The skill needs of the Australian economy are ever changing, and keeping up to date with ways in which skills can be improved through training has always been challenging. Ensuring the needs of both industry and workers are accommodated within the vocational education and training (VET) sector has sometimes been a challenge.
The Australian Government has announced that it is introducing Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs) in early 2023 that will operate nationally as a network that is owned and led by industry. They will replace the existing network of 67 Industry Skills Councils and 6 Skills Service Organisations that support the Australian Industry and Skills Committee, and are intended to ensure the VET sector delivers quality training outcomes for employees and employers.
In the preliminary discussions in 2021, the JSCs were to be called Industry Clusters and nine were suggested based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) codes, where grouping is based on business activities. The new JSC program consists of ten councils designed to give industry a stronger strategic voice.
JSCs will connect with Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) in identifying skills and workforce needs, with their functions including workforce planning; training product development, implementation, promotion and monitoring; and industry stewardship. They also have stakeholder engagement responsibilities, facilitating a tripartite leadership model to find solutions to workforce challenges collectively with employer organisations, unions and governments.
Part of the restructure is the establishment of the independent Training Product Assurance function. For the time being this will sit with the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) who will review training products to ensure they meet the requirements of the standards set. They will also provide guidance and support to the JSCs while in their infancy and in the formative stages.
Now that the JSCs have been decided upon, they go into their establishment phase before being operational from January 2023.