Communique: Emergency Response Sub-Committee - 16 September 2020

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The fourteenth meeting of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) Emergency Response Sub‑Committee (the sub-committee) was held on Wednesday 16 September 2020.

Mandatory Work Placements

The sub-committee discussed the re-emergence of issues associated with mandatory work placement requirements in national training packages during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the impact of these issues currently appears to be most prevalent in Victoria owing to the current COVID-19 measures in place in that jurisdiction, but is also of concern in other jurisdictions.

The sub-committee agreed to seek urgent advice from the network of Industry Reference Committees. This exercise will focus initially on high enrolment qualifications and seek advice on where mandatory work placements could be modified to support students to complete their training, while also maintaining industry confidence in the skills of graduates and ensuring vital industry sectors have a supply of skilled workers.

The sub-committee also endorsed a set of principles  developed at a roundtable of VET stakeholders held in Victoria on 2 September 2020 to guide solutions to mandatory work placement issues. These will be shared with IRCs to inform their responses.  

The issue of mandatory work placements was initially considered by the sub-committee in June 2020, following potential concerns raised by stakeholders and has been monitored on an ongoing basis since that time. The easing of social distancing measures in most jurisdictions relieved initial pressures, but the current situation in Victoria means that a large number of students and RTOs are potentially affected and the sub-committee intends to focus initial efforts on the qualifications most significantly impacted by the pandemic.

Critical Skills for Economic Recovery

The sub-committee discussed and approved three of the seven phase one critical skills for recovery training products for further development in July and August. In endorsing the proposals, the sub‑committee acknowledged the significant efforts of IRCs and Skills Service Organisations in developing high quality, targeted training products that will benefit job seekers, workers and businesses within a very short timeframe.

The sub-committee endorsed the following three projects for implementation:



Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Skillset

Creation of a new skill set comprising existing units of competency to support workers entering the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, including work with vaccines and antibody testing devices.

Digital Skills for Small Business

Creation of a new skill set comprising existing units of competency to support small businesses with basic competencies in developing an online business presence, servicing customers online and conducting business transactions online.

Entry into Technology

Creation of a new skill set comprising existing units of competency to cover the key areas of general ICT, cloud computing, cyber security, programming and software development. This skill set will enable displaced workers and existing ICT sector professionals to reskill or upskill in key technology competencies and enter job roles the sector is experiencing demand.


These products will be available for delivery shortly and will help to support displaced workers and businesses to gain new skills and build on existing skills to take advantage of opportunities that exist now and into the future. All of the skill sets endorsed by the sub-committee will be in-scope for inclusion on the JobTrainer Fund list. The sub-committee also noted the importance of monitoring the effectiveness of these products to ensure that they appropriately support displaced workers and businesses to grow their skills and take up job opportunities.

The sub-committee also noted ICT Fast Track – supporting RTO Interpretation Guide has been developed and will be published for RTO use. This will be made available to support RTOs in the coming weeks.

The sub-committee discussed a proposed skill set for chefs in aged care and requested further advice on the appropriateness of the inclusion of a mandatory workplace element.

The sub-committee noted that the remaining two projects (Support for Frontline Workers and Upskilling Trainers for Virtual Delivery), will be presented to the sub-committee for approval at the next sub‑committee meeting.

The sub-committee also noted that work continues on the second phase of critical skills for recovery work. This work will explore opportunities to support job seekers through broad based occupational skill sets and will also access national labour market data to identify any further training pathways required to support displaced workers to transition to areas of labour market growth.

Critical Skills Issues Register

The sub-committee noted the Critical Skills Issues Register.

Next Meeting

The next sub-committee meeting will be held on 2 October 2020.