IRC Skills Forecast

More than 200,000 workers contribute to the production of Australian food, beverages and pharmaceutical products. They are part of an innovative industry that is constantly adapting its processes and products to meet consumer preferences and needs. The skills of this industry are vital for producing high quality products that are safe to consume.

Thank you to those who provided feedback on the projects proposed for 2021 – 2022 and specific changes to the industry environment that have been identified in this year’s Annual Update to the IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work (Skills Forecast). Feedback was collected from 7 April – 2 May 2021.

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.

The 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 highlights the disruption and unprecedented growth over the last year as industry continues to deal with the impacts of COVID-19, including trade tensions, unprecedented demand for particular products, and increased investment in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

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 25 March – 15 April 2019, including any comments made)

Skills Forecasts Archive

2020 Annual Update to 2019 – 2022 Skills Forecast

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 Schedule of Work


Project 1: Indigenous Food Skills

Indigenous food is a rapidly expanding sector in both local and global markets. Given that only a small proportion of native foods have received food safety certification so far, there is plenty of room for further growth. New job roles are emerging requiring specific skills for working in Indigenous communities and remote locations, harvesting and processing wild food, and exporting products according to strict regulations.

Project 2: Pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practice

Good manufacturing practice (GMP) systems are used by the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry to ensure that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards. Three Pharmaceutical Manufacturing qualifications currently contain GMP units that industry recommends are reviewed and updated so that appropriate training in these critical practices can be accessed, as well as ensuring that each unit aligns with its designated Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) level. In addition, business units within the Certificates III and IV in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing have been superseded and should be replaced with the current versions so that training delivery reflects current practices.

Project 3: Sugar Milling 

Sugar milling qualifications are widely used in sugar mills to develop training and define skills requirements for various roles, but are not formally delivered or assessed by any RTO. Recently, various industry skills standards have changed because of technological advancements and the adoption of practices from other industries. This proposed project is to review current sugar milling qualifications and redesign training options to reflect the skills shared across industry job roles, and to encourage use of sugar milling units within the VET system.

Other projects to be identified to address industry priorities.

Development Process of IRC Skills Forecasts