Communique: Emergency Response Sub-Committee - 5 November 2020

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The eighteenth meeting of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) Emergency Response Sub-Committee (the sub-committee) was held on Thursday 5 November 2020. 

National Skills Commission - update on labour market demand for skills 

The National Skills Commissioner, Mr Adam Boyton, outlined the work that has been done by the National Skills Commission (NSC) since he presented to the sub-committee in June 2020. Mr Boyton outlined the latest NSC findings on the state of the labour market, including new opportunities for the VET system to help job seekers as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Mandatory Workplace Requirements - Update on AISC actions and recommendations 

The sub-committee noted that its advice and recommendations on actions to address issues with mandatory workplace requirements (MWR) has now been provided to skills ministers.  

This follows the formal tasking of the AISC skills ministers on 16 September 2020 to provide options and solutions to the ongoing issue of MWR during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In response, the AISC’s Emergency Response Sub-Committee undertook a range of activities to both identify the impact COVID-19 has had on the capacity of students to complete qualifications, and how these impacts might be managed and addressed. Through this process, the sub-committee found that:

  • Reliable, accurate and up to date information on MWR is lacking and there is only minimal credible and contemporary data available, making quantifying the nature and extent of the issue difficult.
  • While challenges exist in delivering MWR, these are not evenly shared geographically or between industries. In particular, aged care appears to have been heavily impacted given the additional pressure of managing infection control risks in that sector.
  • There is evidence of RTOs and employers developing innovative solutions to support students.  
  • There are broader systemic issues that arise from MWR. This includes generalised industry concerns regarding the quality of institution-only delivery, misconceptions about the validity of simulated workplace approaches, inconsistency in the approach to the inclusion of MWR and unclear language which creates delivery issues for RTOs.
  • Some stakeholders report an unwillingness or inability to actively facilitate placements for students in certain industries.   

The AISC has therefore determined that it will take several immediate actions to address these issues, including:

  • facilitating urgent changes to two qualifications containing MWR, to be progressed to skills ministers for rapid approval before the end of the year; 
  • preparing advice for RTOs to clarify delivery requirements for qualifications in the sport and recreation, and travel, tourism and hospitality sectors which provide for MWR to be delivered using simulated or other alternative methods; and
  • immediately tasking relevant IRCs with reviewing and providing advice by the end of November on MWR in training packages.  

The sub-committee has also commissioned the development of guidance material to support IRCs and SSOs to determine where MWR are appropriate, and to ensure these are drafted clearly in training products put forward for endorsement. The sub-committee will continue to work closely with stakeholders to monitor the environment, particularly as restrictions begin to ease in Victoria, and to put in place further actions and recommendations where required.  

Critical Skills for Recovery - Phase two update 

The sub-committee approved two proposals for new skill sets to support workers impacted by COVID-19 and the economic downturn:

  • Support Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace
  • 5G telecommunication Skill Set.  

The sub-committee agreed that the new national training package products would help provide essential skills for employers and workers to support mental wellbeing in the workplace, and skills that will support workers to build skills and take advantage of job opportunities in the emerging 5G technology field. These proposals will be further developed for consideration in early December before being made available on 

Title Scope
Support Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace  A cross-sector skill set for individuals supporting the mental wellbeing of peers and supervisors in a range of workplaces.
5G Telecommunication Skill Set and Interpretation Guide  A new skill set in the ICT Information and Communications Technology Training Package to support the rollout of the 5G network comprising existing units of competency that can be contextualised to meet the skill requirements for deploying the network.  This skill set will specifically assist displaced workers to reskill as mobile network technicians and 5G deployment technicians. 

The sub-committee also noted that a resource to support the implementation of the Pharmaceutical Operator Induction Skill Set (endorsed by the sub-committee on 16 September 2020) is currently in development and will soon be made available to support the delivery of this skill set.  

The resource being developed is designed to assist employers to utilise the VET system to train pharmaceutical workers, identify and support required training, work programs and assessment that needs to take place within a workplace or equivalent environment. It will also encourage the rapid take up of the skill set by supporting RTOs to place the skill set on scope and to commence delivery of training and assessment.   

Communications and Engagement update 

The sub-committee noted the continued enhancements have been made to the AISC website to improve its design and functionality, including greater prominence of COVID-19 content on the main menu. 

Next Meeting 

The next sub-committee meeting will be held on 24 November 2020.