The National Training System

Decisions about the national training system, including the endorsement of Training Packages, are made by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Ministerial Council with responsibility for skills and training. In the new arrangements for training product development, the Ministerial council is supported by three entities:

  • The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) – a committee of industry leaders from across Australia which will make decisions about what qualifications are needed and when
  • Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) – committees made up of people with experience, skills and knowledge of particular industry sectors which will ensure that Training Packages meet the needs of employers
  • Skills Service Organisations (SSOs) – organisations that support IRCs to develop the Training Packages that industry needs

The development and endorsement process for Training Packages ensures the qualifications, units of competency and assessment requirements are developed to an agreed quality standard and are highly responsive to industry’s existing and future demand for new skills. The following key principles underpin the process:

  • Open and inclusive industry-driven continuous improvement, validation and endorsement of Training Packages
  • Strong and clear key stakeholder roles with critical points of intervention and consultation
  • Highly responsive process capable of meeting industry needs and priorities for new skills
  • IRC responsibility and accountability for the quality and relevance of Training Packages

Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC)

The Australian Industry and Skills Committee was established by the Commonwealth of Australian Governments (COAG) Industry and Skills Council (CISC) in May 2015 to give industry a formal, expanded role in policy direction and decision-making for the vocational education and training sector. The AISC plays a critical role in overseeing the development of training products, ensuring Australian workers are provided with industry-relevant skills that meet the needs of employers.

Members include industry leaders nominated by Commonwealth and state and territory ministers responsible for skills and training; a peak body representative (rotating between the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group); and two ex-officio members (senior government officials).

The functions of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee are to:

  • Advise on the implementation of national training policies
  • Quality assure and approve training packages for implementation
  • Oversee the process for development and approval of accredited training
  • Provide direction on the national vocation education and training (VET) sector research priorities, including the work of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
  • Provide advice to the COAG Industry and Skills Council on training provider and regulator standards
  • Coordinate industry engagement through the COAG Industry and Skills Council meetings
  • Undertake work as directed by the COAG Industry and Skills Council

Industry Reference Committees (IRC)

Industry Reference Committees are the formal point through which industry requirements for skills are considered and defined in Training Packages. IRCs will drive the Training Package development process, and ensure that Training Packages meet the needs of employers. IRCs are composed of individuals and industry members with the experience, skills and knowledge of their particular industry sector. IRCs are supported by independent and professional Service Skills Organisations (SSO), such as AIS, to develop and review Training Packages, and to inform Training Package development priorities. IRCs have a direct relationship with the AISC, and are charged with identifying industry’s skills needs, developing IRC Skills Forecasts and Cases for Change, and providing the sign off on training products before they go to the AISC for consideration.

The IRCs are formed, activated and supported as required to direct SSOs in the review, development and implementation of Training Package content relevant to the industry sectors they cover.

Each IRC will perform the following functions;

  • Gather intelligence for their industry sectors to inform advice on Training Package development and review
  • Direct the work of its SSO in the development of industry proposals, business cases and cases for endorsement
  • Oversight the development and review of Training Packages in line with the requirements of the Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC)
  • Provide sign off for industry proposals, business cases, cases for endorsement and other submissions for consideration by the AISC
  • Direct the work of the SSO in preparing the support materials where funding for additional activities is provided
  • Report to the AISC on progress of its work
  • Promote the use of Vocational Education and Training (VET) in the sectors they represent


What are TACs?

To assist with a Training Package development project, the IRC can establish one or more Technical Advisory Committees (TACs). TACs are made up of people from a specific industry sector with subject matter expertise and assist the IRC with the project by providing technical input to the review and development of training packages.

Participation on TACs is voluntary and there is no remuneration. It represents a part of industry’s ‘in-kind contribution’ to the operation of a robust national VET system.

How is a TAC formed?

An IRC will establish a TAC through a public nomination process, facilitated by AIS.

Make up of a TAC

A TAC may include technical industry experts, industry associations, regulators and training providers and   usually consist of a group of 5 to 15 members.

Members may be drawn from the IRC and the general industry.

Role of a TAC

  • Provide specialist industry subject matter knowledge regarding the project topic to the review and development of Units of Competency, qualifications and Skill Sets
  • Validate the technical content of the Training Packages products
  • Make recommendations to the relevant IRC on the developed products which has the final decision-making authority
  • Assist in identifying and engaging broader industry networks to participate in consultation and/or validation activities during the duration of the project

Offer advice and guidance to assist in informing the direction of the project throughout its duration.

Skills Service Organisations (SSO)

Skills Service Organisations (SSO) are independent, professional service organisations that perform professional enabling activities for all allocated Industry Reference Committees (IRC), facilitating the preparation of business cases, and the development and review of Training Packages to match industry needs. The SSOs enabling activities are to perform the operational and secretariat support role for IRCs to undertake these functions.

