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Industry and occupation skills:


Industry and occupation skills refer to specific skills that different IRCs have identified as being a priority for their industry.

While all industries and occupations require skills specific to the industry or occupation, many IRC Skills Forecasts identified specific technical skills which are a high priority. These skills vary from industry to industry — some are specific to the context of a particular industry or occupation, others apply to multiple industries and occupations. The following groups of industry occupation skills and knowledge will be discussed further below:  

  • industry and occupation-specific skills
  • cross-industry skills and trades
  • industry specific knowledge
  • understanding and use of equipment or technology.

Industry skills needs

Industry and occupation-specific skills

This refers to the specific skills IRCs identified as being unique to their industry and occupations. Many IRCs identified industry or occupation-specific priority skills, including (but not limited to) skills like:

  • Air Conditioning/Refrigeration in the Electrotechnology industry
  • Artisanal cheesemaking, Brewing and distilling, and Food and beverage fermentation in the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing industry
  • Bricklaying, Carpentry and Joinery, Solid plastering, Plumbing and Wall and floor tiling in the Construction, Plumbing and Services industry
  • Clothing and textile production skills in the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Supply industry
  • Driving and Piloting across the Transport industry
  • Energy use, management and procurement in the Sustainability industry
  • Firefighting and Search and Rescue in the Public Safety industry
  • Maintenance and servicing of ageing aircraft in the Aerospace industry
  • Medicine, Dentistry, and Psychology in the Health industry
  • Pet grooming and styling skills in the Animal Care and Management industry
  • Race horse breeding, and Greyhound Training in the Racing industry
  • Recycling and de-inking recovered paper in the Pulp and Paper Manufacturing industry
  • Teaching skills and the ability to identify individual learner needs in the Education industry
  • Water treatment and processing in the Water industry.

Please visit industry sector pages for more information on the specific skills for each industry and Industry Reference Committee.   

Cross-industry skills and trades

This refers to specific technical skills that are important across different industries. Several IRCs identified cross-industry priority skills and trades. This includes skills like:

  • Electrical and electronics skills
  • Hygiene and infection control
  • Incident management and emergency response skills
  • Plumbing skills
  • Public safety and security
  • Testing and diagnostics
  • Welding skills.

Industry-specific knowledge

This refers to the specific knowledge that IRCs identified as a priority for their industry. It includes knowledge of materials and products as well as knowledge of the industry sector. Some of the IRCs and industry sectors that identified industry knowledge as being a priority include:
  • Agriculture and Production Horticulture
  • Ambulance and Paramedics
  • Amenity Horticulture, Landscaping, and Conservation and Land Management
  • ESI Generation and ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail
  • Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing
  • Furnishing
  • Printing and Graphic Arts
  • Property Services
  • Pulp and Paper Manufacturing
  • Timber and Wood Processing.

Understanding and use of equipment or technology

This refers to examples where IRCs identify skills required in using specific equipment or technology, such as:
  • Scada programming in the Water industry
  • Irrigation technology in the Agriculture and Production Horticulture industry.

Whether skills are referred to specifically or more generally, it is clear there is a need for technical and occupation-specific skills across all industries.

Case studies

Agriculture and Amenity Horticulture, and Conservation industries

Included in this case study are two distinct industry clusters, both of which identified specific industry and occupation-related skills as priorities for their workforce.

  • Amenity Horticulture and Conservation, which comprises two sectors:
    • Amenity Horticulture and Landscaping
    • Conservation and Land Management

  • Agriculture, which is made up of three sectors:
    • Agribusiness
    • Agricultural Operations and Services
    • Production Horticulture.

The industry and occupation-related skills identified by these industries were:

  • Amenity Horticulture and Conservation:
    • Knowledge of carbon farming
    • Protected horticulture skills
    • Production nurseries skills in integrated pest management, growing media and environmental control
    • Permaculture skills and knowledge
    • Rooftop gardening and green walls
    • Sports turf management.
  • Agriculture:
    • Biosecurity skills
    • Compliance and regulation of medicinal crops
    • Irrigation technology, design and processes
    • Protected horticulture skills
    • Viticulture leadership management.

The following quotes have been sourced from the Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation, and Land Management IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast. These highlight the need for industry and occupation-specific skills (please note that the themes from these quotes are interspersed throughout many of the 2018 IRC Skill Forecasts).

Employers in most workplaces will seek employees with high-level skills, both industry-specific and non-industry specific, to support more demanding job functions. The utilisation of more specialist skills is driven by growing technological developments, and by adoption of new technologies for use in agricultural production systems. Businesses are responding to these opportunities with growing investment in new technology; through strategies for better connectivity with, and service to, domestic and international markets; and through ongoing biosecurity strategies – for example, programs to control invasive species, amongst other innovations. In this context, the workforce needs job-specific skills to support higher efficiency targets, innovations and increasing automation and digitalisation.

Industry and trainers have commented on the structure of the qualifications, indicating that the use of generic units of competency do not provide the necessary skill sets for pest management, soil management and efficient irrigation systems.

Animal Care and Management industry and Racing industries

This case study includes two distinct industry clusters, both of which identified specific industry and occupation-related skills as priorities for their workforce:

  • Animal Care and Management
  • Racing.
The industry and occupation-related skills identified by these industries were:
  • Animal Care and Management:
    • Animal technology skills
    • Animal welfare skills
    • Captive animal conditioning skills
    • Equine dental research skills
    • Management of animal use in human-therapeutic interactions
    • Pet grooming and styling skills
  • Racing:
    • Greyhound training skills
    • Incident management skills (ensuring safety of workers when managing an injured animal)
    • Non-veterinarian alternative therapy treatment skills for Greyhounds
    • Race horse breeding skills
    • Retraining and re-educating ex-racing animals for retirement.

The following quotes have been sourced from the Animal Care and Management IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast. These highlight the need for industry and occupation specific skills:

The workforce needs to improve job-specific skills to support higher efficiency standards, innovations and customer services.

A significant number of the workforce occupies roles specific to the industry, including veterinary nurses and veterinarians, animal attendants and trainers, farriers, equine dental service providers, pet groomers and livestock farmers and farm workers.

A few additional quotes from the Racing IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast highlight in more detail one of their priority skills, which is certainly very specific to the industry, Retraining and re-educating
ex-racing animals, (horses and greyhounds) to be retired and live safely outside of the racing industry:

This is an emerging specialist area/occupation in the horse industry.

The Australian community has high expectations for animal welfare on the retirement of horses. Horses may be retired from racing due to poor performance, illness, injury and behavioural problems…These injured horses are unlikely to be used for further riding or breeding but are expected to be of use in other working environments or for personal/recreational uses.

Racing horses are trained to be highly reactive and the triggers for speed (the leaning forward of the jockey) have led to a death of a student who was assigned to ride a thoroughbred that had not gone through re-education… (The) young student was killed while undertaking training on a retired racehorse that had undergone no retraining. The student’s attempt at saving herself (leaning forward towards the horses neck to hold on) triggered the horse to run faster as this is the position a jockey enters to signal for the horse to gallop at its highest possible speed.

Development of these (occupation specific) skills will ensure that ex-racing horses can be used by the public with increased safety.

This is certainly not a skill set which is broadly required in Australia, however based on the Racing IRC’s Skills Forecast, it is of vital importance for this specific industry.

Updated: 17 Dec 2018
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