We get asked a lot of questions about vocational education and training (VET) in our role as a Jobs and Skills Council and our work with industry, training providers and government to improve skills and training. Listed below are some of the more common questions. Please feel free to contact us if you have any others.

Getting involved & having your say

  • To help guide the direction of our work! Your comments about skills and training issues help inform our annual Workforce Plan, which identifies key priorities for future projects and activities.
  • To work together on solutions! Our consultation process brings together stakeholders from across the skills system and industry so that all perspectives are considered and solutions balance the concerns of all impacted parties.
  • To support future learners and industry as a whole! Your real world insights are crucial so that future learners have access to training that is responsive to what’s happening in current job roles and the broader workforce

There are a range of ways to be involved in the work we do to improve skills and training, depending on the time you have available and your expertise. If you are interested in getting involved, you can:

  • Provide feedback on a project via email, phone, or the Skills Insight Feedback Hub.
  • Express interest to become a subject matter expert or part of the Technical Committee for one of the projects.
  • Provide feedback on issues impacting skills and training through the Workforce Plan
  • Subscribe to our newsletter to receive newsletter updates on projects and activities relevant to your industry. If you are already a subscriber, make sure your subscription preferences are up to date.
  • Apply to have your organisation become a Skills Insight Member. Member organisations have the opportunity to participate in one of 13 Formal Networks, each of which nominates a representative for the Stakeholder Forum. These structures make up part of Skills Insight JSC’s governance functions.
  • Get in touch any time with broader thoughts about the skills needs of your sector!

If you have something to say about skills and training needs that is not currently being addressed by a project, you can get in touch with us at any time by emailing [email protected] or calling 03 9321 3526. Your feedback will help inform workforce planning activities, out of which our activities and projects are identified.

Skills Insight is responsible for collaborating on skills and training solutions for the agribusiness, fibre, furnishing, food, animal and environment care industries. If your idea or issue is regarding an industry outside our remit, you can find the full list of Jobs and Skills Councils on the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations website.

Provide us with your feedback!

Qualifications, skill sets and units should reflect the skills that industry require. To keep them up to date with shifting industry needs, Skills Insight Jobs and Skills Council (JSC) collects evidence from stakeholders.

We are always keen to hear from you about potential improvements. Get in touch at any time by emailing [email protected] or calling 03 9321 3526. Your feedback will be listened to and captured in our feedback register.

Successful stakeholder-led changes to qualifications, skill sets and units involve stakeholders who:

  • Provide information to Skills Insight about a skills gap or challenge in their industry
  • Provide as much of the following information as possible:
  • What has changed?
  • What is the skills gap?
  • What job roles are affected?
  • What evidence supports the need for change?
  • Who agrees these skills are needed or how to find industry representatives to consult?
  • How a Training Package could address the skills gap?
  • What are the impacts to the Training Package and RTOs?
  • Assist Skills Insight to source other stakeholders to gather further information and support
  • Engage in workshops and consultation activities during projects.

About JSCs & Skills Insight

Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs) are a national network of industry owned and led organisations, designed to provide leadership in addressing national skills and training needs. They have been established to supply industry with a strong and strategic voice within the VET sector as part of broader government-led skills reform

JSCs undertake projects to identify skills and workforce needs, map career pathways, support collaboration between industry and training providers, and act as a source of intelligence on issues affecting their industries. 

JSCs collaborate with industry, unions and stakeholders across the VET system to provide a holistic picture of the skills landscape and potential solutions. Collaboration between JSCs is also important, so that skills and training priorities can be approached from an economy wide perspective. Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA)  also plays a key role, providing workforce analysis and projections that JSCs use to inform their industry planning.

Informed by their networks, JSCs work towards improved outcomes for the VET sector, learners, and business, in turn building greater confidence in the system and better quality of life for the nation as a whole. 

