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Discussion paper

The world of work is changing in ways that make it increasingly difficult for a large proportion of the workforce to gain and maintain consistent employment. More than ever, existing and future workers need to prepare for the changing skills requirements of jobs. With advancements in technology, the skills profiles within jobs, and the jobs themselves, are rapidly evolving, a situation that places huge expectations on national vocational education and training (VET) systems in servicing and responding to the rapidly changing needs of employers, as well as the job aspirations of students.

This is a multifaceted public policy issue: workers need contemporary and relevant skills to gain employment and transferable skills to traverse the labour market and so maintain their employment; employers need a highly capable and adaptable workforce; and governments seek to ensure, by means of coherent public policy and efficient investment, effective relationships between students, training providers and employers.

So how are other nations addressing the issue of ensuring their workforces possess the skills required for the future? What are other countries or regions doing about skills descriptions, analyses and frameworks to accommodate these skills: how are they approaching the challenge of identifying discrete job skills; of building and maintaining a dynamic inventory of such skills; and of assembling these into a well-organised and practical skills taxonomy, one where interrelated skills are classified and integrated? And, practically how is all of this information collated for the betterment of training? Further, how are skills at different levels to be recognised within such skills frameworks, how do clusters or aggregates of such skills relate to any named occupations, and how can training content and qualifications  be responsively adjusted to drive a dynamic training system.

In Australia, standardised occupational skills data for informing training is mainly found in training packages, foundation skills frameworks and in occupational standards in classification systems such as ANZSCO (Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations). These repositories, particularly the latter, have potentially slower information-update cycles and risk being unable to keep abreast of the rapidly changing employment and occupational requirements.

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