Part 2: The Australian Skills Classification

Part 2: The Australian Skills Classification Jessica Abramovic Tue, 03/09/2021 - 10:53

The Australian Skills Classification currently sets out the key core competencies, specialist tasks and technology tools required for 600 occupations in Australia.

Subsequent versions of the classification are likely to include additional occupations, and update existing ones, with continuous improvement using a combination of stakeholder feedback, review and analytics.

2.1 Core competencies

2.1 Core competencies Jessica Abramovic Tue, 03/09/2021 - 10:53

Core competencies are common to all jobs. The core competencies align to the definitions of foundation skills typically used in the Australian VET system – specifically, the Employability Skills Framework developed by the Australian Skills Quality Authority, with minor differences recommended by education system experts. 

About core competencies 

Currently there are different terms for core competencies, including employability skills, soft skills, foundational skills and transferable skills. 

The Australian Skills Classification provides a consistent language and a way to compare the level of competency rather than proxies like education levels or occupation classifications. 

The Australian Skills Classification uses a 10-point scale to describe the competency required for a core competency within an occupation. Each value has corresponding description to explain what it means. These definitions are general and not specific to occupations. 

Wider applications 

The skills classification offers researchers, governments, industry, education and training sectors a common way to identify, measure, assess or compare core competencies. This can help to focus and align efforts to develop core competencies in high demand. 

The classification of core competencies also makes it possible to consider their role in the development and application of transferable skills. Core competencies are as important to skill transferability as specialist tasks. For example, businesses may need workers with technical skills, but they may not be productive without core competencies such as oral communication, teamwork or problem solving.

2.2 Specialist tasks

2.2 Specialist tasks Jessica Abramovic Tue, 03/09/2021 - 10:55

Specialist tasks describe day to day work within an occupation. While specialist tasks can be transferrable across occupations and sectors, they are not universal -- unlike core competencies. 

About specialist tasks 

Specialist tasks are useful for differentiating occupations. Specialist tasks change more frequently than core competencies, making it possible to identify trends. 
This information adds to our understanding of how jobs may be changing in response to factors including increased digitisation or changing business models. 

Wider applications 

Industry and employers can use the classification of specialist tasks to define critical skills and identify skill gaps that could be met by learning on the job, short courses or accelerated training. 

Governments and education and training sectors can also use this as an additional source of information to identify further opportunities to develop timely and targeted short courses or adapt curriculum. 

2.3 Technology tools

2.3 Technology tools Jessica Abramovic Tue, 03/09/2021 - 10:55

Technology tools are the technologies such as software or hardware required in an occupation.  

The classification of technology tools describes software and equipment types or categories and provides specific packages or products as examples.   

About technology tools 

Common technology tools (such as search engines and email) are featured across most occupations, and these are captured in the core competency of digital engagement. 

The remaining technology tools are highly specialised and occupation-specific (like computer aided design and carbon monoxide analysing equipment).

2.4 Occupation profiles

2.4 Occupation profiles Jessica Abramovic Tue, 03/09/2021 - 10:55

Occupation profiles are a new source of information about jobs and skills, providing detailed and up to date insights not necessarily reflected in aggregate data or broader labour market trends.

About occupation profiles  

These profiles highlight key skills attached to an occupation. Organisational or sector-specific taxonomies often include granular-level profiles. However, fine detail in an economy-wide skills classification emphasises the differences between occupations. 

The Australian Skills Classification has a different purpose – to reveal the connections between occupations at the level of skills. 

This does not mean that occupations with similar skills profiles must be very similar. They might require different knowledge, qualifications, credentials or other qualities not captured by the Australian Skills Classification.  

Instead, occupation profiles reveal that even different occupations can share common and transferable skills. By providing a shared understanding of skills transferability, occupation profiles can make skills more easily transferable in practice. 

Wider applications 

Over time, using this new common language can improve cross-sectoral communication about skill needs and thus improve the coordination of workforce development – in particular, by providing a means to more closely align education and training with the skills needs of employers.   

This new capacity can also bring greater flexibility to the operation of the labour market. By clearly defining transferable skills and skills gaps, occupation profiles can allow for the development of innovative targeted skills initiatives and new career pathways. 

Skills based recruitment 

Broad adoption of this skills classification can have network effects: when one person uses the occupation profiles, it creates value for others. For example: 

  • Employers can develop skills-based advertisements more efficiently, which helps job seekers more clearly understand their skill needs and promote their skills in language employers recognise. 
  • Job seekers can describe their full range of skills, including relevant skills picked up through work experience as well as formal education and training. This can assist employers to consider a wider range of candidates and employ people with the right skill sets.

Potentially this capability may improve job matching and help reduce the time and cost of filling vacancies.

Occupation profiles could also assist employers to identify jobs where it might be appropriate to hire for competencies rather than using higher education levels as proxies for skills. A follow-on effect from this could be the broader social and economic benefits derived from expanding possibilities for job seekers from underrepresented groups to take up occupations or industries they may not otherwise consider.


Occupation profiles can serve as a benchmarking tool – a source of comparison businesses can use to identify differences in what skills they require from someone doing the same job in another business. 

Research and analysis 

Occupation profiles can also contribute to a more informed public debate about how Australian jobs are performed, whether this is changing and what this means for our current and future skills needs at a more detailed and practical level.  

Subsequent releases of the Australian Skills Classification will include emerging occupations. In the future these additional occupation profiles could provide insights into whether new jobs in the Australian labour market involve new skills or simply new combinations of skills.

2.5 Skills clusters

2.5 Skills clusters Jessica Abramovic Tue, 03/09/2021 - 10:56

Skills clusters show clusters of similar specialist tasks. These tasks are broadly transferable – if you can do one task in the cluster, you can do the others. 

About skills clusters 

Skills clusters illustrate a new way of looking at the labour market at a ‘deeper’ level than occupational classifications or qualifications.

This view shows how skills are related and connected to one another and illustrates the transferability of skills across occupations.   

Skills clusters show how skill types are distributed across occupations. In doing so they can provide another perspective on skills gaps. Skills clusters do not measure a skills gap, or provide data, but are a unique way of determining whether an already identified skills gap is similar or quite different from the existing skills supply. This visualisation may provide an additional indicator of whether a skills gap can be met by recruitment or on-the-job training. 

In the longer term, this perspective can enhance the conceptualisation of skills portfolios across the workforce, industry or business and expand our understanding of skills beyond traditional labour market information.

Wider applications 

Visualising common and transferable skills across occupations

For individuals, skills clusters provide a way to plan career pathways around in-demand skills rather than occupations which may change over time. Skills clusters indicate the skills offering broad transition options. That is, they provide a way to visualise the range of occupations that require a skill, similar skills, and transferable skills across the labour market. 

Education and training implications

By revealing the range of occupations requiring a specialist task, skills clusters could inform skills packages and the way education and training providers market their course offerings over the longer-term.

Planning and workforce development

By identifying skills that are required by a range of occupations, and similar skills, skills clusters provide an indication of the potential return on training investments. 
Mapping skills clusters could also inform workforce analysis over time. For example, combining this data with other data and information to understand the existing skills clusters within a region or industry could inform forward strategy to attract new business, develop new products or open new markets.