See the Department of Education and Workforce Relations website for more information on the Jobs and Skills Councils

Skills Insight is responsible for collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders to improve skills and training across the agribusiness, fibre, furnishing, food, animal and environment care industries, including:

  • Animal care and management
  • Aquaculture and wild catch
  • Broadacre cropping
  • Ecosystem management, conservation, landscaping and gardening
  • Forest management and harvesting
  • Furnishing and other manufacturing
  • Horticulture
  • Livestock farming
  • Meat, poultry and seafood processing
  • Pulp, paper, packaging and hygiene products
  • Racing and breeding
  • Textiles, clothing and footwear
  • Timber, wood processing and building solutions

There are ten JSCs, responsible for specific industries across the workforce:

Read more about JSCs and their remit from the Department of Employment and Workforce Relations.  

The Workforce Plan is a key part of Skills Insight’s work and paves the way for the Department’s approval of projects.

The Workforce Plan provides insight into skills gaps and labour shortages, assessing whether training and skills are meeting industry demand. It outlines current and emerging issues impacting skills and training, providing insight into small and niche industries, and jurisdictional variations, as well as larger sectors.

While the focus of JSCs is on Vocational Education and Training (VET), the Workforce Plan is not limited to VET and skills related challenges and solutions. JSCs take a broader approach to the skills system, considering all barriers to meeting the ambitions of a skilled workforce including consideration of pathways from VET for Secondary Schools to VET, and between VET and higher education.

Workforce planning is one of the four key functions of a JSC. It is crucial to establishing the context and strategy for the three other functions: training product development; implementation, promotion and monitoring; and industry stewardship. The Workforce Plan reports on data, engagement, feedback and intelligence uncovered through all JSC functions and will undergo continual development in response to ongoing activities.

Skills Insight has been designed as a member-based organisation, where Members represent stakeholders and, through various structures, guide the direction of Skills Insight in delivering services and outcomes.

Membership is free and involves as much time as you are able to commit.

Members are required to agree to the JSC Code of Conduct and the Skills Insight Constitution.

There are two types of membership: industry membership for organisations carrying out industry-based activities; and associate membership, for registered training organisations, group training organisations and similar organisations who are part of the VET sector or research sectors.

All Members have the opportunity to participate in stakeholder activities and engagement, connecting you with others who share an interest in skills and training and offering the chance to collaborate on solutions. This includes access to our virtual networks (once established), which will provide the ability to discuss issues as they arise, and to formal networks which will aid in the decision-making processes of the JSC.

For more details, please see the Membership webpage.

Members who are interested in applying their governance skills to the JSC activities and projects are welcome to apply to be part of a Stakeholder Network.

The Stakeholder Networks are made up of as many as 200 industry and association members. Members provide advice to the Stakeholder Forum prior to decision-taking by the JSC. Each network also nominates a representative and a proxy for the Stakeholder Forum.

Thirteen of these Stakeholder Networks are industry sector specific and up to ten are drawn from the well-established networks of organisations that are large employee or employer representative bodies and/or organisations with large cross-sectoral coverage.

Find out more about Industry Stewardship and networks.

The Stakeholder Forum is a key governance and operational body that guides Skills Insight’s work alongside the Skills Insight Board, CEO and management team. Representatives lead, prioritise, oversee and provide advice on the areas of JSC operation under the grant agreement.

The Stakeholder Forum is made up of 23 representatives from the Stakeholder Networks, from organisations eligible for Industry Membership. Thirteen representatives are nominated by the sector specific formal networks. Ten representatives are from large employee or employer representative bodies and/or organisations with large cross-sectoral coverage.

Members on the Stakeholder Forum may have expertise in one or more sector, skills areas or matters of importance, such as respect for Country and climate change. Together, they will represent all industry sectors Skills Insight supports.

Together, they will represent all industry sectors Skills Insight supports.

Find out more about our leadership and networks.

Other parts of the skills system

The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is a method of classifying occupations within the Australian and New Zealand labour markets so that workforce challenges and needs can be better understood.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) assigns each occupation a title, description and skill level. These occupations are then included in the census to collect information about the workforce.

All levels of government in Australia use occupations identified in the census to decide which job roles require government support and the kind of support they need. Recognition in the ANZSCO and an accurate description are essential for an occupation to access support.

