What does Australia’s skills classification system look like?

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“The Australian Skills Classification systematically sets out the structure of, and relationships between, skills within occupations and across the labour market.” It is the pillar of the NSC’s Jobs and Education Data Infrastructure (JEDI) project.

The National Skills Commission recently released its BETA release discussion paper on the Australian Skills Classification system.

What does this classification system do?

The Australian Skills Classification complements the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). Basically, it “offers a common language of skills, enabling stakeholders to identify and articulate skills using a comprehensive and universal taxonomy.” It’s a living, breathing, dynamic thing, though, and will be expanded and amended during its lifetime based on information from stakeholders and other data. In addition, it:

“identifies common and transferable skills between occupations, and reveals the connections within, and across, occupations at the level of skills.”

It’s built around three elements: (1) core competencies, which are sometimes called ‘soft skills’ or ‘employability skills’, (2) specialist tasks: that is, work activities a person undertakes specific to a job and (3) technology tools “such as software or hardware, used within an occupation.”

The Classification identifies 10 core competencies: common skills used in all occupations, 1925 specialist tasks: detailed work activities required within a job and 88 technology tools, which include a ‘’technology, such as software or hardware, associated with a job.” These are focused on the attributes required for 600 occupations in Australia.

The classification system leads to a series of occupational profiles and skills clusters and better enable job matching “by systematically linking the skills required in one occupation to another.”

But, as a recent TAFE Directors Australia newsletter notes:

“Clearly the missing piece is the education intervention to achieve these specialist and transferable skills – ‘the ASC … does not identify pre-requisite qualifications or credentials for jobs.’ It does leave a question over the place of competencies currently framed in training package policy. With around 17,000 competencies in the VET system does it mean many are marooned or redundant?”

However, the NSC hopes that this classification system will enable workers to identify common and transferable skills, skills gaps and training opportunities and also provide “a more detailed framework to identify critical skills and potential labour market skills gaps.” So, this can help to design new and better targeted training programs. That would be a very good outcome. And, as Jenny Macklin’s Review noted,

“VET should move from providing narrow and specific qualifications towards providing more transferable skills that prepare learners for a constantly changing economy.”

What about skills clusters?

Basically, skills clusters “show how skill types are distributed across occupations.” And that’s important because they can “enhance the conceptualisation of skills portfolios across the workforce, industry or business and expand our understanding of skills beyond traditional labour market information.” They also help to identify and describe common and transferable skills across occupations.

They “provide a way to plan career pathways around in-demand skills rather than occupations which may change over time.” And that’s a good thing.

Want to have a look?

The NSC’s classification system is designed to be a multi-purpose resource for multiple users. You can access the interactive version of this system here. They are also inviting feedback, and maybe you are able to do that here.

What does Australia’s skills classification system look like? | VDC