COVID-19 Priority Issues

AISC Emergency Response Committee

Issues Register

Sector/Job Task/Role Issue/s Status of response
Pandemic related issues 
Infection control

Infection control was raised as a priority skill need across multiple sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was particularly in relation to exposure to COVID-19 as well as placing pressure on certain industry sectors should infection rates increase.
 

A number of new infection control skill sets and supporting resources have been developed to respond to concerns about infection control arising as a result of COVID-19. These include industry specific infection control skill sets developed to respond to concerns in priority industry sectors in the early stages of the pandemic, as well as a cross-sector infection control skill set for use across a wide range of industries. 

These new units and skill sets are available on training.gov.au

The resources to support the infection control skill sets are available on the AISC website

Infection control has also been strengthened for students undertaking the Ageing and Disability specialisations of CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support. 

Laboratory Operations Significant increase in COVID-19 testing expected as criteria for testing broadens and social distancing restrictions are potentially relaxed.

The Point of Care Testing skill set was endorsed by Skills Ministers in April 2020 and is available on training.gov.au

Training and Assessment resources were also developed and available here

Aged and personal care workforce

Existing staff were at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 potentially leading to a shortage of workers. 

Sections of the industry also raised concerns about the entry level workforce being trained online before working with vulnerable people.
 

The Entry into Care skill set was endorsed in May 2020 and prepares new workers for entry into care roles and includes three units.

The Entry into Care skill set is available on training.gov.au 

Critical skills issues
Digital and Cyber Security Cyber security and digital skills have been raised as an issue with businesses pivoting to working from home, the increased risk of doing business online, and the need to support individuals to up-skill and reskill in the area of ICT.

A range of new skill sets have been developed to address urgent IT workforce needs in the context of COVID-19. These include: 

-    Range of skill sets on training.gov.au to support cyber security, cloud computing, data analytics, the internet of things 
-    Digital Skills for Small Business (see training.gov.au)
-    Entry into Technology (see training.gov.au

These new skill sets will complement ICT training already available through the ICT training package. 

Online Delivery for VET trainers VET trainers have had to rapidly shift to online and blended delivery of qualifications as a result of COVID-19 and restrictions in place. This has presented many challenges, including having to restructure teaching and learning approaches to meet training
product and workplace requirements, ensuring compliance, and adapting to new technologies to
support online training. 

The Deliver e-learning skill set has been developed to support VET trainers with the rapid shift to blended delivery. 

This skill set is available on training.gov.au

Manage disrespectful, aggressive or abusive customers

Numerous stakeholders have reported that as a result of COVID-19 frontline workers have faced increased hostility and aggression from customers (e.g. due to frustration with social distancing requirements, 
purchase limits on products and delays encountered when cleaning or sanitising premises). 

While the national training system does offer training in areas of conflict resolution and communication, these were not sufficient to cover the aggression of customers, nor the mental health and well-being of those workers subjected to abuse.

The sub-committee has endorsed the creation of a new cross-sectoral skill set that covers the skills and knowledge required by frontline customer service workers to manage disrespectful, aggressive or abusive customers. It contains information on strategies to deal with the customer, mental health and wellbeing of the worker and environmental means to prevent or assist in dealing with volatile customer situations.

Resources to assist in implementation have been created for a series of priority industry sectors:

  • Retail 
  • Hair & Beauty 
  • Hospitality 
  • Aged Care 
  • Local Government 
  • Public Transport 
  • Transport & Logistics – freight and warehousing 

The skill set is available at training.gov.au and resources are expected to be available on training.gov.au and the AISC websites by the end of October 2020. 

Aviation maintenance and logistics workers

Aviation maintenance and logistics workers have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 as a result of significant reductions in air travel. 

Stakeholders have identified the need to support displaced workers in these occupations to transition to areas of jobs growth. 

The AISC Secretariat continues to work with the Chairs of the Aerospace and Manufacturing and Engineering Industry Reference Committees to examine training options that could support displaced aviation workers to transition to new areas of employment. 
Employability/
enterprise skills
 

Some stakeholders have highlighted the need for employability/enterprise skills training. 

Some stakeholders have also suggested there is a need to support displaced workers/job seekers with skills recognition, CV writing, and job search activities. 

The sub-committee acknowledges the importance of supporting job seekers with basic skills development. 

The position of the sub-committee however, is that their focus should be on supporting training with a clear job outcome. 

The sub-committee has also highlighted the significant support that is already available to job seekers receiving income support in this area (through both accredited and non-accredited training), as well as the support that is available for activities such as job searching and CV writing through resources such as Jobs Jump Start, Jobs Hub and the ‘Where to Next?’ websites. 

Broad-based skill sets for school leavers

A number of stakeholders have suggested that broad-based skill sets are developed to support 2020 school leavers. 

It has been suggested that the skill sets are occupational cluster based, rather than focussed on a specific occupation, and provide core technical and employability skills common to jobs across the cluster. 

The possibility of developing a suite of broad based skill sets for school leavers is being explored. 

Further advice will be provided in the near future.

Training delivery issues
Mandatory Workplace Requirements (MWR)

A range of national training package products include MWR that students must complete in order to receive their qualification. These can include workplace experience and workplace assessment.

Stakeholders have raised concerns that restrictions on access to workplaces resulting from COVID-19 have been and continue to affect VET students’ ability to complete mandatory work placement. 

These issues are most prevalent in Victoria but are also reported to be experienced in other jurisdictions.

On 16 September 2020, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, wrote to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) on behalf of all skills ministers seeking urgent advice on options and solutions to address issues with mandatory work placement requirements in training packages.

To inform its response, the AISC Emergency Response Sub-committee (sub-committee) has sought advice from Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) on the rationale for mandatory workplace requirements included in units of competency appearing in high enrolment qualifications, and advice on any appropriate modifications.

Additionally, the sub committee requested advice from jurisdictions (through the Skills Senior Officials Network (SSON)) as well as from the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council and RTO peak bodies on COVID-19 barriers and existing and suggested solutions.

The AISC has also published a set of principles to guide solutions to address the immediate impact of the reduced availability of work placements due to COVID-19. 

Further information will be available on the AISC website shortly.