Skills Forecast

This year’s Annual Update to the IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work (Skills Forecast) proposes five key projects for 2020 – 2021 and identifies specific changes to the industry environment.

Thank you to those who provided feedback.

Your feedback was considered to finalise the document that was submitted from the IRC to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC). The information in the Annual Update will be used to update the AISC National Schedule of training package development projects.

Proposed projects are summarised in the grey box below. This year’s Annual Update includes information about employers’ use of training packages and qualifications, barriers to hiring apprentices and trainees, and reasons behind non-completion rates. It also looks at alternative training being delivered, some of which draws on the training package, but is not delivered by registered training organisations.

Feedback was collected between 24 April – 10 May 2020, via the online feedback hub, email and phone.

Click here to download the final document

If you would like to view the draft version that was available for feedback, including any comments made Click here


What is a Skills Forecast?

Skills Forecasts describe industry trends, opportunities and challenges, and identify skills gaps and emerging skills needs. They propose a four year plan for reviewing and developing relevant units, skill sets and qualifications across a training package. They are created once every three years, but are updated annually. The Annual Updates identify any specific changes to the industry environment, and to address current priority issues.

Every year in April, the full Skills Forecast or Annual Update is submitted by the relevant IRC to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC). The AISC advises Commonwealth and State Industry and Skills Ministers on the implementation of national vocational education and training policies, and approves nationally recognised training packages.

The AISC draws on this information to update their AISC National Schedule, and to determine future Training Package Projects. View current projects, that have been approved out of previous Skills Forecasts.


Current Skills Forecast

2019 – 2022 Skills Forecast
(click here to see the draft document that was available for feedback from 15 – 29 April 2019, including any comments made)


Skills Forecasts Archive

2018 – 2021 Skills Forecast

2017 – 2020 Skills Forecast

2016 – 2019 Four Year Work Plan

Please note: IRC Skills Forecasts were previously called Four Year Work Plans.

Proposed Projects

Project 1: Review Qualifications to Attract New Entrants

In forestry regions around the country, school students should be able to access school-based vocational education or apprenticeships that provide a career path into a range of forestry roles. The forest growing, management and harvesting industry is aging, with the highest represented group aged between 53 and 68. Employers are consistent in their message that a high priority for the industry is attracting young people. This project proposes a review of entry level qualifications to support this industry goal, so they can be delivered in a school environment.

Project 2: Review of High-Level Jobs in Forestry

Foresters continue to be an occupation in demand. Australian tertiary education has struggled to play a role in supporting future foresters, with few courses available and low uptake of the Certificate IV and Diploma. Often the gaps are filled through transfer from agricultural specialist areas and many vacancies are filled by foresters from South Africa and New Zealand who need to be trained in the Australian forests’ context. This project proposes a comprehensive analysis of skills and knowledge required by foresters to manage public and private forests. Three high level qualifications for forest management and operations and 52 units of competency would be reviewed to incorporate skills needed by the industry.

Project 3: Safety Mindsets in Remote Operations

Working in remote areas requires a different set of safety skills than operating in a manufacturing site, on a construction site or in another location where medical assistance is only a phone call away. Forest Harvesting and Haulage Contractors work in small teams, sometimes only with two-way radio contact and it is often difficult to access for emergency personnel. This project proposes the development of a skill set and up to two new units of competency for operators, relating to shaping and sustaining safety culture and practices whilst working in remote high-risk operations.

Project 4: Assessment Materials

To support safer work practices in the forest harvesting sector, this project proposes the development of assessment materials for 40 units of competency. Consistent skills standards are particularly important for job roles which are inherently dangerous. These assessment materials will be developed with industry and registered training organisations. They will incorporate, moderate and validate content relating to a broad range of forest types and jurisdictional codes of practice.

Project 5: Responding and Assisting in Bushfires

The frequency and intensity of bushfires in Australia is expected to increase, and fires often burn in plantation and hardwood areas. Harvesting and haulage contractors provide valuable assistance in fire mitigation, firefighting, clean up and clearing operations. Safety of operators is a key concern. To support this, operators need to be effectively trained and ready to respond and assist. It is important that units of competency and qualifications in this sector reflect the need to undertake operations not only in harvesting operations, but also in firefighting and recovery assistance. This project proposes an examination of the roles played by forestry operators responding to and assisting in bushfire situations, to update national qualifications and skills standards with the necessary skills.

Development Process of IRC Skills Forecasts