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Are skill sets booming? (report) 1.07 MB

Skill sets have become recognised as an important short form of training for the modern world of work. They are seen to have a variety of purposes, including upskilling, compliance and licensing, meeting a defined industry need and as an entry pathway to further training. An analysis of nationally recognised or training package skill sets forms the specific focus of this report. The investigation uses data from the National Register of VET and the National Provider Collection — Total VET Activity.

The report identifies how much training package skill set activity is occurring and where, with the findings indicating that activity is clustered around only a small number of skill sets and a small number of training packages. The next phase of work will examine the extent to which skill set activity (training package and other) may in fact be occurring in those instances where the training is being reported as a subject enrolment (and not attached to any program). This will further our understanding of how much of this activity is occurring.

Key messages:

  • The numbers of skill sets in training packages have grown over time, from 20 in 2008 to a little under 1500 existing skill sets by 2019. These skill sets are much more prevalent in some training packages than others, with over 200 skill sets in the Aeroskills Training Package, and seven current training packages with no skill sets at all.
  • Reported enrolments in training package skill sets have grown from about 58 000 in 2015 to over 96 000 in 2018. The largest skill set in terms of enrolments in 2018 was ‘Responsible service of alcohol’, followed by two ‘Work zone traffic control’ skill sets.
  • Reported enrolments in 2018 were dominated by just a small number of skill sets in a small number of training packages. Many of the skill sets with high numbers of enrolments were compliance-related or safety-related, with some of these being refresher courses.
  • The analysis overall indicates that training package skill sets are not well utilised, with only about 16% of them having any reported enrolments for each of the years 2015 to 2018.
  • It is interesting to observe that, despite the definition of a skill set referring to licensing or regulatory requirements, only four of the 29 units designated by Safe Work Australia as high-risk work licences are incorporated as skill sets in training packages.
  • The vast majority of skill sets were funded through fee-for-service arrangements, with government-funded training only accounting for about 10% of skill set activity in 2018.
  • The data, however, suggest that participation in skill sets can be stimulated through government subsidies, as evidenced by the rise in government-funded activity in 2016, when New South Wales provided significant government funding for training package skill sets.
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