The data ANZSCO provides influences decision making related to:

  • listing occupations for skilled migration visa programs
  • the apprentice system
  • policies and programs to address skills shortages
  • analyses of labour market trends and workforce planning
  • tracking and addressing occupational health and safety risk factors.

Stakeholders can provide feedback on the ANZSCO concerning incorrectly described occupations, inappropriate skill levels, and occupations that are not yet classified (new or emerging). When occupations are correctly defined, policies and programs that use the ANZSCO can be more effective.

As a Jobs and Skills Council (JSC) Skills Insight is invested in improving workforce, skills and training outcomes for the agribusiness, fibre and furnishing industries. Facilitating industry input into the ANZSCO can help us achieve this, because when the ANZSCO is accurate industry can access support from policies and programs designed using ANZSCO data.

What is an ITAB?

Industry Training Advisory Bodies (ITABs) are autonomous industry bodies recognised and funded by state governments to provide advice from industry on training matters. Typically, they are incorporated bodies employing their own staff, with membership representing employers and employees within the industry.

Each ITAB is structured differently to best represent and support its industries.

Skills Insight performs an ITAB role as AFAM, the NSW ITAB for the agriculture, food and animal management sectors in NSW.

The following ITABs work across the agribusiness, fibre , furnishing, food, animal and environment care industries:

What do ITABs do?

Each ITAB has established industry networks made up of people in industry who donate their time to support the ITAB to fulfil their contracted roles and responsibilities.

ITABs are a crucial source of business intelligence and inform the State Government by:

  • Identifying industry skill needs, priorities and skills development issues.
  • Promoting training to industry to assist in the take-up of funded training, including, school-based apprenticeships and traineeships, in collaboration with Government.
  • Advising the State Government on apprenticeship and traineeship arrangements.
  • Advising the State Government on the development, review and implementation of Training Packages/Training Products.
  • Support the delivery of vocational education and training to school students.

An accredited course is a nationally recognised course that has been developed to train skills not covered by a training package. To be accredited a course needs to be recognised by a regulatory body, either the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) or a state regulator. They are often short courses, but not always. 

Training packages are funded by the government and are available for all RTOs to use to develop their training. They are reviewed and updated by the Jobs and Skills Councils in consultation with industry and trainers.

Accredited courses can be developed by anyone and are the intellectual property of the person who creates them. The creator of the course must pay for it to be accredited and can then license the course to RTOs. You cannot accredit a course with the same outcome as an existing training package. 

About training packages & the process to update them

Training packages are a collection of documents that describe the skills required to perform certain job roles. The documents that make up a training package, referred to as ‘training products’, include units of competency and their related assessment requirements, qualifications, skill sets, credit arrangements and Companion Volumes.

Training packages are used by registered training organisations and industry as a framework for developing training. They are industry’s way of telling trainers what skills and knowledge students need to perform particular job roles and to what standard. The advantage of training packages is that they offer a national and industry-led approach to training and assessment, giving workers access to skills standards that are recognised across Australia. You can view these at training.gov.au.

Qualifications support job roles within industry. They outline groupings of units of competency to complete to gain competency to take on a given job role. Qualifications within the Australian VET system are available from Certificates I, II, III and IV, to Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma.

Units of competency are the building blocks of qualifications. They consist of two parts – the unit of competency which defines the skills and knowledge required for effective performance in a discrete area of work, work function, activity or process, and the assessment requirements which specify the evidence and required conditions for assessment.

Skill sets are combinations of units that cover skills required for specialist industry needs (which sometimes can link to a licence or regulatory requirement).

Registered training organisations (RTOs) use training packages to design their curriculum or training programs. Training packages do not prescribe how an individual should be trained.

RTOs are responsible for assessing whether an individual meets the skills standards specified by industry and described in a unit of competency and its assessment requirements.

RTOs are required to adhere to the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 to formally deliver training packages and generate testamurs to students.

The need to update or develop a training package emerges out of stakeholder feedback and research into the skills needs of the industries we work with. This information is used to inform our Workforce Plan of which an activity submission is developed and submitted to the Department of Employment and Workforce Relations (DEWR) who consider and approve the projects to go ahead.

