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Industry and occupation skills:


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

    While all industries and occupations require skills that are specific to the industry or occupation, around 70% of 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 are technical skills which apply to multiple industries and occupations. The following groups of industry occupation skills and knowledge will be discussed further below:  

    • Occupation and industry-specific skills
    • Cross-industry skills and trades
    • Industry knowledge
    • Understanding and use of technology and equipment
    • General references to 'technical' skills.

    71% of IRC Skills Forecasts identified this skill as a priority

    Industry skills needs

    Industry and occupation-related skills were identified as a priority for industry more than any other skills type.

    To understand the nature of industry and occupation-related skills further, the following sub-categories have been developed.

    Occupation and industry-specific skills

    This refers to the specific skills that IRCs identified that are unique to their industry and occupations. Around 24 IRCs identified approximately 80 occupation or industry specific priority skills. This includes skills like:

    • Cathodic protection and LPG handling in the Gas Supply industry
    • Commercial piloting in the Aviation industry
    • Teaching skills for VET teachers
    • Barbering skills in the Hairdressing industry
    • Irrigation design and management in the Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management
    • Farriery skills in the Animal Care and Management industry
    • Fishing operations in the Aquaculture and Wild Catch industry
    • Log sawing in the Forest and Wood Products industry
    • Bioenergy and co-generation skills in the Pulp and Paper Manufacturing industry
    • Food and beverage fermentation in the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing industry
    • Handling and treating hides and skins in the Meat Processing industry
    • Culinary skills in Cookery and Hospitality.

    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. Around nine IRCs identified approximately 20 cross-industry priority skills and trades. This includes skills like:

    • Welding skills
    • Electrical and electronics skills
    • Plumbing skills
    • Plant and machine operations, required in the Manufacturing, Utilities and Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure industries
    • Engineering and maintenance skills, in the Automotive and Meat Processing industries 
    • Logistics and warehousing.

    Industry 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. The following five IRCs and industry sectors identified industry knowledge as being a priority:

    • Plastics, Rubber and Cablemaking Manufacturing
    • Manufactured Mineral Products
    • Community Pharmacy
    • Printing and Graphic Arts
    • Financial Services.

    Understanding and use of equipment or technology

    This refers to examples where IRCs identify skills that are required to use specific equipment or technology such as:

    • Advanced diagnostic equipment (Automotive sector)
    • Diesel fuel machinery (Automotive sector)
    • Computer Aided Dispatch (Ambulance and Paramedic sector)
    • Automatic Vehicle Location (Ambulance and Paramedic sector)
    • Safe operation of agricultural machinery and technology (Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management)
    • Use of geospatial technologies (Forest and Wood Products).

    General references to 'technical' skills

    A number of IRC Skills Forecasts refer to general ‘technical’ skills, which are relevant to their industry, as being a priority for their industry sector. The following seven IRC Skills Forecasts identify ‘technical’ skills as being a priority for their industry but specific details regarding technical skills required have not been provided:

    • Electrotechnology
    • Gas Supply
    • Maritime
    • Aviation
    • Transport and Logistics
    • Culture and Related Industries
    • Sports and Recreation.

    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

    Food and other product processing and manufacturing industries

    Included in this case study are four IRC industry sectors, all of which identified specific occupation and technical skills as priorities for their workforce:

    Food and Beverage Product Manufacturing

    • Wine production, cellar door sales and cellar operations
    • Product development and food packaging
    • Food and beverage fermentation.

    Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing

    • Pharmaceutical production
    • Good Manufacturing Practice.

    Meat Processing

    • Handling and treating hides and skins
    • Pest control.

    Pulp and Paper Manufacturing

    • Biorefining and nanotechnology skills
    • Bioenergy and co-generation skills
    • Automated processes for recovered paper recycling and
      de-inking pulp skills
    • Specialist skills paper making and pulping operations skills.

    These quotes, sourced from IRC Skills Forecasts, highlight industry and occupation specific skills priortised by these industries:

    The efficient use of black liquor for the generation of heat and electricity is an opportunity for Australia. Cogeneration is increasingly used in the industry to produce steam for the mill (heat boilers) to operate processes. The steam is also used to produce electricity. Cogeneration increases the efficiency of a mill by reducing the consumption of electricity from the grid. Cogeneration of heat offers opportunities to reduce other impacts such as waste disposal costs. (Pulp and Paper Manufacturing IRC Skills Forecast).

    Specialised skills in the handling and treating of hides and skins. Careful handling of hides and skins during the pelt removal, trimming, fleshing and short-term preservation stages is essential for producing a high-quality product. Hides and skins being prepared for export must be intact, clean and free from contamination. (Meat Processing IRC Skills Forecast).

    Food and beverage fermentation. Due to low-cost entry to market and growing demand for functional fermented food and drink products; small home-based and medium-sized businesses have started to appear in greater numbers. Occupational standards are required to support the growth in industry and ensure consistent and safe products are produced. (Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical IRC Skills Forecast).

    Animal Care and Management industry and Racing industry

    Included in this case study are two IRC industry sectors which involve handling animals, Animal Care and Management and the Racing industry. 

    Animal Care and Management identifies the following industry and occupation specific skills as being a priority for their industry:

    • Work safely around animals (infection control)
    • Farriery skills
    • Specialist skills in alternative animal therapies, including animal rehabilitation, physiotherapy and acupuncture
    • Large animal rescue skills
    • Skills in horse education.

    Quotes sourced from the Animal Care and Management IRC Skills Forecast highlight these skills requirements:

    Ability to use a range of mechanisms to minimise the risk of infection in veterinary clinics and rural businesses such as meat processors, saleyards and livestock transporters. Such mechanisms include information platforms provided by animal health surveillance programs, work practice controls, screening services and regulatory requirements for biological hazards.

    Knowledge of and ability to apply large animal rescue techniques in various natural or anthropogenic disasters, emergencies or accidents. Recent increases in bushfires and flood events in urban and rural areas have driven the need for expertise in dealing with large animals, e.g. cattle, horses and sheep. Fire and rescue, veterinary operations, farmers and transporters routinely deal with incidents involving large animals in rural areas. There is a need for industry workers to be properly trained.

    The Racing industry identifies the following industry and occupation specific skills as being a priority for their industry:

    • Integrity and high quality investigation skills for racing stewards
    • Racehorse breeding skills
    • Skills in retraining and retiring Standardbred horses
    • Racetrack maintenance skills
    • Skills in incident management involving horses and greyhounds
    • Skills in assessing ex-racing greyhounds for pet rehoming and foster care delivery
    • Skills for racetrack staff.

    This is supported by these quotes from the Racing IRC Skills Forecast:

    Racehorse breeding skills. Knowledge of pedigrees, animal welfare issues, business management, particularly for operations owned in large partnerships, and the rules and regulations pertaining to the breeding of Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds. Ability to implement procedures for foaling down, equine nutrition and the development of the foal in line with specific standards of Australian breeding requirements to produce the ‘product’ that races for competitions worldwide.

    Skills in retraining and retiring Standardbred and Thoroughbred horses. Ability to assess, retrain and rehome harness racing horses after their racing careers have finished for use in other working environments, breeding or for personal/recreational uses.

    Updated: 29 May 2018
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