National Skills Overview 2020-2021

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2020-2021 National Industry Insights Report


The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) National Industry Insights Report (NIIR) contains a  high-level analysis of industry skills needs, and the factors and trends affecting the demand for skills at a national and cross-industry level. The 2020-2021 National Skills Overview consists of four key sections which are detailed below.

1. Insights and highlights 

Summarises the top five skills most highly prioritised across Industry Reference Committee (IRC) Skills Forecasts, the various factors (including those related to COVID-19) which drive skill demand, and key initiatives which aim to address these skill needs.

2. Priority skills

Examines the key skills identified by IRCs in their Skills Forecasts. These complement the Skills Priority List (SPL), developed by the National Skills Commission (NSC), by providing supplementary views on skills needs directly from industry, while the SPL provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for occupations. The evidence supporting the development of the SPL includes labour market data analysis, employer surveys, stakeholder consultation with industry bodies and federal and state/territory government agencies, as well as consideration of data and information. Different data sources are used by the NIIR and the NSC, providing a richer insight into skills needs. Between the two, a large and diverse range of data is utilised, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Labour Force Survey, the Participation, Job Search and Mobility supplementary survey, the Labour Market Information Portal, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), and the Survey of Employers who have Recently Advertised (SERA).

NIIR priority skills identified by IRCs include collaboration skills, digital skills, and industry and occupation skills.

  • The top priority generic skill identified in IRC Skills Forecasts is Adaptability and learning skills. Some of the ways in which industry need workers to be adaptable include showing resilience and embracing change, adapting to new technologies and new ways of doing business, and responding to situations with flexibility and open-mindedness. Demand for adaptability and learning skills was further heightened with the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in a large proportion of the workforce working remotely.
  • Business and compliance skills have also become more important during the pandemic and is another priority skill that has been identified. These include financial, organisational, planning and operational, which allow businesses to work more flexibly and continue growing. Health and safety, and risk management have also received attention, particularly challenges posed by lockdowns, border closures and panic buying.

3. Factors and trends

Considers some of the high-level factors and trends which influence and drive the demand for skills at a national and cross-industry level.

4. Key initiatives 

Identifies and provides links to information on training package development activities and initiatives of the AISC and its network of IRCs.


The industry pages on the NIIR website break this information down further, sector by sector. This provides easy-to-access industry-specific data and analysis on training patterns and employment trends, as well as an examination of industry literature and relevant research which identifies the skills in highest demand over the coming years.


The NIIR website has been developed for the AISC by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER). It brings together data, along with industry intelligence and other information, to assist IRCs in the design and development of training packages that meet industry needs, now and into the future.

The data and information contained in the NIIR is refined and updated every year to ensure it remains useful and relevant, with the 2021-22 update about to commence. The industry pages will be updated first, with updates staggered into two main content releases over the coming months. This information will then be used to update the National Skills Overview in early 2022.

For more information visit the National Industry Insights Report website.