Each training package project Skills Insight undertakes progresses through five stages:

  • Project plan – at which the purpose, scope and timeline of the project are outlined and we finalise the technical committee which will help guide the project.
  • Development – where we give an update on initial consultation activities and provide information about upcoming opportunities for feedback.
  • Broad consultation – at which time we collect feedback on proposed solutions from a range of sources via our website, email and phone conversations.
  • Consensus gathering – when we collect final comment and confirmation from stakeholders about the work we have undertaken.
  • Finalisation – at which the training products (e.g: qualifications, skill sets, units, etc) go through final checks and approval, including an internal quality-checking process, followed by a check with Commonwealth and state/territory Senior Responsible Officers before being submitted to the Training Package Assurance Body who will undertake a completion and compliance check before making a recommendation to Skills Ministers. Once endorsed by Skills Ministers, the training products will be published on the National Training Register at training.gov.au and made publicly available for use.

Each stage involves thorough consultation with employers, employees, registered training organisations (RTOs), State and Territory Training Authorities (STAs), government, unions and Industry Training Advisory Bodies (ITABs), and other interested and impacted stakeholders.

 Click across the tabs to view active and completed project stages. Consultation takes place at every stage of the project.

Skills Insight is a not-for-profit, government funded, industry-led organisation and one of ten Jobs and Skills Councils. Our role is to collaborate with stakeholders across industry and the skills system to improve skills and training for the agribusiness, fibre, furnishing, food, animal and environment care industries. We have a responsibility to make sure training products are current, compliant with the Standards for Training Packages, and fit for purpose.

With approval from the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR), Skills Insight undertakes projects to understand skills needs, challenges, and potential solutions and deliver outcomes based on these findings. We openly and accurately evaluate and report on these outcomes to guide future decision making.

Read more about Our Role.

Changes to qualifications, skills sets & units

A unit is deleted when the skills, knowledge and/or tasks it describes, are determined to be no longer applicable by those training and working in the industry. If a unit has had low or no enrolments in recent years, it will be investigated as to whether the unit should be deleted. If stakeholders determine that the process or job task described is no longer relevant, the unit will be proposed for deletion. Occasionally a unit can be deleted because it duplicates the skills and knowledge covered by another unit.

A unit may be proposed for deletion as part of an approved project. If stakeholders indicate that the skills, knowledge or job task described within the unit are no longer relevant, and the Assurance Body and Skills Ministers support this view, it will be removed from the qualification/s.

A unit cannot be classified as deleted without being removed from every qualification and/or skill set it is listed in, within its host training package. For example: a unit beginning with the code SFI would only be considered deleted when the unit has been removed from all qualifications and skill sets in the SFI Seafood Training Package.

If a unit is listed in qualifications or skill sets used by multiple sectors across a host training package, all sectors that use the unit should be consulted as part of other training package projects, especially if that unit appears in the core of a qualification. This happens on a case by case basis. If the unit is no longer relevant to those sector areas, the unit will be removed from those qualifications and/or skill sets as well. However, if a unit is still considered required by a sector in the host training package, the unit will remain in the relevant qualifications. It would not be considered “deleted” but would be removed from the qualifications where it was no longer needed.

If a unit is deleted from its host training package, any other training packages that use the unit will need to undergo their own reviews to determine suitable actions to remove the deleted unit. As Skills Insight is only responsible for the review of certain training packages, it is not always within our scope to consult about every qualification a unit is listed in, as these are the responsibility of other JSCs. However, part of our role includes collaboration with other JSCs and we will engage with them as needed, and notify the relevant JSC where our work with training products impacts industries within their remit.

If a qualification or unit is superseded it has undergone major change and this is a clear indication that industry needs have changed and the previous qualification or unit is no longer the most suitable for training delivery.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority has recently updated its Users’ Guide to Standards for RTOs 2015 so that when a unit is superseded an RTO may choose to use the most recent version of the unit rather than the version specified within a qualification or skill set. This rule applies even when the unit is in the core or a specialisation of a qualification and applies whether the replacement unit is equivalent or not equivalent.

