of the regional community in relation to tourism.

   The Need: effective business planning in the region
   NRT conducted a strategic analysis in 2011 and identified a regional need for training to increase the “supply
   chain collaboration” to address the following areas of risk in the local industry:
   • Low levels of professionalism
   • Lack of cohesion and communication among stakeholders
   • Lack of strategic alliances
   • Varying levels of maturity among operators
   • Inconsistent customer service standards
   • Incidence of transient operators/unapproved/unregulated operators and activities

   The Action: skills to manage risks and improve business outcomes
   Working with Service Skills Australia and through funding from the National Workforce Development Fund
   (NWDF), Northern Rivers Tourism helped local businesses work together to improve business outcomes. The
   focus was on up-skilling business owners, marketing, networking and mentoring to increase business. NRT’s
   approach involved:
   • Supply chain analysis
   • Collaboration with other businesses
   • Creating and maintaining regional customer loyalty
   • Using the regional footprint to maximise exposure-synergy across tourism (retail and operators), hospitality, and
     food production industry/growers.

   Key Lessons from the field
   • Collaboration improves business outcomes and profitability individually and between businesses
   • Investing in the training of business owners leads to better business outcomes
   • The national industry skills standards in Training Packages provided an effective framework for this to occur.

                                                                                         National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                                   Taking Training Packages beyond training
Skills for life                                          skills standards at various pivotal moments in
                                                         their careers. The national framework provides
Vocational education and training is not seen as         a continuum of skills development opportunities
a one-off exercise but as a process of life-time         across the whole of a person’s working life– from
learning, contributing to both personal and career       foundation skills and school-based programs, to
development.46                                           initial training and job placement, to professional
Discussions about competency-based training              development, re-training and up-skilling, recognition
sometimes have a narrow concept of what VET is           in the form of wage increases and promotion, and
and can be. People encounter the national industry       credit and articulation into higher learning (Figure 7).

Figure 7 – Skills standards for lifelong learning

   Career                                                                          Promotion &
   progression         VET in schools        First job       Career change         wage increases           Leadership

                        Foundation        Entry level     Transfer skills,         Professional           Advanced skills
   Skill level          skills            skills          re-skill, up-skill       developmen             & knowledge

                                                                                     National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                               Taking Training Packages beyond training
Using national industry skills standards to create
rewarding career paths
“At Accor we recognised that a generation of future leaders could be created
with the design of better career pathways.” – John Timson, The Accor Group
The Company: Accor Hotel Group
Accor is one of the leading hotel groups in the world, with over 4,000 hotels in more than 90 countries. In Australia, Accor
has 203 hotels in both city and regional locations making it one of the largest employers of tourism and hospitality staff in
the nation. Through its training facility Académie Accor it provides unique professional development opportunities for staff.
Académie Accor Australia is one of 17 Accor academies around the world and provides training to over 10,000 employees.
The Need: To fill a skill shortage in senior management roles
Over the past five years Accor had been struggling to find senior managers. Staff were not progressing from
the middle management ranks through to senior management positions and as a result skill shortages in
senior management became a key challenge. Accor recognised the need to work with existing employees to
up-skill and identify future leaders within the company by generating better career pathways.
The Action: The EDGE – Educate, Develop, Generate, Explore
The EDGE is a 10-month intensive leadership development program, focusing on practical management and
critical skill development that encourages self-analysis and growth. It is based on the National Industry Skills
Standards in the Diploma of Hospitality from the Hospitality Training Package and is used both as a development
tool and to recognise skills and current competencies of existing staff. It covers four main themes:
• Educate: The EDGE educates existing employees on the management skills required to move to senior
  management positions.
• Develop: The EDGE is designed to develop skills within the employee to assist them in identifying their next
  career move.
• Generate: Career pathways are generated for existing staff to progress through the Accor group and improve
  retention rates.
• Explore: Staff can explore the career opportunities available at Accor.
Participants are selected for the EDGE through a rigorous application process targeting the most successful and
motivated employees of Accor, often staff who have worked their way through the business into key roles with limited
or no formal qualifications.
The Goal: Create a new generation of leaders
The EDGE program is creating leaders to fill senior management positions at Accor through:
• The creation of more professional management practices across the hotel group.
• Improved design of career pathways.
• Increased retention rates.
• Increased engagement of teams.
Lessons from the Field:
• It’s important to invest in staff members to become future leaders.
• Leaders can be created by targeted investment in staff development.
• Provision of mentors to the next generation ensures employees gain valuable skills and knowledge from senior
  managers who have had formal training as well as years of practical experience.
• Retention rates can improve by generating career paths.
• The National Industry Skills Standards in Training Packages provide an underpinning framework for the program.

