The establishment and operation of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) Emergency Response Sub-Committee (ERSC) during the COVID-19 pandemic has been widely welcomed by the VET sector. As the ERSC’s term has now ended, with the last meeting held on 9 December 2020, we reflect on its and achievements over the past year.
The former COAG Skills Council agreed to establish the ERSC on 3 April 2020 to quickly respond to areas of critical workforce, training and skills needs during the pandemic. The ERSC’s term was later extended as they were tasked by Skills Ministers to provide options and solutions relating to mandatory workplace requirements (MWR) as a result of COVID-19.
COVID-19 had a significant impact on training package development, particularly those sectors disrupted by the sudden changes in social and economic conditions. At the outset, the ERSC’s priority was to support the skill needs of key frontline workforces such as community services and health. Its focus then shifted towards supporting rapid skills development for displaced workers and meeting urgent and unmet skills needs of business.
The ERSC worked closely with industry, government and VET regulators, to understand the specific priorities for workforce and training needs. The rapid approval model for training product development has been widely acknowledged as an example of a successful response to the pandemic and critical in supporting the necessary skills during for economic recovery.
The ERSC endorsed several updates to training packages and new skill sets throughout the year, as highlighted in the infographic and listed below.
Critical Skill Sets endorsed:
- Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Skill Set
- Digital Skills for Small Business Skill Set
- Entry into Technology Skill Set
- Manage Disrespectful, Aggressive or Abusive Customers Skill Set
- Deliver E-Learning Skill Set
- XG Cellular Network Infrastructure Rollout Skill Set
- XG Cellular Network Implementation Skill Set
One of the ERSC’s key achievements is highlighted below.
In May the ERSC developed new infection control skill sets for the retail, food handling, transport and logistics, and health sectors. Supporting workers exposed to unprecedented and unusual infection risks, the skill sets were critical to economic recovery and supporting businesses to re-open safely.
An additional cross-sectoral skill set was created to address infection control needs across a broad range of industries and to complement the originally developed skill sets. Contextualisation advice was also provided for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) across 10 industry sectors, including 31 sub-sectors. The delivery of these skill sets has been facilitated through a joint Commonwealth and state and territory $80 million Infection Control Training Fund, established to support free, or low cost, training to 80,000 key workers across Australia.
The AISC would like to thank all the members of the ERSC for their time, expertise and commitment over the past year, as well as industry stakeholders who have been vital in identifying critical priority areas.