Skills and workforce development

Strong demand for skilled labour across the Australian economy, especially in the resources, health and community services sectors, have fuelled growing interest in improving approaches to workforce planning. The WRC argues there are two broad approaches to skills planning workforce planning and planning for workforce development. The first concerns making projections about specific labour requirements at some specified time in the future, whilst the second involves understanding the forces driving change and gathering data on how to engage with these. The second approach defines the key goal as creating a workforce with adaptive capacity, and has two defining assumptions:

  • the nature of industries and occupations often change dramatically and in unanticipated ways; and
  • the settings within which work is performed are an important element in the development of skill.

Using this approach, WRC is exploring research questions about the link between skills, workforce and business development and better planning for Australia's future workforce. We have worked with clients to develop international, national and regional approaches to workforce planning, as well as with stakeholders from the agricultural, health, and community services industries to develop workforce planning models for their sector.


Job quality, workforce development, and regional development 2014

Client:  University of Melbourne/Cotton Research and Development Corporation

In collaboration with the University of Melbourne, the WRC is conducting thus research for the Cotton Research and Development Corporation. This project involves working directly with key workforce development stakeholders in the cotton sector to engage them in understanding the workforce development system, and to develop a regionally relevant framework to support networks of employers and stakeholders in improving workforce development. The legacy of this project will be an effective workforce development process to: integrate industry activities in attraction, retention and development to increase their impact; secure greater co-investment by workforce development and employment services that meet mutual needs; better inform the employment services sector about cotton sector needs; and increase farm productivity through higher quality jobs and work that is more attractive to potential entrants, as well as farms with capacity to adopt and adapt innovative techniques and practices.

Development and Trial of Employer Satisfaction Survey 2014

Client:  Commonwealth Department of Education

WRC led the design and pilot of a major national survey, the Pilot Employer Satisfaction Survey, which surveyed the supervisors of graduates from four universities. The survey measured employers' overall satisfaction with university qualifications as well as employers' satisfaction with the general and technical skills of graduates. Overall, the study found very high levels of satisfaction among workplace supervisors with the skills of their graduate employees.

The WRC conducted this project together with research partners ORC International and the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne.

Environmental Scan 2014 2014

Client:  CSHISC - Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council

The 2013 CS&HISC Environmental Scan - prepared with research assistance by the Workplace Research Centre - summarised the challenging context for the community services and health workforce: near insatiable demand for health and community services from the community; changing models of care that give greater emphasis to the role and rights of the client; and reduced growth in public expenditure.

The 2014 Environmental Scan will report on what progress has been made in overcoming these workforce challenges and identify any additional emerging challenges. Key research questions include:

  1. What are the key issues affecting workforce and service demand; and what are the related priorities for the development of the community services and health workforce?
  2. How are the key issues that impact workforce and service demand being addressed?
  3. What is the size, shape and skill-mix of the current community services and health workforce?
  4. How does the size, shape and skill mix of the community services and health workforce need to change in order to respond to the issues/ factors identified?

Mapping the Preventive Health Workforce 2014

Client:  NHMRC Partnership Centre: Systems Perspectives on Preventing Lifestyle-Related Chronic Health Problems

WRC developed and piloted a data collection framework that can be used to map the preventive health workforce - the workforce involved in activities designed to reduce the likelihood that something harmful to health will occur, or to minimise that harm if it does occur. This project applied skill ecosystem and social network analysis approaches to capture the extent and diversity of the workforce and its activities, both within and outside the health sector.

Key findings include that the preventive health workforce is difficult to define, and there is a continuum of involvement in preventive health activities. In particular, organisational and community contexts influence the extent to which preventive health is undertaken by dedicated workers or incorporated into other roles. There can also be constantly evolving partnerships needed to deliver activities, with 'core' preventive health organisations often mobilising and harnessing resources and workforces outside their own organisations.

This project will help inform key work of the NHMRC Partnership Centre: Systems Perspectives on Preventing Lifestyle-Related Chronic Health Problems.

Clinical education: the role and contribution of universities - a scoping study 2014

Client:  Office of Vice Chancellor, University of Sydney

Whether or not Australia's health system can continue to sustain current service and quality levels depends, in large part, on the capacity of educational institutions, the health workforce and professional registration bodies to deliver effective work integrated learning experiences to students.

