Understanding the proposed Qualification Model

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Current VET system: key challenges facing users

The current VET system has become cluttered and difficult to navigate over the years, with over 1,100 qualifications, 1,600 skill sets, and 15,000 Units of Competency. Highly prescriptive content stifles innovation and flexibility in training delivery and hinders the recognition of transferable skills and learner mobility. For example, many VET qualifications are designed to lead to a single occupational outcome. Combined with poor recognition of transferable skills, a learner who is upskilling or reskilling will likely undertake some training that delivers similar skills to those they already have.

Units of Competency are the current training products used to build qualifications and skill sets. They describe the skills needed to complete a job task in a specific industry context and how trainers should assess a learner’s competence. Units of Competency have become increasingly detailed and prescriptive which limits their use across industry sectors, even for tasks that are essentially the same. In addition, the task level focus of many Units of Competency may not reflect how workplaces operate. Training in a series of separate tasks does not adequately equip learners to undertake a role in the workplace.

The diagram below shows the issues with the current system identified in consultation with stakeholders.

The diagram shows the issues with the current system identified in consultation with stakeholders

A proposed qualifications model

Design principles

Stakeholders have indicated that they want a system of VET qualifications and skill sets that is clear and relevant, accessible, flexible and transferable.

Training product development process

The development of high-quality training products starts with a comprehensive understanding of the needs of the workforce.

Jobs and Skills Councils will work with Jobs and Skills Australia to align workforce planning activities for their industry sectors, creating a uniform understanding of the skills landscape and developing appropriate strategies to address workforce challenges and skill gaps, which may include developing VET training products.

One of the components of workforce planning includes describing, in simple language that users of the system can understand, all the job functions and necessary skills and knowledge required to do each job – these will be called Job Profiles. Job Profiles will be mapped to career and education pathways. Job Profiles will be used to help identify and prioritise what VET training products are needed to meet skill needs. For more information, please visit the Industry Engagement Reforms webpage.

In the proposed model, which is being tested through consultation ahead of further consideration by Skills Ministers, Units of Competency could be replaced as the building block of the system by Skill Standards with associated Training and Assessment Requirements. The separation into two new training products acknowledges the different uses and users of these training products and ensures they are fit for purpose. Industry continues to drive identification of job roles and the specification of required skills and knowledge. Industry and educators together develop training products to guide quality delivery and assessment.

The training product development process is described in the diagram below.

The training product development process is described in the diagram

New training products

The proposed model has three new training products. 

The proposed model has three new training products.

Skill Standards

Jobs and Skills Councils will be responsible for developing Skill Standards which will replace Units of Competency as the building blocks for qualifications. Skill Standards will be elevated to the job function level rather than a discrete job task level, which will reduce unnecessary prescription and duplication and maximise skills transferability across industries. For example, there are 17 Units of Competency related to tasks required for bike repairs and servicing (such as installing gears, repairing tyres, overhauling suspension). These could be grouped into a job function Skill Standard for bike repair and servicing.

It is proposed the Australian Skills Classification is used to guide development of new training products. This will provide a common taxonomy and enable over 15,000 Units of Competency to move to an estimated 4,000 - 5,000 Skill Standards, making the system more relevant and accessible.

Skill Standards will be industry-sector neutral to reduce specificity and allow for better use across multiple industries and job roles. There will be a single template for all Skill Standards, which will provide for consistency while also acknowledging that Skill Standards can be applied in different ways:

  • Where a skill is relevant to multiple industries, Jobs and Skills Councils will collaborate to develop cross-sector Skill Standards where feasible, to reduce duplication and maximise skills transferability.
  • There will also be more specialised Skill Standards that are relevant to a smaller number of related industries, yet still maximise transferability across relevant sectors.
  • As with the current system, separate foundation Skill Standards will be developed and made available to all Jobs and Skills Councils and training providers for packaging into Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) aligned qualifications and skill sets as required to meet learner needs.

An important objective of the proposed model is for foundation skills, such as reading, writing and numeracy, to be more clearly and consistently articulated in all Skill Standards through reference to recognised, national frameworks: the Australian Core Skills Framework and the Digital Literacy Skills Framework.

Skill standards

Training and Assessment Requirements

Jobs and Skills Councils will develop Training and Assessment Requirements in collaboration with educators which will list the required performance and knowledge evidence a learner must demonstrate to be assessed as competent in a Skill Standard

Each Training and Assessment Requirement could be a separate training product with its own code and linked to a Skill Standard. Training and Assessment Requirements should provide necessary industry context and, where there is a demonstrated need, there may be more than one Training and Assessment Requirement linked to a Skill Standard. This may happen to reflect different licensing or regulatory requirements. The ownership of Training and Assessment Requirements and establishing clear guidelines for their development to minimise unnecessary proliferation are key issues requiring further consideration in consultation with stakeholders.

The Training and Assessment Requirement should not include overly prescriptive content but should provide mandatory requirements necessary to consistently assess learner competence in the skills and knowledge specified in the linked Skill Standard. A non-endorsed guidance section includes key non-mandatory information that is useful to training providers, such as the tools or technologies used by industry, which can be updated as required without needing to go through an endorsement process.

Completion Rules

As with the current model, qualifications and skill sets will continue to exist under the proposed model. Completion Rules are similar to the current qualifications template. Completion Rules should package Skill Standards and Training and Assessment Requirements into recognised qualifications and skill sets and outline entry requirements, licencing and regulatory requirements, mapping and pathways information and, for qualifications, the AQF level.

Proposed VET system architecture

A new VET system architecture would need to be put in place to enable a proposed model.

The proposed VET system architecture could have a library of Skill Standards developed by Jobs and Skills Councils, from which all Jobs and Skills Councils will draw. If there is no Skill Standard available in the library that meets industry needs, a Jobs and Skills Council can make a case for a new Skill Standard to be developed. Any new Skill Standards would become available in the library for other Jobs and Skills Councils to use.

The Jobs and Skills Councils responsible for developing a Skill Standard will also develop Training and Assessment Requirements to enable delivery of the Skill Standard. Jobs and Skills Councils will be responsible for packaging Skill Standards and their related Training and Assessment Requirements into completion rules for qualifications and skills sets.

Accredited courses and non-accredited training will continue to be a feature of the VET landscape as illustrated in the diagram below.

Accredited courses and non-accredited training will continue to be a feature of the VET landscape as illustrated in the diagram

Qualifications with broader vocational outcomes

Many current VET qualifications meet a single occupational outcome with limited recognition of transferable skills. This sometimes means learners wishing to undertake further training to enable a vertical move in an industry sector or a horizontal move to another sector end up undertaking some duplicative training, wasting time and resources and impacting labour market resilience.

The proposed model will have qualifications that are collaboratively designed to support clusters of related occupations and combine transferable skills with industry specialisations. Specialisation streams will offer industry specific skills related to a specific occupation.

This allows for broader vocational outcomes for learners, enabling learners to quickly upskill and reskill and move easily between job roles in related occupations without needing to complete a full qualification. Additionally, with greater transferability of skills and mobility, employers would have access to a larger pool of skilled workers to meet their workforce needs.

Qualifications with broader vocational outcomes

Example application of the proposed model

Examples of how the proposed model could be applied in practice are provided below. Please note that these examples were developed using a desktop analysis and not validated by industry.

The first example is the Certificate III in Floristry, which in the current system has 40 Units of Competency each outlined at a task level. In the proposed model, lifting Skill Standards to a job function level reduces unnecessary overlap and duplication between training products. This allows for several Units of Competency to potentially be combined into a single Skill Standard.

Task-level recognition of competency is a barrier to recognising the transferable skills of learners, and their pathways to employment, further education or training. The Certificate III in Floristry under the proposed model could have a specialist Skill Standard related to floristry, plus 5 cross-sectoral Skill Standards that could apply to a range of industries. It could also draw on foundation Skill Standards as required.

As the building block of a proposed model, a Skill Standard may also be packaged across a range of qualification levels, enabling learners to rapidly build upon their skills and knowledge as they move into different jobs (in this example, moving from a sales worker to a manager).

Example of the proposed model applied in Certificate three in Floristry

The second example shows how the proposed model improves job mobility when applied to the pest controller occupation.

Pest controller qualifications would have broader vocational outcomes by recognising cross-sectoral Skill Standards and using specialisations to provide specific training in urban or rural and environmental pest management.

With better recognition of prior learning, the completion of a Certificate III in Pest Management would provide a learner with potential future pathways into a range of other jobs with shared skills, such as arborist, commercial cleaner and greenskeeper. These cross-sectoral Skills Standards could be recognised across a broader range of industries, improving job mobility.

Example of the proposed model applied to the Pest Controller occupation

Key benefits of the proposed model

The VET system would be simpler and easier to navigate with less products. This would be achieved by moving from more than 15,000 task specific Units of Competency to a significantly smaller number (possibly around 2,000) of Skill Standards. Skill Standards would be developed at the job function level and based on a common taxonomy in the Australian Skills Classification.

The development of qualifications with broader vocational outcomes and greater use of specialisations and stackable skill sets would enable greater flexibility, transferability of skills and job mobility for learners, and would allow employers greater access to a wider talent pool to meet their workforce needs.

Training and Assessment Requirements would be less prescriptive, focused on providing the necessary information that training providers need to deliver while enabling training providers the flexibility to innovate and tailor training to local employer needs and different learner cohorts. Drawing on educator expertise in the development of Training and Assessment Requirements would ensure these products incorporate appropriate educational pedagogy and are fit for purpose.

The below table provides a comparison of the current versus the proposed systems.

The table provides a comparison of the current versus the proposed systems

A comparison of example learner and employer journeys through the current and proposed VET systems shows how the proposed model could lead to increased transferability of training, a reduction in time spent retraining and improve the pool of suitable employee candidates.

In the example learner journey:

  • The current system inadequately recognises transferable skills resulting in duplicative training that delivers similar skills to those the learner already has. The learner obtains four qualifications over an estimated 10 years to gain employment in a management role.
  • The proposed system widely recognises transferable skills, ensuring that training is not duplicative and builds on skills that are already held. The learner obtains two qualifications with two (2) specialisation streams over an estimated five years to gain employment in a management role.
A learner journey through the current and proposed VET systems

In the example employer journey:

  • The current system poorly recognises transferable skills, making it difficult to quickly address workforce needs, which results in lost productivity and costs to employers.
  • The proposed system widely recognises transferable skills, providing employers with a wide pool of potential employees, allowing employers to quickly address workforce needs.
A employer journeys through the current and proposed VET systems

Provide your feedback on the proposed model.

You can provide your feedback on the proposed model by completing the online survey. The online survey will close at 5pm AEDT, Friday 31 March 2023.