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Overview

This page provides information and data on Sustainability which covers a set of cross industry systems and practices.

Sustainability is a broad term used to cover a set of cross industry business and environmental practices, aimed at improving the long-term viability of businesses. While Sustainability is not an industry sector, sustainable business practices are becoming increasingly common place across most industries. Sustainability aims to benefit businesses and the environment by improving productivity and efficiency through embedding sustainable operations, environmental monitoring and technology, and competitive systems and practices. There are many areas a business might achieve sustainability improvements, for example, low cost energy, water-saving devices and behavioural change can have a high impact.

Vocational education and training (VET) is required for Sustainability-related occupations such as:

  • Management and Organisation Analysts
  • Engineering Production Workers.

Nationally recognised training for Sustainability is delivered under the MSS – Sustainability Training Package.

Information sourced from the Sustainability IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and skills forecasts

Employment trends

As Sustainability is not an industry in its own right, there is insufficient data on employment to provide an analysis of employment trends.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were 6,780 program enrolments in Sustainability-related qualifications during 2018, and approximately 2,540 completions. Both program enrolments and completions have decreased significantly between 2015 and 2018. During 2018, the majority of enrolments were at the certificate III and IV levels in Competitive Systems and Practices qualifications (40% and 50% respectively), with the remaining 10% at diploma or higher level. The main intended occupation for the training was Miscellaneous Technicians and Trades Workers.

Nearly 86% of enrolments during 2018 were with private training providers. A further 10% of enrolments were with TAFE institutes and the remaining 4% at universities. All Environmental Monitoring and Technology, and Environmental Management-related training was delivered by TAFE institutes, and all Sustainable Operations-related training was delivered by private training providers. Funding for subjects was split mainly between Commonwealth and state government (63%) and domestic fee for service (30%).

Just over half of the students who enrolled during 2018 were from Victoria (55%), with 17% from Western Australia, and roughly equal proportions from Queensland (10%) and New South Wales (9%).

More than half of all training was delivered in Victoria (55%), followed by Western Australia (17%) and Queensland (11%).

During 2018, there were approximately 690 apprenticeship commencements and just over 520 completions. After increasing between 2010 and 2013, commencements fell sharply during 2014 and continued to decline through until 2016, however 2017 saw an increase on the previous year before declining again in 2018. Completions peaked in 2013, then declined year on year until 2016, with an upturn in numbers during 2017 returning to a decline in 2018. Most apprentices were training towards the intended occupation of Miscellaneous Technicians and Trades Workers. The majority of apprenticeship training activity during 2018 was reported by Victoria (53%) and Western Australia (36%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET students by industry. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Sustainability IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast identified skills to meet emerging technological changes in competitive systems and practices, skills to address emerging job roles in environmental monitoring and technology, and generic skills, such as problem solving, design thinking, leadership, change management and innovation management as priority areas for skill development. The workforce challenges and opportunities driving these new and emerging skill development priorities include:

  • Energy – costs and energy security, and major projects in renewable energy, with New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia adopting long-term objectives for achieving net-zero emissions through energy efficiency and renewable sources
  • The rise of the circular economy – new state and commonwealth government strategies for waste management have prompted an increased focus on circular economy principles and practice
  • Technology changes – primarily influenced by trends around Industry 4.0, changes include automation, monitoring, and digitalisation with a shift from the skills needed for collection to those needed for interpretation, communication and development of new solutions to problems
  • Advanced and sustainable manufacturing – practices manufacturers need to adopt to remain competitive include: new business models to remain competitive involving: design services, the manufacture of superior components and innovative products; bundling products with ongoing services; sustainable manufacturing and the manufacture of sustainable products; global value chains with exposure to new technologies, processes and skills
  • Increasing demand for micro-credentials and modular learning – training that has the potential to address rapidly changing training and skill needs, particularly to support upskilling in competencies that are secondary to the employee's core role.

Supporting those identified by the Sustainability IRC, the Environmental Sustainability Skills Cross-sector Project found the following skills are shared by multiple industry sectors in relation to environmental sustainability:

  • Environmentally sustainable production methods and energy management
  • Natural resource management and waste handling
  • Consumer/market driven environmental sustainability practices.

The skills identified above are quite broad, indicating that sustainability requires a variety of skills and aptitudes. This can be shown through sustainability’s links to innovation. The report Growing the Green Collar Economy discussed innovation as one mechanism to move to a more environmentally sustainable environment. More broadly, incremental innovation is a way to improve resource or process efficiency.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics provides data on skills used by innovating and non-innovating industries. For the 2017–18 financial year (the latest data available), the greatest difference in proportion between innovating and non-innovating businesses using these skills were:

  • Marketing
  • Information technology
  • Financial
  • Business management.

The guide Greening Technical and Vocational Education and Training – A Practical Guide for Institutions aims to improve the understanding of sustainable development and provides suggestions on the implementation of education strategies for sustainability training. It takes a whole of institution approach and provides a step by step process for greening the organisation.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Data on skills for innovation has been sourced from Australian Bureau of Statistics Catalogue 8167.0 – Selected characteristics of Australian Businesses 2015–16, skills data cube, available at http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/8167.02015-16?OpenDocument, viewed December 2017.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • MSS Sustainability Training Package and MSA Manufacturing Training Package
  • Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS20312 - Certificate II in Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS20316 - Certificate II in Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS30312 - Certificate III in Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS30316 - Certificate III in Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS40312 - Certificate IV in Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS40316 - Certificate IV in Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS50312 - Diploma of Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS50316 - Diploma of Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS60312 - Advanced Diploma of Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS60316 - Advanced Diploma of Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS70312 - Graduate Certificate in Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS80312 - Graduate Diploma of Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS80316 - Graduate Certificate in Competitive Systems and Practices
    • MSS80416 - Graduate Diploma of Competitive Systems and Practices
  • Environmental Monitoring and Technology, and Environmental Management
    • MSS40211 - Certificate IV in Environmental Monitoring and Technology
    • MSS40216 - Certificate IV in Environmental Monitoring and Technology
    • MSS40218 - Certificate IV in Environmental Monitoring and Technology
    • MSS50211 - Diploma of Environmental Monitoring and Technology
    • MSS50216 - Diploma of Environmental Monitoring and Technology
    • MSS50218 - Diploma of Environmental Monitoring and Technology
    • MSS70211 - Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management
    • MSS80216 - Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management
    • MSS80218 - Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management
    • MSA50311 - Diploma of Production Management
  • Sustainable Operations
    • MSS40111 - Certificate IV in Sustainable Operations
    • MSS40116 - Certificate IV in Sustainable Operations
    • MSS40118 - Certificate IV in Sustainable Operations
    • MSS50111 - Diploma of Sustainable Operations
    • MSS50112 - Diploma of Sustainable Operations
    • MSS50116 - Diploma of Sustainable Operations
    • MSS50118 - Diploma of Sustainable Operations
    • MSS70111 - Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Operations
    • MSS80116 - Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Operations
    • MSS80118 - Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Operations.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

MSS – Sustainability Training Package and MSA – Manufacturing Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority and generic skills data have been extracted from the Sustainability IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 03 Feb 2020
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