To explore this, WRC conducted a scoping study to describe the management of clinical placements at the University of Sydney. The research explores the context, structures, operations and characteristics of placements in the health and clinical sciences offered by the University, which currently include: medicine, nursing and midwifery, dentistry, pharmacy, psychology, social work, nutrition and dietetics, physiotherapy, speech pathology, occupational therapy, radiation science, exercise and sports science (exercise physiology), rehabilitation counselling and health sciences.

The study discusses a model for conceptualising placements with features that may be costed, and makes recommendations for sustainable placement development opportunities and barriers in Australia.

Policy advice on the development of the national workforce agenda for the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Workforce 2013

Client:  Department of Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs (FAHCSIA), Safety Taskforce Branch

This project develops a national workforce agenda for the domestic violence and sexual assault workforce, addressing four key issues:

  1. identifying workforce issues impacting on the domestic violence and sexual assault sectors, in particular recruitment and retention (using key informant interviews, analysis of existing workforce data, organisational case studies in practice);
  2. outlining workforce issues at state, territory, and national levels (via a desk-based scan of existing policy and practice and analysis of policy and practice documents);
  3. clarifying priorities for national action and reform (a report which consolidates the findings above, identifies workforce development scenarios, and provides a draft plan clarifying priorities for national action and reform);
  4. recommending options for a possible National Workforce Agenda (via half day workshops with relevant stakeholders).

Framework for collating and analysing Community Services and Health workforce and education data 2013

Client:  CSHISC - Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council

To perform its role effectively, the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (the ISC) needs ready access to industry, workforce and education data that are current, accurate, clearly defined, and consistent. The aim of the project is to provide a data collection framework that assists the ISC to collect ongoing data relevant to its activities, including Industry activity; employees; students and graduates courses, and training providers.
This will be in the form of an interactive spreadsheet tool importing, storing, and analysing principal data categories that can be updated with subsequent data releases. Data sources include collections from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Research (DEEWR).

Manufacturing sector workforce development strategy: scoping paper 2013

Client:  AWPA - Australian Workplace and Productivity Agency

WRC provided advice to inform an issues paper for workforce development in the Australian manufacturing sector.  This firstly involved quantitative analysis of the nature of labour market transitions in the industry, particularly the use of sequence analysis to map transitions. The project also involved extensive documentation of literature on international trends in manufacturing workforces and any policies and programs in place, as well as comparative analysis of international data relating to manufacturing production and workforces.

People in Dairy 2013

Client:  Dairy Australia Ltd.

This report summarises key trends in the dairy workforce between 2006 and 2011. The report draws on Census data released in 2006 (ABS, 2007) and 2011 (ABS, 2012), and focuses on both national trends, as well as regional differences between eight dairy regions. Whilst it is difficult to draw out overarching trends because there is significant inter-regional variation, and the Census data (collected in 2006 and 2011) only provides snapshots around particularly turbulent economic conditions relating to the global financial crisis, the analysis nonetheles.

Model for flexible career pathways into the health professions for existing Aboriginal health staff 2013

Client:  Lowitja Institute

This project was part of a larger national project entitled "Flexible Career Pathways and the Development of a 'New Aboriginal Workforce' in the Health Sector", conducted by the Lowitja Institute. The project aimed to investigate strategies and models that could be implemented nationally and that could bring about opportunities to enable capable Aboriginal people already in the health workforce to transition into the health professions. It was about policies and programs to enable employers and workplaces to be active in identifying, mentoring and supporting the development of their existing Aboriginal staff. The WRC's role was primarily to conduct a comparative analysis of the Aboriginal Health Worker job role. It involved a qualitative evaluation of the workplace-level documentation that defines the content and parameters of Indigenous-identified health positions at the service delivery level. The research sought to examine the construct of Aboriginal Health Worker roles, and associated Indigenous-identified health roles.

E-learning's contribution to workforce development 2013

Client:  National VET E-learning Strategy

This report examines the evolving contribution of e-learning to workforce development and productivity. Building on research undertaken in 2010 to 2011, case studies were conducted of e-learning projects in three industries funded by the National VET E-learning Strategy Industry System Change business activity in 2012-13.

E-learning is found to promote flexible and up-to-date training, and there are significant future opportunities for e-learning due to expanding internet access and mobile technologies (especially for workers such as tradespeople who are not desk-based). Anecdotal evidence of impacts on productivity includes: less disruption to work schedules; deeper learning outcomes; and faster integration of new technology into work processes.

