Part 1: Introduction

COVID-19 is accelerating workforce change due to the increased digitisation of many parts of the economy, e- commerce, changing business models and a more complex global trading environment.

A wider range of businesses and sectors now have greater incentives to adopt new technologies, update systems, diversify markets, products or services and change working arrangements or delivery models.

As workforces and individuals become more focused on skills development, education and training sectors are under more pressure to meet the growing and changing needs of employers and students. 

Having the right combination of skills will continue to be a competitive advantage for workforces and individuals. However, until now we have lacked a high quality, data driven, publicly available classification of skills for the Australian labour market.

While training packages, industry and private sector organisations have defined specific skill sets, we have lacked a consistent framework to identify and measure skills across the board.

Instead, we generally use education levels, qualifications and occupations as proxies for skill levels. This means we recognise the importance of individual occupations, qualifications and skills, but we have lacked an understanding of how bundles of skills combine within occupations and across the labour market. 

Developing a skills classification was a recommendation of the 2016 CSIRO report, Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce. The Australian Skills Classification, and the Jobs and Data Infrastructure (JEDI) project, were developed in response to the report’s finding that companies, industries, government agencies and regions needed more holistic, fine-grained and dynamic labour market information.

This discussion paper provides context for the Australian Skills Classification and outlines how the NSC developed this new framework and next steps. Part of this context summarises potential pragmatic and strategic use cases, consistent with Australian and international research, policy and practice.

The Australian Skills Classification can assist governments, industries and organisations to align around a common skills framework and develop skills-based approaches to recruitment, education and training, workforce planning and policy development.

By enhancing information and communication about skills, the Classification also creates an opportunity to strengthen labour market alignment. Stakeholder engagement is critical to achieve this goal. Encouraging stakeholders to explore the online interface, download the CSV files, start using the Classification and provide feedback is the purpose of the beta release of the Australian Skills Classification and this discussion paper.