“Career pathways are important for the service industry and it’s wonderful to see an industry leader, Accor,
breaking ground in this arena.” – Jeanette Allen, CEO Service Skills Australia

                                                                                           National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                                     Taking Training Packages beyond training
1.5. Skills standards in a global economy                  • Service Skills Australia and the Construction
                                                                and Property Services Industry Skills Council are
The complex interplay of technological advances,                partnering with Indian counterparts on a range of
global demographic trends and macroeconomic                     VET initiatives including customising qualifications
forces has seen the emergence of global markets,                and competencies to meet the needs of the Indian
economies, supply chains and labour markets.                    industry, and setting up quality processes and
(Cameron and O’Hanlon-Rose, 2011)                               staff training in India.49
Inbound and outbound labour mobility
                                                                 The Trans-Tasman Mutual
Australian workers and businesses are increasingly
                                                                 Recognition Arrangement
operating in a global market. Consequently, the
demand for increased mobility of skills has never                The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition
been greater. This is international trend, but is likely         Arrangement (TTMRA) came into effect in 1998.
to become especially important for Australia as an               It seeks to remove barriers to the movement of
Asia-Pacific nation in this so-called “Asian Century”.           people across the Tasman and within Australia
                                                                 and create a trans-Tasman employment market
Australia has a great advantage in its proximity
                                                                 and shared skills pool. Individuals registered to
to economies that are increasingly developing
                                                                 practise an occupation in Australia are entitled
cross-border educational programs and globally-
                                                                 to practise an equivalent occupation in New
ready workforces.47
                                                                 Zealand, and vice versa, without the need to
A significant advantage of national industry skills              undergo further testing or examination. The
                                                                 arrangement covers all occupations with some
standards is it allows benchmarking and comparison
                                                                 form of legislation-based registration, certification,
with the qualifications and skill needs of other
                                                                 licensing, or other form of formal authorisation to
countries at a national, rather than institutional
                                                                 practice. Equivalence of competencies must be
level. This allows for much more efficient inbound               approved in legislation before they are awarded
and outbound mobility of students and workers.                   mutual recognition.50

The current national policy on internationalising                Assessments of equivalence are possible
VET qualifications requires ISCs to consider how                 because of Australia and New Zealand’s clear and
standards can be internationalised to develop                    transparent competency standards. All ISCs are
skills for a global workforce. It also encourages                involved in the benchmarking activities that inform
that the Australian standards be aligned where                   the mutual recognition agreements, including:
possible with international industry standards.48                • Service Skills Australia (Hairdressing and Beauty)
                                                                 • Innovation and Business Skills Australia (Printing)
Industry is well ahead of the game.
                                                                 • Government Skills Australia (Corrections)
• EE-Oz Training Standards, Australia’s Industry                 • Community Services and Health ISC (Dental)
  Skills Council for the electrocomms and energy                 • EE-Oz (Electricity Supply, Electrotechnology)
  utilities industries, continues its work on
                                                                 • SkillsDMC (Drilling, Metalliferous Mining)
  harmonising and recognition of equivalences
                                                                 • Manufacturing Skills Australia
  across national borders.
• Industry Skills Councils have undertaken extensive
  joint work with their New Zealand counterparts to
  examine the similarities and differences between
  our respective qualifications as part of the Trans-
  Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement.

