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Business and compliance skills:


Business and compliance skills encompass the broad range of capabilities required to run a successful business, to understand relevant regulatory requirements and to maintain compliance.

Though there are many business skills required to be a successful business leader, key skills may include sound financial and project management skills, the ability to plan, and effectively manage resources. Understanding the regulatory environment in which the industry is operating is also necessary, to ensure that the company adheres to industry standards and rules, follows internal compliance guidelines, and maintains dialogue with regulatory bodies for the industry. 

In 2019/2020 a Supply Chain Skills cross sector project was commissioned by the AISC. Its goal was to examine the implications of major changes underway across, and within, supply chains due to the impact of automation, robotics, big data and other new technologies. The project resulted in ten new skill sets and sixteen units of competency being developed and approved for supply chain skills which are common to a range of industry sectors.

COVID-19 impact

Lockdowns and border closures imposed in efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, compounded by panic buying of some goods, presented numerous challenges in supply chain management, requiring skills in identifying risks. It was also reported by the National Australia Bank (NAB) that some businesses are rethinking ‘just-in-time’ inventory management and are paying suppliers sooner to ensure supply.

In the CEDA webinar The Workplace of the Future, the shift to flexible work and Agile project management are discussed as trends that may enable businesses to grow through the pandemic. This is supported by the National Skills Commission project Emerging Occupations: How New Skills Are Changing Australian Jobs, which identifies Logistics Analysts and Agile Coaches as emerging occupations; demand for these skills may increase due to the response by industries to the pandemic.

Skills in workplace health and safety have also become a priority, with both workers and customers becoming responsible for mitigating the risks of exposure to the virus. Cross-sector infection control skill sets with contextual advice for 10 industry sectors were endorsed in July 2020 to enable current and future employees to upskill in managing these risks.

The Australian, State and Territory governments have recognised small business owners and their employees may need additional support to strengthen their business skills as a result of the pandemic, and have introduced a number of programs through their COVID-19 recovery plans and budgets.

Industry skills needs

Generic skills

In their comprehensive 2019 Skills Forecasts, IRCs ranked a series of 12 generic skills categories, in priority order.

Financial skills (which are a key component of business and compliance skills) received an average ranking of 10th (out of 12) across all skills forecasts.

Priority skills

Business and compliance skills were also identified to a moderately high degree by industries that reported on priority skills in their 2019 Skills Forecasts.


The four broad areas of business and compliance skills identified most frequently were:
  • Regulatory/Legislative/Compliance, identified by the following industry sectors:

    • Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing
    • Gas
    • Transport and Logistics
    • Education
    • Textiles, Clothing and Footwear
  • Health and Safety, identified by the following industry sectors:

    • Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing
    • Gas
    • Aviation
    • Maritime
    • Transport and Logistics
    • Correctional Services
    • ESI Generation
    • Electrotechnology
    • Water
    • Automotive
    • Corrections and Public Safety
    • Dance
    • ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail
    • Financial Services
    • Information and Communications Technology
    • Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure
    • Printing and Graphic Arts
    • Process Manufacturing
    • Rail
  • Risk Management, identified by the following industry sectors:

    • Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing
    • Maritime
  • General business skills (for example, financial, organisational,
    planning, operational), identified by the following industry sectors:

    • Gas
    • Aviation
    • Maritime
    • Transport and Logistics
    • Business services
    • ESI Generation
    • Water
    • Forestry and wood products
    • Furnishing
    • Textiles, Clothing and Footwear


Internet job postings

Internet job vacancy postings that contained requests for business and compliance skills were examined for occupational trends. This includes experience in planning and prioritising tasks, preparing business presentations and organisational skills. The chart below compares the percentage of internet job postings in each occupation (ANZSCO Major Group) that requested business and compliance skills.

Internet job postings that requested business and compliance skills, by occupation (2016-20) 

Source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight™ Real-time Labor Market Information tool.

Business and compliance skills were most often requested for managers and clerical and administrative workers, and were least often requested for machinery operators and drivers, and labourers. Sales workers and professionals also had higher rates of these skills requested.

The following graphic shows examples of occupations where business and compliance skills are highly requested, and some examples of the types of requests employers are making for those in these occupations.

Skills in this area are often more relevant to those working in management positions or who are otherwise asked to input on business project controls and budgets. Many job postings reference the need for experience working within a business environment.

Case study

Transport industry cluster

The Transport industry plays a key role in enabling Australia’s economic activity. Without the capacities and capabilities provided by the Transport industry, no passengers or freight would move. The industry comprises four sectors:

  • Transport and Logistics
  • Maritime
  • Rail
  • Aviation.

Work health and safety, and compliance skills (or a combination of both) were reported in the IRC Skills Forecasts for each of these sectors. These quotes highlight why business and compliance skills have been prioritised in the Transport industry cluster:

New Chain of Responsibility (CoR) regulations are aimed at improving safety. The newly amended CoR laws obligate all supply chain participants to ensure safety measures are implemented to prevent speeding, driver fatigue, and breach of Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). New education and training help meet the compliance requirements. The industry workforce will require skills to think critically and creatively to solve problems and respond to unforeseen situations. (Transport and Logistics IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast)

Emergency towage is an important part of the Maritime industry operations. It is responsible for assisting a vessel that is damaged or in danger of grounding, sinking, or causing environmental hazards. The industry requires a skilled workforce capable of managing and conducting towage operations effectively to meet regulatory requirements. (Maritime IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast)

Safety in the Rail industry is of paramount importance as the industry moves millions of people daily. Harmonising rail safety standards and developing effective national standards and codes of practice are key focus areas to improve industry’s safety and efficiency. The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) has deemed safety of workers and vehicles a key priority in their 2016-17 annual report. ONRSR is also undertaking a project to make informed safety decisions based on risk-based regulatory intelligence and data to improve compliance and mitigate risks. (Rail IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast)

New technologies and the ongoing regulatory changes will require regular revision of the Training Package to ensure a skilled and adaptable workforce. (Aviation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast)

Updated: 04 Mar 2021
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