How to know what skills are needed for work - an international exploration of occupational skills information initiatives

March 2017
Estimated publish date
December 2017
Principal researcher(s)
Gitta Siekmann
Research Officer, NCVER
Research sponsor - NCVER / Department of Education, Victoria
Gitta Siekmann 08 8230 8615

Project purpose

Australia’s existing skills frameworks may not be used to their full potential. Other countries and regions (e.g. USA, Europe) are progressing with comprehensive and integrated skills frameworks which provide detailed skills information for curriculum developers, students and job seekers. Ideally such frameworks can be continuously updated with rich data sources available to monitor and forecast skills in demand. Being able to identify skills in high demand will assist state and territory governments in the selection of subsidised skills in VET training. This project will investigate various options to describe occupations better in terms of the skills types and the level of skills proficiency required in order to target training content and relevance.

*This project may be undertaken in two parts. At the conclusion of Part I the research questions for Part II will be refined. Part II will propose the conceptual model of a new Australian skills framework. The proposal of this framework will be undertaken with an advisory panel including all relevant stakeholders which will be involved in the scope and review of the extended project before publication in 2018.

Research questions

In order to investigate how comprehensive occupational and skills profiles can inform training content and training relevance, the following research questions will guide the outcomes of this project which may be undertaken in two parts.

Part I

  • How are international skills frameworks defined?
  • How are these frameworks informed (e.g. by employer/job need) and populated with meaningful and up to date evidence of practical skills?
  • How are dynamic changes in real world skill descriptions driving changes in formal descriptions of occupations (e.g. in Australia the occupational classification system ANZSCO)?
  • How are such skills frameworks used, updated and applied practically and implemented e.g. informed by employers and adopted within VET curricula?

*Depending on the findings of Part I, this project would proceed with a proposal of a new Australian VET focused occupational skills framework, with the following specific research questions (subject to change).

Part II

  • Which relevant dynamic data and intelligence on job skill needs (e.g. job vacancies data) in Australia can be used to continually inform and populate the new skills framework?
  • How would this new framework inform required skills quality, learner competency and flexible employability?
  • In which practical way can this framework be presented to educators and trainers to direct and energise their learning and teaching content?
  • How can this framework be used and evaluated by the Australian Industry Skills Commission (AISC) and Industry Reference Committees (IRC) to help validate and unify their interests?


In Part I, this project will be a desktop analysis and literature review gathering and analysing information pertaining to skills frameworks and applications and data informing them. When commencing Part II the methodological requirements for a framework proposal will be revisited anticipating a greater involvement of stakeholders by surveys and focus groups. In addition some quantitative data analysis will be part of testing the usefulness of real-time skill description and forecast data.