Australia’s transition toward a more environmentally sustainable society is being driven by political, economic, social and environmental imperatives. The transition brings challenges for the vocational education and training (VET) system to ensure that the Australian workforce is equipped with the skills required for new, and more sustainable, ways of working.

Under the direction of the Environmental Sustainability Expert Panel, Skills Impact has worked with the Department to source information on usage and occupational outcomes from existing skill standards and qualifications, with a focus on environmental sustainability.

The Panel has identified significant challenges that are inherent to the project:

  • Is addressing environmental sustainability compatible with the current domestic economic model?
  • Does environmental sustainability include identifiable and discrete occupations?
  • Can environmental sustainability skills and knowledge be transferred between industry contexts?
  • Is it possible to develop cross-industry solutions for this topic for the VET system?


The Panel has consulted with all Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) to answer the above questions. The Panel compiled a report of their investigation, including a series of recommendations, and submitted this to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) late in 2019. The project report was considered at the February 2020 meeting of the AISC.

An AISC communique from the Chair Emeritus Professor Tracey Horton AO commended the Panel on their work and outlined the steps to be taken to progress the recommendations 1-10.

The Panel advice is to be distributed to all IRC Chairs for consideration and nominations sought from IRC members to participate in an expanded Panel. The expanded Panel will coordinate future work on environmental sustainability, including considering the findings of the report and progressing priority areas for new training product development.

The expanded Panel will also develop a reporting framework for environmental sustainability skills to be reflected in future IRC Skills Forecasts.

In addition, the AISC has referred Recommendations 11-16 of the Report to the VET Reform Taskforce for consideration in the Skills Organisations pilot co-design process. These recommendations indicate that cross-sector unit development may require specific consideration and possible changes to policy settings to enable their implementation.

Download Environmental Sustainability Expert Panel Report: Advice to the AISC 

Environmental Sustainability Expert Panel

The Environmental Sustainability Expert Panel has been convened by the AISC to provide advice to the AISC on:

  • The extent of industry demand for environmental sustainability skills and appropriate whole-of-system approaches to the development of these skills in the Australian workforce.
  • Strategies for ensuring that stakeholders from existing and emerging industries have input into training product development and reform, including options for ongoing advisory arrangements to inform training system responses to environmental sustainability.
  • Rationalising training products through the development of a plan and processes to enable the progression of recommendations from the 2017 Environmental Sustainability Case for Change in accordance with industry need.

The AISC has appointed Skills Impact to support the work of the panel.


The panel brings together experts from relevant industry sectors.

Ray FogolyanAustralian Building Sustainability Association
Mark GoodsellAustralian Industry Group
Nerida KeltonAustralian Institute of Packaging
Andrew PetersenBusiness Council for Sustainable Development Australia
Cathy PhelpsAgriculture industry

The panel will also draw on input from other sectoral representatives and industry specialists to inform their thinking.


In 2017, environmental sustainability was identified by the AISC as one of eight cross-sector projects to address common skills needs, minimise duplication of units, consolidate existing units and remove units that are no longer being used.

A Project Reference Group supported by Skills Impact worked collaboratively with industry stakeholders to:

  • Compile research on current and future needs for environmental sustainability skills
  • Consult with industry to identify and validate common skills across industry areas
  • Identify training package components (units, skill sets, qualifications) that need to be developed, modified, adapted or removed
  • Produce a Case for Change.

The 2017 Case for Change analysed cross-industry environmental sustainability skill areas, in the light of existing training packages, to identify gaps and areas of duplication. The analysis identified existing sector-specific competencies that could be adapted for use across industries. Analysis also identified opportunities for the development of new cross-industry units of competency, skills sets or qualifications.

Download the 2017 Case for Change

Read more about the 2017 project to develop the Case for change

For further information, please contact us.


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