Strategic Industry Forum
22 July 2011
The Strategic Industry Forum is an initiative of the industry training bodies that brings together
Skills Australia, the Chairs of Industry Skills Councils, Chairs of State Training Authorities and Chairs
of peak bodies. The Forum meets 1-2 times a year to discuss important priorities that underpin the
effectiveness of the VET system. Previous forums have discussed:
Strengthening our skills base in uncertain times
Lifting quality in training http://www.skillsaustralia.gov.au/PDFs_RTFs/CommuniqueSIF.pdf
Investing in skills for a more productive future
Aim of 22 July meeting
The Strategic Industry Forum met on 22 July 2011 to discuss how to achieve a more collaborative
approach between governments, industry, peak bodies and training providers to planning for
Skills Australia has defined workforce development as:
Those policies and practices which support people to participate effectively in the workforce and to
develop and apply skills in a workplace context, where learning translates into positive outcomes for
enterprises, the wider community and for individuals throughout their working lives.
Buchanan and Evesson (2008)1 defined planning for workforce development in this way:
it incorporates a focus beyond data collection around standard labour and skill categories (eg
occupation) and seeks to understand the forces driving change and how policy might directly engage
with these forces to develop the workforce in a sustainable way
The forum chose to focus on the topic planning for workforce development because this is an
activity that is happening at national level, at state level, at regional level as well as at the industry
level and at the enterprise level and involves many players. This means there is potential for much
duplication of effort and respondent burden on enterprises. However on the positive side there is
commonality of purpose and opportunity for greater cooperation. It was felt that a more
collaborative approach could ensure that planning for workforce development happens in Australia
in a more integrated, efficient and effective way.
Buchanan, J. and Evesson, J. (2008). Categories, Analysis and Scenarios: Improving skills planning in
contemporary Australia, An issues paper prepared for Skills Australia, Workplace Research Centre, Sydney
Participants heard presentations on the topic by researchers and those involved in planning for
workforce development (see presentations and key insights listed below).
Outcomes of the forum
1. Participants agreed that there has been a significant shift in the policy environment from
training to workforce development, which is a more holistic concept. This shift has major
implications for data gathering and for the policy environment including:
Policy makers need to take account of the both the shift to workforce development thinking
and to demand driven/entitlement policies when considering the data and information
requirements that will be needed to support effective implementation of new policy. For
instance, under a more demand driven system, there is the need for much better data
availability for enterprises and learners which has implications for each State Training
Authority/Board’s client communication strategies and the national training portal.
Skills Australia and Forum Participants to encourage Government to consider/design new skills
policy through a ‘workforce development’ lens.
There are many users of workforce development data for multiple purposes. There is great
potential for collaboration around both gathering and sharing of data to ensure consistent
national approach to workforce development data and information gathering and to
reduce duplication of effort and burden on enterprises. State Training Board chairs and
Industry Skills Council chairs agreed that a good starting point would be to hold
conversations about their respective data and information gathering approaches and usage
to determine if there is an opportunity to reduce duplication and overlap. Such
conversations would include state industry advisory bodies.
Discussions between Chairs of State Training Boards and the Chairs of National Industry Skills
Councils and also between State Training Boards and industry advisory bodies should take place
in each jurisdiction to ensure a consistent approach is take to workforce development data and
to identify how to reduce duplication, and how to work together to gather the data required for
planning for workforce development in the region/cluster/sector. This is necessary in order to
achieve shared agreement on common frameworks.
There is a need to re-evaluate the tools we use, for example, the purpose and usage of ISCs
Environmental Scans should be revisited and their role and contribution as a robust tool in
workforce development planning considered.
In the light of the above recommended action, ISCs to discuss with DEEWR the purpose, use, role
of e-scans in the contemporary context given they were designed originally as a planning tool for
the national training system.
The work by the Ministerial Council to agree on a data repository and protocols for
data sharing is very important and Ministers and their senior officials are urged to
make this a priority. Moreover, the development of the VET data portal could be
extended to provide a workforce development data repository and data sharing
The Ministerial Council on Tertiary Education and Employment Principal Committee for
Workforce Development to discuss data repository and protocols at the next industry forum
2. Scenario planning is a useful way to consider the uncertainties that will impact on the future
and can contribute to the planning for workforce development. An important input to scenario
planning is the planning for workforce development that takes place at the enterprise level
noting that companies consider more than economic projections when doing this sort of
Skills Australia will invite members of the Strategic Industry Forum to participate in the Scenario
Development workshops it is planning to hold in September as part of its scenario planning work
that will underpin the development of the next National Workforce Development Strategy.
The Forum also acknowledged other initiatives that could provide valuable learnings:
Workforce planning in other sectors such as health where a national workforce
development approach is underway;
The labour market priorities and indicators research that Skills Australia is currently
undertaking in conjunction with ISCs, STBs and industry peak bodies. This work will
include analysis of a sample of occupations from the Specialised Occupations List
that require in depth planning.
Countries like Norway which has heavily invested in promoting life-long learning to
build adaptive capacity for a future workforce. Raw workforce development
planning data is used to inform, rather than dictate to, individuals and help
students choose what to study.
The large scale industry surveys conducted for example in the UK - noting,
however, that in Australia the first priority is to consider current approaches, and
identify and remove duplication and overlap.
Other research that could be done:
Evaluation of regional approaches to planning for workforce development to
determine what works, and what doesn’t – the successful ones usually involve
fostering networks that collect and implement their own data.
“Blue sky” research like that undertaken in other countries to consider big picture
future issues (e.g. how many occupations by 2050 will be replaced by robotics)
Evaluation of training models that successfully adapt to policy churn, political and
global environment and support planning for workforce development.
A study of the implementation of an entitlement system and what this means in
terms of workforce development data that is required to support it.
Skills Australia invited Forum participants to consider research that can be supported or
undertaken to further investigate these ideas.
The forum discussions were focused around the presentations and papers that were given on the
day. Copies of each will be available via www.skillsaustralia.gov.au.
Media contact: Rebecca Motter 03 9954 2619 or Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org