See also: What is a minor update to a qualification or unit? What is a major update to a qualification or unit?

Minor changes to units of competency and qualifications include:

  • correcting errors (including to ensure the training package on training.gov.au accurately reflects the latest approved update)
  • updating outdated references (for example to licensing and regulation arrangements)
  • providing clarification without changing the requirements.

In addition, the following changes to existing qualifications would also be considered minor:

  • adding elective units of competency to a qualification
  • updating elective units of competency in a qualification that do not form part of a specialisation
  • adding, updating, or removing groups of electives or a specialisation (without adding or removing units of competency to or from the qualification itself), where this does not change the number of units of competency required to be completed.

Major changes to existing units of competency include:

  • Adding or removing a pre-requisite to a unit of competency
  • Updating a pre-requisite to a unit of competency
  • Updating a unit of competency in a way that does not meet the criteria for a minor change

Major changes to existing qualifications include:

  • Adding or removing units of competency to or from the core of a qualification
  • Removing units of competency from the electives within a qualification
  • Revising units of competency in the core of a qualification
  • Changing the total number of units required to complete a qualification
  • Creating a new specialisation or removing an existing specialisation
  • Adding or removing units of competency to or from a specialisation within a qualification

A unit may appear across several qualifications, and these qualifications can be across several industry training packages. When a unit is superseded all qualifications that include the unit will need to be updated, but the timing of when this occurs may be different for each qualification. To update a qualification, a new version of the whole training package must be created, so often changes are strategically bundled together to reduce the number of updates to training packages within a short space of time. Every time there is a change to a qualification the RTOs delivering it need to spend considerable resources to transition to the new standards. We keep this in mind when planning updates.

Updating superseded units within a qualification happens on a case by case basis, following key considerations:

  1. Whether the unit is listed as a core or elective in a qualification: this will determine whether updating the unit in the qualification would result in a major (core) or minor (elective) change. Other changes which are considered major can include if the unit is not considered equivalent to the one it is superseding and it appears in a specialisation within the qualification.
  2. Whether a project is already underway to update qualifications and units within the training package: this would allow the changes to be made with minimal impact to the training package.

If the change to the qualification is considered minor and there is a project underway in that training package, the unit will usually be updated. If there is no project underway, it is likely the qualifications would not be updated right away, even if the change is minor, as making the changes will create a new version of the training package.

If the change to the qualification is considered major, further consideration will be given to the best time to update that qualification. If the training package is already being updated, the superseded unit might be added to the update, especially if it is the only change being made to the qualification. Other times it will be held off for when the qualification is being reviewed in full, so that all of the units within the qualification and their learning outcomes can be considered together. The original unit is still able to be taught until such time as the qualification is updated (See the Standards for RTOs 2015 Clauses 1.26 and 1.27 for more information. You may also like to read the User Guide to the Standards on the ASQA website).

The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations has developed a Training Package Products Development and Endorsement Process Policy (TPPDEPP) which outlines the timeframe for developing training package products such as qualifications. While each JSC may have their own way of managing the process, they are obliged to adhere to this framework. The below infographic provides a summary of the information included in the policy.

You can read more about this process by downloading the Training Package Products Development and Endorsement Process Policy (TPPDEPP).

Following approval, the revised or new training package products are published by the JSC on the National Training Register, training.gov.au.

The qualification, skill set or unit is now available for use, but registered training organisations (RTOs) will need time to prepare to deliver them. It can take up to 18 months from the time of publication on training.gov.au for an RTO to be ready to teach the updated or new skill standards.

If the units, skill sets and/or qualifications are on scope for an RTO and have had either minor or major updates deemed as equivalent, they will be automatically put on scope. When units, skill sets and qualifications are either new or updated and deemed not equivalent, RTOs will have to apply to put these components on their scope. However, each RTO also considers their return on investment: i.e. what is the overall cost of development and delivery versus enrolment earning potential? If it is deemed financially viable, the RTO will most likely develop the appropriate training and assessment materials and apply for the components to be put onto their scope.

The Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) also needs time to update the Victorian Purchasing Guide for the training package, which provides nominal hours for units of competency and maximum payable hours for qualifications.

Skills Insight works with stakeholders so that we can develop units, skill sets and qualifications or other training products that describe how job tasks and roles are performed. Ultimately the nature of the work itself and the stakeholders we interact with inform what goes into a unit, skill set or qualification or other training product, but there are many mechanisms and phases of consultation along the way to confirm that what the documents describe matches real industry skills needs. TAFEs and other registered training organisations (RTOs) then design their training programs based off the units, skill sets and qualifications.

The work to update or develop units, skill sets and qualifications or other training product is carried out as part of a national project. Key stakeholders with relevant experience are identified and contacted to help develop each draft qualification, skill set, unit or other training product. Broader public consultation then takes place so that all interested parties are able to contribute. Stakeholders at either of these stages can include people with experience working or training in the industry, or from associations, unions, registered training organisations (RTOs) and Government and state/territory departments.

Once the final drafts have been developed Assurance Body, and State and Territory Skills Ministers are also given the chance to raise any issues, with project stakeholders consulted again if required.

If you want to be involved in this work, you are encouraged to do so. All you need is knowledge relevant to the job role or skilled activities described in a particular qualification, skill set or unit and a willingness to share your views with us.

Delivering updated qualifications, skill sets or units

A unit is deleted when the skills, knowledge and/or tasks it describes, are determined to be no longer applicable by those training and working in the industry. If a unit has had low or no enrolments in recent years, it will be investigated as to whether the unit should be deleted. If stakeholders determine that the process or job task described is no longer relevant, the unit will be proposed for deletion. Occasionally a unit can be deleted because it duplicates the skills and knowledge covered by another unit. Companion Volumes assist industry and registered training providers (RTOs) to deliver the units, qualifications and skill sets within a training package.

Companion Volumes include information to help trainers adapt to any new changes in a training package, as well as additional information about the impacts of regulation and licensing implications and workplace health and safety on their training. Whenever a training package is updated as part of a project the associated Companion Volume Implementation Guide is updated to convey this information. Some updates to the training package may require additional Companion Volumes such as User Guides to assist in delivery. Companion volumes are available for download on VETNet.

Changes to a training package can affect the units, skill sets, or qualifications currently being used by RTOs and industry. There are a number of ways to see what has changed in a training package and the units, skill sets, qualifications and other training products within it.

First, search for the training package or individual unit, skill set or qualification you are interested in on the National Training Register training.gov.au.

If you are looking at a training package you will see a ‘Summary’ section at the top of the page and within that a table with the list of releases the training package has had. In the column on the right you can select versions of the training package and use the compare button to see the difference between versions. A training package comparison gives a generic overview of the training products that have been added and removed. For more detailed information about the nature of those changes it is best to use the comparison tool at a unit, skill set or qualification level.

If you want to see changes to a unit, skill set or qualification, first find the training product you wish to view. Then scroll to the middle of the page and find the ‘Content’ heading where you will find a link to compare versions. Clicking the link will take you to a page where you can select from previous releases to compare with the updated one. One selected, press ‘Compare and you will be taken to a highlighted overview of the changes.

If you would prefer more of an overview you can access a detailed mapping table for the training package via the Companion Volume Implementation Guides or a mapping table for the individual training product at the bottom of its associated page on training.gov.au.

Nominal hours refer to the anticipated hours of supervised learning or training deemed necessary to conduct training and assessment for activities associated with a program of study. They are determined by each State/Territory Training Authority. Many states base their nominal hours on the Victorian Purchasing Guide for each training package.

The total nominal hours for a qualification may vary depending on the units of competency selected. Nominal hours are often used as a mechanism to determine funding allocation. 

Contact us

Our team have a wealth of knowledge and experience working in the VET sector and are happy to answer any queries you have. Not sure who to ask? Email [email protected] or call 03 9321 3526 and we will do our best to address your query.