AIS Newsletter April 2021


CEO Update

Vocational education and training play a significant role in ensuring enterprises have a highly skilled workforce with opportunities to upskill and reskill existing workers, as well as prepare new entrants for the world of work. The impact of COVID over the past 12 months has seen technological advancements at a rate never seen before, with some experts suggesting technological change has advanced by at least five years in the past 12 months. Consumer habits and needs have also changed and are continuing to drive the development of new services to meet that demand. Pre-COVID, technology change, or digital transformation, was already advancing quickly meaning jobs were experiencing change. With the advent of what is the double disruption of COVID recovery and accelerating digital transformation, there is an even greater need to ensure we have a workforce with the right skills at the right time. The Australian economy and our global competitiveness will be underpinned by a strong and responsive vocational education and training system.


Fundamental to a strong and responsive vocational education and training system is engagement with industry stakeholders. Industry has a voice in the current arrangements in determining skills needs for their sector, which are delivered through nationally recognised qualifications and skill sets. As with all things, there is always room for improvement to ensure industry have a determinative role in skills development.


The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has recently been undertaking a series of Skills Reform Consultations, which have included seeking submissions and feedback on improving industry engagement. Here at AIS, we’ve looked back on our more than 20 years of experience in supporting and engaging with industry to develop fit for purpose, nationally recognised vocational qualifications and skill sets. We have drawn together what we’ve heard from industry and what we’ve learnt, and have identified 10 key practices that underpin effective engagement. These are outlined in a new white paper that is now available on our website. In summary these 10 key practices are:

  • Build representative networks to multiply and extend reach
  • Enable bipartisanship
  • Ensure transparency
  • Value the different roles industry stakeholders want to play
  • Review and refresh networks regularly
  • Try new approaches to engagement, and keep innovating and improving
  • Draw on experts for leadership and fresh thinking about big ideas
  • Keep learning from international best practice
  • Support Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) with evidence-based intelligence
  • Use the right language.


I encourage all industry stakeholders to continue to have your say about the skills needed to shape Australia’s workforce for now and the future.


Thanks to everyone who participated in the Industry Skills 360 Series webinars in recent weeks. The webinars were held for each of the IRCs we support, with a panel made up of IRC members discussing emerging industry trends and challenges, cross-sector issues, current and future skills needs and proposed qualification development to support the workforce needs of each industry. Thanks to the more than 550 stakeholders who participated in the webinars, contributing your observations and asking questions on a broad range of topics including: technology developments; qualification changes and connections with other sectors; training delivery; and strategies to attract workers to your sector. My personal thanks go the IRC members who participated as panelists in the various webinars. I’m sure the generous contribution of your time, experience and knowledge was greatly appreciated by all of the stakeholders who attended the webinars.


If you missed out on attending a webinar, they are available to view on our Engagement Hub, where you can find more ways to have your say on the identification and development of skills for your industry. You can also find updates on  current training package projects.. As part of our ongoing support of industry engagement, which includes a return to more face to face opportunities, we will continue to provide more webinars at various stages of the skills identification and development cycle. Go to our website to make sure you’ve registered to receive relevant email alerts for your industry sector.


This month’s ‘industry spotlight’ looks at the Gas sector and a new program by Zinfra to support the evolving skills needs of its workers. If you have an interesting workforce development program that you’d like featured, please reach out – we’d love to hear from you.


Finally, welcome to Minister Robert as the new Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business. Our thanks go to Minister Cash for her leadership in vocational skills and we wish her all the best in the new role as Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations.


Paul Walsh



IRC future work program

Combined with the many ongoing stakeholder engagement activities, industry surveys, industry intelligence gathering activities, and research, the recent series of webinars have added to the rich information and intelligence that each Industry Reference Committee (IRC) draws on to inform their decision making on the skills needs for the industry sectors they represent. Each IRC  seeks approval to develop or review qualifications and skill sets go the Australian Industry and Skills Commission (AISC) through the submission of a Case for Change document which outlines their forward work program priorities.


