The Australian vocational education and training (VET) system has established arrangements for industry to provide leadership and general policy direction.

On 11 September 2014, as part of the VET reform process, the Government announced the move to a more contestable model for the development and maintenance of training packages once its contract with Industry Skills Councils (ISCs) came to an end. Following public consultation, the government released its policy document, New arrangements for training product development for Australian industry, on 21 April 2015.

The new model, which came into effect on 1 January 2016, places industry at the centre of training product development to ensure employers, the training sector, graduates and the public are provided with the best possible outcomes at the best possible price and quality. Formal leadership is provided through the operation of the Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC), which is supported by Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) and Skills Service Organisations (SSOs).

Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC)

The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) was established in May 2015 by the COAG Industry and Skills Council (CISC) to give industry a formal, expanded role in policy direction and decision-making for the VET sector. AISC's role includes:

  • advising on VET quality instruments (Provider Standards and Training Package Standards)
  • endorsing training packages including qualifications
  • providing industry input to guide VET research
  • providing industry input to ministerial council and advice on key policy issues.

AISC also: assesses business cases from Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) for training product review; allocate work to Skills Service Organisations (SSOs) and quality assure results; consider need for additional materials to support training products (e.g. companion volumes); and assign new IRCs or re-assign an IRC.

AISC Emergency Response Sub-committee

The AISC Emergency Response Sub-Committee was established on 3 April 2020 to enable short-term and urgent adjustments to qualifications and training package requirements to respond to areas of critical workforce and skills needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The scope of the sub-committee was expanded on 15 May 2020 to enable it to continue its role in fast tracking national training products to meet longer term critical skills needs beyond the COVID-19 to support economic recovery.

Industry Reference Committees (IRCs)

The Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) are the conduit through which industry intelligence is gathered to guide the development and review of training packages. IRCs replaced the former Sector Advisory Committees (SACs). Their role is to ensure that competency standards in training packages meet the needs of employers, workers, training providers, and those wishing to become trainers. IRCs are supported by Skills Service Organisations (SSOs).

Skills Service Organisations (SSOs)

Skills Service Organisations (SSOs) are independent organisations funded by the Commonwealth government to work with the IRCs to develop and maintain training packages. Their key role is to provide assistance with the development and review of training packages and industry forecasts. These forecasts are important in developing training products that meet employer skill needs. The SSOs replace the role played by former Industry Skills Councils (ISCs). There are six SSOs:

Skills Organisations Pilots

Three Skills Organisations Pilots - in the human services care, digital technologies and mining industries - commenced in 2020. These pilots are trialing new ways of working to shape the national training system to be more responsive to the skills needs for industries - from the identification of skills needs, to qualifications development, through to improving the quality of training delivery and assessment. Lessons from the pilots will help inform broader improvements to the national training system and enhance the role and leadership of industry.

National Industry Insights Report

The AISC National Industry Insights Report is a collection of information, data and insights for individual industry sectors that captures industry information about skills, training and employment and the labour market. The resource supports IRCs to ensure the design and development of training packages meets the current and future skills needs of industry.

Industry peak bodies

Industry peak bodies and trade unions provide a voice for their members and represent the interests of industry sectors. Key national peak bodies include:

There are also a number of industry bodies that advise state/territory governments on industry-specific education and training. The National Industry Insights Report website provides a comprehensive listing of industry associations and advisory bodies.

Where to go for more information

How to cite this overview

NCVER (National Centre for Vocational Education Research) 2020, Getting to know VET overview: Industry leadership, VET Knowledge Bank, NCVER, Adelaide, <>.

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