Part 1: Introduction

Part 1: Introduction Jessica Abramovic Tue, 03/09/2021 - 10:49

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.

1.1 Context

1.1 Context Jessica Abramovic Tue, 03/09/2021 - 10:50

The Australian Skills Classification complements the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).

Occupation is a broad term for a set of jobs involving similar tasks, while a job refers to a specific position. ANZSCO outlines the tasks performed within an occupation, and the level of education needed for a specific job.

Currently the Classification identifies:

  • 10 core competencies: common skills used in all occupations
  • 1925 specialist tasks: detailed work activities required within a job
  • 88 technology tools: a technology, such as software or hardware, associated with a job. 

This new level of detail about skills can help us to identify change within jobs more quickly. The titles of occupations and qualifications do not always keep pace with change. Some occupations and qualifications might keep the same titles, even as their skills change. Their titles are inexact proxies for skills.

Combined with other data and information, the Classification will also assist us to identify new and emerging jobs more readily, compared to occupational frameworks or training packages with slower update cycles.

The Classification is a practical framework for people to use. Like ANZSCO, the more people use it, the more useful it becomes.

1.2 A pillar of JEDI

1.2 A pillar of JEDI Jessica Abramovic Tue, 03/09/2021 - 10:51

The Classification is a pillar of JEDI, an NSC flagship project. Data from the Classification enables JEDI to compare the skills in one occupation to another. This capacity allows JEDI to work as the data engine behind some Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) job matching tools. 

Better skills identification is only one factor in more efficient job matching, but it can encourage greater skills utilisation and occupational mobility. Research indicates job seekers have higher interview rates when they broaden their job search and include seemingly unrelated jobs that use similar skills. However, data from the Australian Taxation Office reveals that, while pathways into new occupations or industries are possible, most workers tend to transition to similar occupations when moving jobs.

Some DESE tools, including Job Switch, use JEDI to make it easier for job seekers to identify their skills and see how these skills can be transferred to other occupations, potentially with additional training. The information and advice available through these tools will be further refined following feedback on the Classification.  

1.3 A multi-purpose resource for multiple users

1.3 A multi-purpose resource for multiple users Jessica Abramovic Tue, 03/09/2021 - 10:52

The applications and opportunities of the Australian Skills Classification are broader than expanding an individual’s job search results. For example, this resource provides the basis to better map qualifications to jobs and enable existing training courses to be matched to emerging or changing jobs.

Many public and private sector organisations are also taking skill-based approaches to policy, recruitment and training. The NSC is looking to facilitate these approaches by providing a data driven and dynamic classification of skills that is high quality, independent and publicly available free of charge.

It is important to note that the Classification does not duplicate job search tools. The Classification framework alone does not make career recommendations or link to employment vacancies. The interface does not provide advice about skills demand, emerging or declining occupations or labour market trends. But it can do these things when linked with data on job vacancies, skills demand and labour market conditions.

Similarly, the Australian Skills Classification interface does not identify pre-requisite qualifications or credentials for jobs. Nor does it try to classify the knowledge, experience or the broader context in which a job is performed.

As the Classification is a data-driven skills language, it is a practical resource to support communication and decision making by multiple users.

In the longer term, a consistent framework to define and articulate skills needs can create labour market efficiencies, helping to promote choice, opportunity and labour market agility.