As part of broad-based skills reforms, the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment, has recently released the Transition Advisory Group Final Advice – New Industry Arrangements for circulation and discussion with our members, networks and stakeholders. Ai Group held a member network meeting to discuss the advice on 1 September.

The new industry engagement arrangements are a response to the need for employers and individuals to access the right skills at the right time if Australia is to grow, compete and thrive in the global economy. The combined influence of COVID-19, automation and digital commerce are changing the way we work and creating gaps between current and future relevant skills as a consequence. A strong national training system will be required to support Australia’s future growth and prosperity in the face of these influences.

Recent stakeholder consultations by the Department have found that the VET system is fragmented and overly complex, making it difficult for employers and learners to navigate, leading to decreasing employer confidence in the system. While employer satisfaction in VET remains strong, it has fallen over the last decade from 86.3 percent in 2009 to 78.8 percent in 2019.(1) Additionally, two in five employers reported difficulty in recruiting during this period highlighting skills and labour shortages across the economy.

The new advice establishes Industry Clusters, with industry engagement occurring at both a Strategic level (in terms of engagement of industry leaders to assemble workforce intelligence and then distil this intelligence to prioritise the development of qualifications and training products) and an Operational Level (where industry practitioners will develop qualification and training products and work cooperatively with Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to identify and implement improvements to ensure delivery also meets employer needs.

One of the challenges of the current system has been the time taken to deliver qualifications. While this issue is not necessarily endemic in the current system, the rapidly changing nature of work in the

decade ahead means that the system must be more responsive to industry need. The proposed reforms seek to address this issue via a close coupling of the strategic industry dialogue on workforce need with the operational development of training standards and products. Effectively, the Cluster Organisations will provide a vehicle for industry to manage the end to end process – from needs identification to skills development and oversight of delivery outcomes.

These system changes are expected to improve the speed to market of qualifications and training product development to better meet evolving industry needs, better align to skills in demand, increasing workforce productivity and delivering more learners into jobs.

If you wish to discuss the new arrangements, please contact the Centre at

1 National Centre for Vocational Education Research, 2019. Employers’ use and views of the VET system 2019. Adelaide: National Centre for Vocational Education Research.