Addressing the changing skills needs of employers and individuals: Qualifications Reform

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In August 2020, the Australian, state and territory governments agreed that an immediate priority under the Heads of Agreement for Skills Reform was to simplify and streamline national VET qualifications.

It is important to retain and build upon the existing strengths of the VET system and to guide this work to modernise training product design. A particular focus of qualification reform is to consider new approaches that will better meet the needs of employers and learners now and in the future.

Trialling new concepts

In October 2020, Skills Ministers agreed to trial new evidence-led approaches to designing qualifications, with trials to be run by three Skills Organisation Pilots in Mining, Digital and Human Services. The trials are underway, testing design elements that were validated through consultations in early 2021.

The trials are underpinned by the following design objectives:

  1. Broader vocational outcomes to recognise skill commonality and promote labour mobility, where feasible

  2. A reduction in unnecessary training product duplication

  3. A reduction in training product complexity, through reducing over-specification and improving training delivery and assessment advice

  4. An enhanced relationship between training products, training needs and pathways to employment and further education

  5. Greater training product flexibility and enhanced responsiveness to changing industry need through short courses (micro-credentials and skill sets)

  6. Improved articulation and pathways between education sectors, building on the AQF review recommendations

Mining Skills Organisation Trial

This trial will develop and test a new apprenticeship for mobile plant diesel mechanics that incorporates the critical skills required for autonomous mining vehicles. This will address an immediate skills need that has been identified by the mining industry and help learners progress their careers.

Digital Skills Organisation Trial

This trial will test new ways to train data analysts to meet industry's need for technologically capable Australians. The trial will have a focus on ensuring career pathways into digital jobs are simple and relevant to both employees and employers.

Human Services Skills Organisation Trial

This trial will focus on career pathways for the Personal Care Worker job family within the aged care sector. The trial will develop new forms of qualifications for personal care workers and evaluate these against existing qualifications.


To gather stakeholder feedback, the Qualifications Design Survey ran from December 2020 to February 2021. The survey invited those in the VET sector involved in the design, development, and delivery of national training products to give us feedback on the qualification design concepts being tested.

What was the purpose of the survey?

Qualification design trials and stakeholder consultation will help build the evidence base required to inform future standards and policies for national training products, to support a strong and adaptable national training system.

What have we heard?

We received responses from a wide range of stakeholders, including registered training organisations (RTOs), trainers and assessors, VET experts, employers and business owners, industry experts, industry peak bodies, Skills Service organisations, State and Territory Government, learners, teachers, trainees and apprentices, VET peak bodies, parents or carers, employee representatives and unions, schools, careers advisors, and regulators.

The survey demonstrated strong support for the concepts being tested through the trials, with 89% of respondents (including 88% of industry and employer respondents and 96% of RTOs) supporting the design elements:

  • Qualifications based on appropriately grouped occupation and skills clusters to deliver broader vocational outcomes for students. This includes supporting stronger recognition of cross-sectoral and transferable skills.

  • Simplifying products and removing complexity through the separation of occupational and training standards, to reduce the level of prescriptive conditions in current qualifications, and make better use of industry ad educationalist expertise.

  • Stand-alone and/or stackable short form training products, with improved pathways advice to support students to rapidly upskill or reskill to pursue career opportunities. This includes facilitating stronger articulation pathways between school, VET, and Higher Education to support lifelong learning.

Through the survey, we received some more detailed feedback on the design concepts, as well as other aspects of VET training:

  • Enterprise and foundation skills - respondents talked about embedding digital literacy in training, and more foundation skills support services.

  • Learner needs and pathways - for example, training availability in regional areas, assurance of the learner experience, individualised development needs and simplified language.

  • Training product development - respondents discussed developing nationally consistent training materials, and testing workforce capability frameworks for stakeholders to create courses and design job roles.

  • Delivery and assessment - respondents raised simulated versus on the job assessment environments, and a move to blended delivery.

  • Relevance and outcomes - respondents discussed input from professionals in identifying training needs, and standardising final assessments, taking into account industry relevance.

The survey data is informing the qualification design trials and future consultations as the trials progress.

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