These Cases for Change will shortly be made available for further stakeholder review via our website. If you have signed up for training package updates for your sector you will receive a notification via email. If you haven’t signed up, please visit our website. Your continued input and feedback are important as the Cases for Change are finalised. Following this, they will be submitted to the AISC for their consideration and approval and then project work will commence.


Another mechanism for you to contribute to the review and development of training products is as a subject matter expert on a Technical Advisory Committee. The expertise that stakeholders bring to these committees ensures the success of the projects in delivering fit for purpose qualifications and skills. We encourage your support and you can find details about how to become a member are available via our Engagement Hub.


NCVER Survey

The NCVER, through the Survey of Employers’ Use and Views of the VET System, is keen to find out how you train your staff, and how effective this training is at meeting your skill needs.


New this year are questions about the impact of COVID-19 on the way employers have trained their staff and their future training plans.  Results for this survey will be released in October 2021.


Whether you are large or small, employ or don’t employ staff, your response is important.


More information is available on the NCVER website.


The NCVER will also be celebrating 30 years of its National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’ online in July. AIS CEO, Paul Walsh, will be addressing the conference in a session called ‘Leaving no worker behind, how Australia’s VET system can enable our country to be a world leader in digital transformation’. Register now.


Industry spotlight – building a pipeline of qualified Gas Industry workers

New technological and digital innovations are revolutionising gas industry operations, presenting opportunities as well as challenges for workforce development. The Gas Industry Reference Committee (IRC) is pleased to see the qualifications and competency standards it develops are being used by industry enterprises to meet the skill needs of their workforce.


For Zinfra, a leading field force delivery partner in the industry, skills development and building the capability of the industry is vital across the entire portfolio of work. From small projects that help keep the lights on and gas flowing, to multi- million-dollar infrastructure projects and service contracts – these are changing the nature of energy delivery and are moving Australia toward a low carbon emissions future.


Now, the next generation of Gas Supply Industry workers have commenced a new Upskilling Pathway program at Zinfra, leading to industry-endorsed, national qualifications.


Seventy new and existing gas technicians, from Gas field workers to pipeline operators in Zinfra’s transmission and distribution services divisions, are enrolled in the program. Twenty three employees will complete the trade-equivalent Certificate III in Gas Supply Industry Operations and forty seven workers, who have been identified as potential leaders/supervisors, will complete the Certificate III and/or the Certificate IV in Gas Supply Industry Operations.


The training is being delivered by EnerTrain, a registered training organisation that focuses on the energy industry, both on-site and at a training facility, with a blend of face-to-face and on-line learning and assessment activities.


David Wall, Learning and Development and Technical Training Manager, said “the development of our employees is fundamental to building a successful and sustainable organization and in becoming a trusted partner in energy. We are committed to creating a workplace that’s inclusive, supportive and rewarding. The upskilling program provides everyone in our business the opportunity to gain a nationally recognised qualification that reflects their skills and experience.”


Mr Wall sees the program as a win-win for the business and its employees. “The training leads to a more flexible and mobile workforce and brings improvements in productivity, safety and service performance. Our workers gain the skills and knowledge, including the use of new technologies, they need to perform their job competently, and to pursue leadership and career pathways”.


Image provided by Zinfra.


Continuing our support in Vietnam

Our business arm, AIS Global, continues to support the logistics sector in Vietnam through its support for the Logistics Industry Reference Committee (LIRC). Recently we supported the launch of a new website for the LIRC and finalised a Gender Equality, Diversity and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) Strategy and Action Plan for Nguyen Huu Canh College.


This month we will be running a webinar aimed to raise awareness about supply chain issues and support the LIRC to position itself in a leadership role for logistics in a national vaccine distribution program. The webinar will share lessons learnt from the Australian and international experience with the logistics of COVID-19 vaccine distribution and detail the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations for managing the logistics of a national COVID-19 vaccination program. We are thrilled that Professor Victor Gekara from RMIT will participate as a guest speaker and bring his significant expertise to the conversation.