                                                                                       National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                                 Taking Training Packages beyond training
Skilled migration                                         RTOs that provide a qualification that is recognised
                                                          internationally can offer their students a unique
Globalisation and migration are inextricably linked       value-add that sets them apart in the market.
and VET has an important role to play in Australia’s      Models for international industry recognition such
skilled migration policy which is currently occupied      as the International Professional Standards Network
with addressing skills shortages in some sectors.51       would not be possible without clear, national
Government agencies such as Trade Recognition             standards for skills that can be benchmarked and
Australia (TRA) provide skills assessment services        aligned with qualifications from other nations.
for Australian citizens wishing to have their skills
nationally recognised, and temporary, permanent
                                                             A model for global
and potential migrants seeking Visas to relocate
                                                             skills recognition
to Australia. Skills and qualifications of candidates
                                                             using National Industry
are assessed against the national standards,                 Skills Standards
recognition of prior learning is awarded where
appropriate, and additional training is offered to           The International professional
address any skill gaps.                                      Standards Network (IPSN) is an organisation
                                                             of standards- setting bodies recognised by
The advantage of a national system of skills                 government and industry from member countries
standards is it provides an integrated, fair and             including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and
consistent framework to support skilled migration            Hong Kong.
policy that encompasses all industry sectors.
                                                             A recent project of the IPSN involved each member
The immigration process needs to be simple,                  country mapping their hairdressing qualifications and
efficient and clear, to meet the needs of commerce           industry recognition processes against an agreed
                                                             benchmark and common framework. Australian
and industry, and to enable Australia to compete
                                                             hairdressers who meet the IPSN criteria are now
with alternative migration destinations globally for
                                                             industry recognised in other member countries.
skilled workers. – ACCI, 2012 52
                                                             “Our hairdressing students will now have even
International industry recognition                           greater opportunity to develop and take their skills
                                                             around the world with our hairdressing qualifications
Outbound mobility of skilled labour is often overlooked
                                                             mutually recognised in these countries.”
in discussions of skilled migration, but students
                                                             – Jane Trewin, Gordon Institute of TAFE
can benefit enormously from a qualification that is
recognised and respected internationally as it allows
them to take their skills into new job markets.

Employers also benefit from the ability to compare
the skills of their workforce and potential workforce
across geographical boundaries, and can use industry
recognition programs to attract workers to Australia.

The strategic opportunities and diplomatic goodwill
that is fostered between countries through programs
such as this are also very valuable to governments.

Co-operation on skills policies between source and
destination countries can increase benefits to both.
– OECD, 201253

                                                                                  National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                            Taking Training Packages beyond training
2. International Perspectives

2.1. We have a world-class VET system                    Competency-based qualifications or diplomas can
                                                         provide employers with a clearer sense of what a
Australia has a very well developed VET system           future employee can perform on the job and enable
which enjoys a high degree of confidence. In             individuals who have work experience to secure
particular, the engagement of employers is strong;       credentials that reflect the skills they may have
the national qualification system is well established    learned on the job. – OECD, 201260
and understood; the VET system is flexible and
allows for a fair amount of local autonomy and           The international trend is increasingly for a national,
innovation to adapt learning to local circumstances.     sector-specific standards approach to Vocational
– OECD, 201054                                           Education and Training.
                                                         • The Commonwealth and Industry Skills Councils
The world continues to look to Australia as a
                                                           are partnering with India to develop Indian sector
successful, mature, integrated model for VET
                                                           skills councils.61
and many countries are implementing similar
                                                         • Governments are looking to Australia as a source
national standards-based systems. Australia
                                                           of high quality VET training, notably India which
is providing expertise to help develop of many
                                                           Australia has committed to assist in their goal to
of these frameworks.
                                                           up-skilling 500 million people by the year 2022.62
Our VET system is recognised internationally [for its]   • UK’s Leitch Review of Skills noted Britain’s
strengths: its strong employer engagement, its well-       20,000+ qualifications as a continuing source of
established and understood national qualifications         widespread duplication and confusion, upholding
framework and its flexibility and openness to              Australia’s Industry Skills Councils as a preferred
innovation. – Hon Julia Gillard, 200955                    model for developing qualifications.63
The OECD makes a range of strategic and policy           • Spain has announced its move a competency-
recommendations for VET which are evident in the           based model of German-style apprenticeships
Australian model. In making recommendations to             to address its 52% youth unemployment rate.64
improve the transition from school to work, the          • The United States has increasingly adopted a
OECD gives Australia’s apprenticeship system as an         sectoral strategy approach to economic and
example of good practice.56 It also advocates for:         workforce development.65
• National systems of qualifications and VET             • Sector councils are active in helping to define
  assessment in order to improve quality and               ‘occupational standards in Canada and the
  coherence in VET provision. 57                           United Kingdom, identifying the skills, knowledge
• Clear certification of learning outcomes,                and understanding needed to undertake a
  transparent standards embedded in a                      particular task or job to a nationally recognised
  framework of national qualifications and                 level of competence.’66
  reliable assessment procedures.58
                                                         Clear certification of learning outcomes and
• Mechanisms to involve industry stakeholders in the     recognition of informal learning are also incentives
  development of VET programs, citing Australia’s        for training. Transparent standards, embedded
  Industry Skills Councils as one example.59             in a framework of national qualifications, should
                                                         be developed alongside reliable assessment
                                                         procedures. – OECD, 201267

                                                                                 National Industry Skills Standards
                                                                           Taking Training Packages beyond training
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