Industry Engagement Reforms

On this page:

What is industry engagement in the VET sector?

Industry, including employers, peak bodies and unions, interact with the vocational education and training (VET) sector in diverse and complex ways. These include:

  • hiring VET graduates
  • engaging and supporting structured training for apprentices and trainees
  • training their own employees
  • in some cases, working with Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to develop organisation-specific training, including tailored training to meet workforce development needs.

Why is industry engagement in the VET sector important?

The vocational education and training (VET) system is uniquely positioned to support Australians to access secure, well-paid jobs and to achieve their aspirations. Investing in VET will assist Australians to learn new skills, innovate and create new knowledge that will improve productivity, increase future economic growth and meet the skills needs of today and tomorrow.

Stronger industry leadership and engagement is critical to delivering a VET sector that can respond rapidly to changes in Australia’s economy, build a resilient workforce and provide confidence to employers that VET graduates have the right skills for the jobs they have on offer.

Why is reform needed?

Strengthening the role of industry and empowering them to drive reforms to Australia’s VET sector is key to ensuring employers and individuals can access the right skills at the right time.

Industry needs a strong, strategic voice in VET to drive collaboration across sectors, address strategic workforce challenges and to ensure qualifications are developed and updated faster to meet the evolving needs of industry.

Reinvigorating the VET sector at a time of global economic uncertainty, will also support individuals to re-train and re-skill to find and to stay in work, through courses that link with and build on their existing experience and training.

Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs) are being established to provide industry with a stronger, more strategic voice in ensuring Australia’s VET sector delivers stronger outcomes for learners and employers.

As a national network of industry-owned and industry-led organisations, JSCs will provide strategic leadership in addressing skills and workforce challenges, aligning effort across industries to improve system responsiveness, build stakeholder confidence and drive high-quality outcomes for the VET sector, learners and business.

JSCs will identify skills and workforce needs for their sectors, map career pathways across education sectors, develop contemporary VET training products, support collaboration between industry and training providers to improve training and assessment practice and act as a source of intelligence on issues affecting their industries.

JSCs will have a strong connection to Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA), drawing on JSA’s workforce analysis and projections to undertake planning for their industry sectors, creating a consistent understanding of the skills landscape and how skill gaps can be addressed.

The new JSCs will replace the current industry engagement arrangements which includes 67 Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) and six Skills Service Organisations (SSOs) and are expected to be operational from January 2023. IRCs and SSOs will retain responsibility for training packages and training product development until the end of 2022. The Australian Industry and Skills Committee will cease at the end of December 2022.

More information on the new Jobs and Skills Councils including the features and functions of the new industry engagement arrangements and the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders is available.

Jobs and Skills Councils Grant Opportunity

Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs) are being established through a two-stage grant opportunity.

Stage One of the grant opportunity opened on 3 December 2021 and closed on 31 March 2022.

The response to Stage One demonstrated a high level of interest from industry leaders to establish and operate.

The Stage One Grant Opportunity has been finalised and the outcomes have now been announced. The successful JSCs are as follows:

  • Agribusiness – a new entity, Skills Insight, will be established by Skills Impact
  • Arts, Personal Services, Retail, Tourism and Hospitality – a new entity, WorkforceEquipped, will be established by the Australian Retailers Association
  • Energy, Gas and Renewables – a new entity will be established by a consortium of employee and employer organisations including Master Electricians Australia, Electrical Trades Union, and National Electrical and Communications Association
  • Finance, Technology and Business – a new entity will be established by the Digital Skills Organisation
  • Manufacturing – a new entity, Manufacturing Industry Skills Alliance, will be established by Innovation and Business Skills Australia
  • Mining and Automotive – a new entity will be established by the Australian Minerals and Energy Skills Alliance
  • Transport and Logistics – a new entity, Industry Skills Australia has been established by Australian Industry Standards.
  • Public Safety and Government – a new entity will be established by the Public Safety Industry Committee
  • Early Educators, Health and Human Services – a new entity, HumanAbility, will be established by a consortium of employee and employer organisations, led by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association
  • Building, Construction and Property – a new entity will be established by a consortium of employer and employee organisations from the building, construction and property sectors.

Further details will also be made available on the DEWR website as arrangements are finalised. As grant agreements are awarded they are published on GrantConnect, under DEWR 22/23 2.1 Building Skills and Capability.

A factsheet with more detailed information on each JSCs sector and training package coverage is available.

Register your interest to engage with the JSCs

If you are interested in engaging with the JSCs once they have been established, you can register your details.

Next steps for the JSCs

The Stage One grantees will now commence their establishment phase to set up their entities ahead of progressing to Stage Two of the Grant Opportunity.

Stage Two of the Grant Opportunity will commence soon and will invite newly established JSCs to provide an operational and delivery strategy detailing how they will carry out the full range of functions.

Successful Stage Two applicants will then be invited to negotiate a second grant agreement that provides operational and activity funding.

You can view a timeline for implementation.

JSCs - Governance arrangements

The Australian Government has committed to establishing JSCs and strengthening tripartite leadership in the VET system, bringing all parties to the table to find solutions to skills and workforce challenges.

In line with this commitment, the department has set out a clear expectation that JSCs will be tripartite. This will be demonstrated by employer organisations and unions aligning on JSCs governance (board composition, membership structures), and operational arrangements (strategic taskforces and technical sub-committees).

Participation by employer organisations and Unions is intended to be fair and equitable.

If you have any questions about the JSCs, an FAQ document has been developed.

Setting clear expectations for performance

Australian Commonwealth, state and territory governments will agree to new performance arrangements, with skills and training ministers setting standards and frameworks to drive quality outcomes.

New mechanisms will be established, including through an annual health check, to evaluate impact and drive continuous improvement to ensure the sector is responding to the needs of industry.

Quality assurance for training products that meet employer and learner needs

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations will establish the independent Training Product Assurance function from 1 January 2023 to ensure training packages meet the requirements of national standards and policies, including the Training Package Organising Framework. The function will deliver increased transparency, accountability, and confidence in training products for employers, learners and training providers.

In undertaking the assurance function, the department will review training products submitted by the JSCs to ensure they align with standards set by Skills Ministers, including that Australia’s skills needs are being met through genuine and balanced engagement with stakeholders. Only training products that meet these thresholds will be recommended to Skills Ministers for endorsement.

The department will take on this function for a limited time, allowing time for JSCs and Jobs and Skills Australia to become established before a decision is made on where to house the function long-term.

For more information, see the factsheet on the training product assurance function.

Ensuring the new industry engagement arrangements deliver for employers and learners

Skills Ministers have agreed to undertake a review of the new industry engagement arrangements one year after commencement to assess whether the system is working as intended, and to make improvements where needed.