Each SSO will undertake activities that include:

  • Facilitate engagement across industry and the training sector
  • Facilitate the development of Training Packages for consideration by their relevant IRCs
  • Provide project management, information management, operational and secretariat support to the IRCs assigned to them
  • Provide technical writing skills to support their IRCs in preparing technical specifications for Training Packages and other products
  • Manage the Training Packages through the endorsement process on behalf of IRCs

Australian Vocational Education and Training

Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector is based on a partnership between governments and industry. VET qualifications are provided by government institutions, called Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions, as well as private institutions. Australian governments (federal and state) provide funding, develop policies, and contribute to regulation and quality assurance of the sector. Industry and employer groups contribute to training policies and priorities, and in developing qualifications that deliver skills to the workforce.

Vocational education and training is provided through a network of eight state and territory governments and the Australian Government, along with industry, public and private training providers. These organisations work together to provide nationally consistent training across Australia. The VET sector is crucial to the Australian economy; both for the development of the national workforce and as a major export industry.

The Department of Education and Training is responsible for national policies and programmes that help Australians access quality and affordable early child care and childhood education, school education, higher education, vocational education and training, international education and research.

Australian Qualifications Framework


The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) establishes the quality of Australian qualifications. The AQF is the national policy for regulated qualifications in the Australian education and training system. It incorporates the quality assured qualifications from each education and training sector into a single comprehensive national qualifications framework.

The AQF was first introduced in 1995 to underpin the national system of qualifications in Australia encompassing higher education, vocational education and training and schools. The objectives of the AQF are to provide a contemporary and flexible framework that:

  • Accommodates the diversity of purposes of Australian education and training now and into the future
  • Contributes to national economic performance by supporting contemporary, relevant and nationally consistent qualification outcomes which build confidence in qualifications
  • Supports the development and maintenance of pathways which provide access to qualifications and assist people to move easily and readily between different education and training sectors and between those sectors and the labour market
  • Supports individuals’ lifelong learning goals by providing the basis for individuals to progress through education and training and gain recognition for their prior learning and experiences
  • Underpins national regulatory and quality assurance arrangements for education and training
  • Supports and enhances the national and international mobility of graduates and workers through increased recognition of the value and comparability of Australian qualifications
  • Enables the alignment of the AQF with international qualifications frameworks

The AQF levels define the relative complexity and depth of achievement and the autonomy required of graduates to demonstrate that achievement. In the AQF there are 10 levels with level 1 having the lowest complexity and AQF level 10 the highest complexity. The levels are defined by criteria expressed as learning outcomes.

AQF qualification type is the nomenclature used in the AQF to describe each discipline-free category of AQF qualifications. Each qualification type is defined by a descriptor expressed as learning outcomes. There are 14 AQF qualification types from across all education and training sectors and each, with the exception of the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education, is located at one of the 10 levels.

The learning outcomes are constructed as the taxonomy of what learners are expected to know, understand and be able to do as a result of learning. They are expressed in terms of the dimensions of knowledge, skills and the application of knowledge and skills. These descriptors, along with the elements, performance criteria and evidence guides in the unit of competency help assessors to gauge a reasonable range and level of performance to expect from a competent learner.

Regulation of Vocational Education and Training

The national standards are used by VET regulators to protect the interests of all students undertaking vocational education and training in Australia. The standards guide nationally consistent, high-quality training and assessment services in the VET system.

The vocational education and training (VET) Quality Framework is aimed at achieving greater national consistency in the way RTOs are registered and monitored and in how standards in the vocational education and training (VET) sector are enforced.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) Quality Framework

The VET Quality Framework comprises:

  • The Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015
  • The Australian Qualifications Framework
  • The Fit and Proper Person Requirements
  • The Financial Viability Risk Assessment Requirements
  • The Data Provision Requirements

National Register of VET is the national register for VET in Australia and contains the authoritative information about Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), Nationally Recognised Training (NRT), and the approved scope of each RTO to deliver Nationally Recognised Training, as required by national and jurisdictional legislation within Australia. NRT consists of:

  • Training Packages
  • Qualifications
  • Units of competency
  • Accredited courses
  • Skill sets

Registered Training Organisations

The Australian Skills Quality Authority promotes quality training so that students, employers and industry have confidence in the Australian training sector. It regulates registered training providers and courses through a risk based approach to ensure training meets the needs of industry and nationally approved quality standards.

A registered training organisation (RTO) in Australia is an organisation providing Vocational Education and Training (VET) to students, resulting in qualifications or statements of attainment that are recognised and accepted by industry and other educational institutions throughout Australia. There are almost 5000 RTOs in Australia, providing training across a wide range of subject areas including traditional trades, advanced technical training, para-professional and professional studies, as well as pre-employment and basic skills programs.

RTOs may be government (state or territory) or privately owned organisations. All RTOs in Australia and the qualifications they are registered to deliver are listed on, the national register of VET. To become registered as an RTO, an organisation must apply to the regulatory body under whose jurisdiction it falls. Depending on the organisation’s main location and the student cohorts to whom it intends to provide training and assessment services, its regulatory body will be:

An RTO may only provide training and assessment services for NRT that are on the scope of registration. Scope of registration means the training products for which an RTO is registered to issue AQF certification documentation. It allows the RTO to:

  • Both provide training delivery and assessment resulting in the issuance of AQF certification documentation by the RTO
  • Provide assessment resulting in the issuance of AQF certification documentation by the RTO

New Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 came into effect on 1 April 2015 and are located on the Australian Government ComLaw website. Information about these standards can be found at the: