January 28, 2021

2020 saw so many challenges and great stories of resilience, innovation and compassion – we are even still being polite when we say, “You’re on mute!”

Looking back at 2020, I am very proud of my team’s hard work and resilience in making the forced move to working from home a success. I’m grateful to every single one of them, along with all our various stakeholders and Industry Reference Committees, who have enabled us to continue progressing activity that shape workforce skills.

The workforce skills arena is entering an exciting phase with learnings to take from the past year and various major initiatives including the Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy and the Skills Reform review being carried out.

We need to work together to seize opportunities and harness the conversations about how best to provide industry with correctly skilled workers and how to ensure people have up-to-date, job ready skills for now and the future.

As part of the national COVID response, we worked with the Australian Industry and Skills Committee to create a new skill set: COVID-19 Critical Skills Point of Care Testing (PoCT) in record time. We have also just launched a short course, on Accidental Counselling, to build the skills to support workers finding themselves needing to respond effectively to distressed colleagues and customers during challenging times.

Our Skills Service Organisation team was able to meet all their 2020 targets in progressing Cases for Change and Cases for Endorsement to ensure the manufacturing industry’s vocational skills standards continue to address workforce skills needs.

Late last year, IBSA embarked on an industry imperatives webinar series looking at developing modern manufacturing through a skilled workforce. The series was kicked off by an interactive event with Senator Michaelia Cash, who then introduced the sector-specific sessions that delved deeper into the skills needs for the manufacturing sector and the federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy. Held over ten days, the six webinars were attended by 460 employers and industry representatives nationwide with 35 Industry leaders presenting at the events.

The preliminary findings found the major themes included the importance of national and industry collaboration, digitisation, supply chains and non-technical skills such as project management and critical thinking.

Through the process, we have been able to deepen our engagement with various areas of government, and industry more broadly. An industry leader roundtable will be held early in 2021 to validate the findings regarding skilling Australia’s manufacturing workforce before presenting them to various areas of government and industry.

Oour commercial arm, Australian Training Products,  continues to focus on providing RTOs and learners with up-to-date, engaging print and e-learning resources in the highly popular areas of Business, Hospitality and Training and Education Assessment.

Training organisations and ASQA frequently talk about the challenges they face in ensuring compliant resources. Our ongoing work with the Department of Education and Training to review TAFE’s learning resources has given us further practical insight in this area. As a result, Australian Training Products earlier this month launched a new service, Quality Counts, to deliver objective learning resource assessments.

IBSA will continue to operate as an SSO throughout 2021 to ensure that the system fundamentals of qualification design and industry engagement with the manufacturing sector will be assured. As a long-standing part of the VET sector, IBSA looks forward to continuing to be part of the solution through the skills reform process.

If there is one thing I would like to see in 2021, it is that all stakeholders engage with opportunities to develop workers’ skills and we continue to foster collaboration across every level of government, all industries, each education organisation and individual members of the workforce.

So, bring on 2021, a year of opportunity and advancement of IBSA Group’s vision, to shape workforce skills for the future, that help secure a more resilient economy.

Sharon Robertson

Chief Executive Officer | IBSA Group