The National Skills Commission (NSC) is a new institution established by the federal government and a key implementation of one of the Joyce Review’s major recommendations.
The NSC is set to become the federal government’s portal for developing intelligence on Australia’s workforce in the VET sector – a sector whose importance has been made abundantly clear during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession, given the economy’s reliance on frontline and essential workers during lockdown and social distancing.
To provide intelligence about VET, the NSC is developing data bases full of information on:
- The VET labour market – identifying the shape of its recovery;
- Workforce changes – determining existing and future skills shortages or surplus;
- Changing skills needs – analysing structural shifts taking place in the labour market; and
- VET course pricing – reassessing supply and demand in VET-delivered training and qualifications to make it responsive to emerging and future skills needs.
The focus of NSC is on long-term improvements across the skills system to develop the skilled workforces that will shape the future of work. In this remit it has an overall aim to be a ‘trusted and independent authority in the skills sector’, focused on long-term improvements across the skills system.
The NSC and ‘Data Science’
Importantly, the NSC is adopting ‘data science’ techniques to develop intelligence for the VET sector; so what is data science? Other than being declared the sexiest job title of the 21st century by Harvard Business Review, data science is about the use of scientific methods to extract knowledge from datasets. Data scientists deploy digital tools including data mining, machine learning and big data.
With the NSC’s adoption of data science techniques, the government has made clear that it recognises the importance of accurate and timely labour market information driven by the benefits of new technology tools. The projects that the NSC carries out hold potential for far-reaching capabilities to provide VET sector stakeholders, policy makers and decision makers with powerful information about jobs, skills and the training needed to develop a thriving future economy.