CEO Update

The success of Australian businesses, communities, and the national economy, now and into the future, relies on a workforce with world-class skills. Building these skills requires a VET system that is responsive, agile, and forward-thinking. This has been highlighted recently through a range of Government and industry announcements and reports, the latest being the Productivity Commissioner’s interim report released last week on the review of the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development.


AIS is committed to remaining responsive and innovative to skills development.  From logistics and supply chains, to corrections, airport security, battery storage and design, Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) supported by AIS are working to quickly deliver training packages in response to current and arising industry needs.


In addition to our recent efforts in supporting COVID-19 recovery strategies, our work includes responding to skills needs in areas vital to economic development such as intermodal logistics hubs, the rail corridor, and rail warehousing and logistics, where two qualifications and 20 Units of Competency have recently been updated by the Transport and Logistics IRC. This work ensures employees can engage effectively with high levels of task automation and new technologies to deliver industry efficiencies.   


With more than $100 billion committed by government for rail infrastructure projects and upgrades to 2030, the Rail IRC is developing the skills required to ensure these projects are successfully delivered.  Development of four streamed qualifications and a review of 39 Skill Sets and 90 Units has been at the forefront of this work.


Australia has the highest market penetration of residential renewable technology in the world, making speedy development of skills to support this growth vital to our energy future. The ESI Generation and Transmission, Distribution and Rail IRC’s are developing Units of Competency to ensure the workforce has the skills necessary to support the rapidly increasing demand for new energy technologies.


I would also like to mention the work of our business unit, AIS Global, in supporting skills development internationally. This week, AIS Global staff facilitated the second in a series of coaching sessions by the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Transport & Logistics IRC for executives of Vietnam’s pilot Logistics Industry Reference Council (LIRC). Drawing on their experience and position at the forefront of skills development in Australia, Mark McKenzie and Cathi Payne are working with their Vietnamese peers to share key learnings from the important work undertaken in Australia such as skills forecasting and COVID-19 recovery efforts. I’d like to thank both Mark and Cathi for their contributions. AIS Global has also facilitated an online workshop this week to develop an innovative Gender Equality, Diversity and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) Strategy for a Ho Chi Minh City based VET college. The strategy will be released shortly and is an important milestone in the establishment of an industry-led VET system in Vietnam.


Robert Adams



Working groups to address skills, safety and productivity of the rail industry

Three working groups have been formed to improve the productivity and safety of the rail industry, and address key issues facing the sector, including skills development. The three working groups cover skills and labour, interoperability, and harmonising national standards. The leadership of each group includes government and industry representatives.


Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack announced the working groups, which were agreed upon as part of the National Rail Action Plan.


The National Rail Action Plan was agreed upon by state and federal transport ministers as part of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Transport and Infrastructure Council and is implemented by the National Transport Commission. It sets out several actions to support the rail industry’s efforts to undertake workforce planning, address skill shortages and build and operate an expanded rail network.


The action plan aligns well with the Rail Industry Reference Committee’s (IRCs) current review of Rail infrastructure qualifications. Chair of the IRC, Carol Hedrick, said “this project will ensure that the qualifications cover specific skills from entry level through to higher-level technical skills, whilst ensuring that the safety aspects for all operations, including accessing the rail corridor, are up to date.”


The IRC has responded to rail industry concerns about national variability in skills by focusing on Units of Competency, rather than qualifications, to make it easier for operators to address skill shortages across the various state and national infrastructure projects.


Building new skills to grow emerging renewable industries

Emerging renewable industries are driving the need for new technologies, helping Australia compete on the world stage while creating jobs and jumpstarting the economy. AIS is working to support industry sectors to be forward-looking, flexible, and responsive in skills development, as new opportunities and challenges arise.


The success story of renewable energies in Australia is reflected in two reports recently released by the Clean Energy Council (CEC). The Clean Energy at Work report released last week highlights the results of the largest study of current and projected employment in the renewable energy industry in Australia, covering small-scale rooftop solar, large-scale solar and wind, hydro and pumped hydro, battery storage and the associated supply chains. It finds that the renewable energy industry, which currently employs over 25,000 workers, could generate 44,000 jobs by 2025. It also projects 70 per cent of renewable energy jobs could be in rural and regional Australia by 2035.


The second report,  A Clean Recovery, argues that investment in renewable energy and energy storage can assist the national economic recovery effort post COVID-19 by creating thousands of new jobs, empowering consumers, bringing economic activity to regional communities, lowering power prices and creating the smart infrastructure of the future that can cement Australia’s place as a global clean energy superpower.


The ESI Generation and Transmission Distribution and Rail Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) are completing two projects in wind power generation and renewable technologies that provide the necessary skills for the growing number of field operations roles required by Australia’s power generation sector. These projects will help workers acquire technical skills identified as a priority for the renewable energy industry.


In November 2019, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council published Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy, which outlines an adaptive approach equipping Australia to quickly ‘scale-up’ as the hydrogen market grows. It includes a set of nationally co-ordinated actions involving governments, industry, and the community.


A strategic priority for the Gas IRC is to review, update and develop units of competency and qualifications, as hydrogen power becomes increasingly important to the training packages of various industry sectors.


Specific skills gaps have already been identified in relation to handling, distribution, and safety management of hydrogen at the trade level.


AIS is working closely with the Australian Hydrogen Council and initiating industry engagement strategies to identify and document skills needed to harness hydrogen technology.


AIS Global supports diversity in learning and teaching

AIS Global is the business arm of AIS and is undertaking a range of skills and workforce development activities domestically and internationally. One of its current projects is the development of the first-of-its-kind Gender Equality, Diversity and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) strategy for Nguyen Huu Canh College in Ho Chi Minh City. The finalisation of the strategy took an important step last week with the facilitation of an on-line workshop by AIS Global with key stakeholders. The strategy highlights the importance of fostering an inclusive and accessible learning environment where diversity is celebrated, a key priority for the Logistics Industry Reference Council (LIRC).


The strategy outlines four goals focused on encouraging participation of GEDSI populations in vocational training and teaching; building partnerships with organisations that can support the recruitment and work placement of students; improving learning and teaching for GEDSI groups; and attracting and retaining the best diverse talent as students and staff.


Further detail about this project and the work of AIS Global can be found at the new website or by contacting AIS Global General Manager, Leanne Mundy at [email protected]


2020 IRC Skills Forecasts submitted

The 2020 IRC Skills Forecast updates have been submitted to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) for the Maritime, Rail, Transport & Logistics, Corrections, Electrotechnology, Gas, Water, and ESI Transmission Distribution & Rail industries.


The Skills Forecast updates inform the AISC of new industry workforce skills developments or trends to emerge and propose future Training Package development work.


Please note that the Aviation, ESI Generation and Public Safety IRCs have determined not to submit their Skills Forecasts for 2020 due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on skills development priorities in these sectors.


Thank you to all stakeholders who provided a submission or feedback, which helped identify the skills needs of your industry. Your input was invaluable in informing the IRCs on priority areas for skills development.