Developing the Authorised Officer Workforce for regulating Australian Education and Care Services 2013

Client:  ACECQA - Australian Children's Education and Quality Authority

WRC assisted the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) to develop the workforce responsible for implementing the National Quality Framework (NQF) for Early Childhood Education and Care. The NQF commenced in 1 January 2012, and established a single national quality assurance framework that ACECQA is responsible for overseeing. The regulatory authorities of the states and territories retain primary responsibility for the approval, monitoring, and quality assessment of education and care services in their jurisdiction.

WRC's role was to advise on a workforce development strategy to assist state and territory authorised officer workforces to implement the NQF. This involved extensive theoretical analysis of capabilities and skills required to undertake quality assurance regulation, research into and comparisons with regulatory approaches in other industries and internationally, as well as analysis of documents and survey data from the Authorised Officers.

Emergency Department Workforce - A Literature Review 2013

Client:  Emergency Care Institute

The aim of the project was to identify key research that can inform the development of the Emergency Department (ED) workforce and synthesise the recommendations for action with available supporting evidence. The project mapped the sources of relevant research and identified significant gaps in the literature. The primary purpose is to help the ECI settle priorities about what issues it needs it to address, and the research involved interested members of the emergency care workforce in the formulation and implementation of future reform initiatives of emergency care services in NSW.

Environmental Scan 2013 2013

Client:  Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council (CSHISC)

The Community Services and Health industry has Australia's largest workforce, and is projected to have continued strong growth. In the context of ambitious government reforms to move the industry towards a client-led model of funding, high demand for care from the community - driven by growing expectations, increasing co-morbidity and an ageing population  and reduced growth expenditure by state and federal governments, this report identifies top priorities for the industry over the next five years. These include:

  • The need to develop new skills to adapt to the client-led model of care;
  • More sustainable workforce development models that make efficient use of higher education and VET- based roles, and which provide more fluid pathways for workers to move between sectors and between VET-based and higher education-based roles;
  • Creating a common pathway of competencies so that workers at all levels and across the industry can respond appropriately to co-morbidity and complex care needs; and
  • Improving and supporting management and leadership capacity in the rapidly changing workforce development environment in order to create the drive for future workforce development and job redesign.

MHCC Clinical Placement Evaluation 2013

Client:  Mental Health Coordinating Council

This report describes recent work undertaken by the Mental Health Coordinating Council and NSW Health Education Training Institute/Sydney Interdisciplinary Training Network to explore pathways to increase and improve quality practice placements in the community managed mental health sector. Pre-professional practice placements in community sector settings are typically 'ad hoc' and there is potential for more structured placements to be scaled up nationally. Establishing relationships between higher education providers and community sector mental health services, the project explored placement options and increase professional entry practice placements opportunities in medicine; nursing; psychology; occupational therapy; social work; dietetics; and, exercise physiology. The Workplace Research Centre also conducted a pilot study to collect baseline data to enable future evaluations.

National Stocktake of Regional Workforce Planning and Regional Development 2013

Client:  WA Department of Training & Workforce Development

This project produces a stocktake of regional workforce planning, regional workforce development planning, and regional workforce development activities. A multi method approach was used, involving interviews with key informants (using a survey instrument), a desktop review of key source documents of each jurisdiction and relevant agencies, coupled with a desktop review of overseas practices. Insights from the stocktake report together with feedback from the Working Group, were used to produce draft Best Practice Principles and a Best Practice Framework for regional workforce planning, workforce development planning and workforce development.

Promotion and use of competency based progression 2012

Client:  Group Training Australia

In conjunction with Dr. Phil Toner at the University of Western Sydney, this project aims to better understand the use of competency based progression in Group Training, and showcase ways in which the Group Training network might better promote the concept of competency based progression. Specifically, the project explores the ways in which Group Training organisations engage with, and apply competency-based progression within practice, and further to this, the reasons underpinning different forms of engagement. The project improved the understanding of the way in which competency-based progression operates in a variety of workplace and sectoral settings.

From Competencies to Capabilities 2012

Client:  University of Melbourne/NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training

The WRC, in conjunction with the LH Martin Institute for Leadership and Management in Higher Education at the University of Melbourne, have examined the viability of creating an intermediate level VET qualification underpinned by the capabilities approach in two vocational streams: agriculture and health care. This stems from the current interest by BVET in a project that will be conducted over a number of years that tests the extent to which the capabilities approach can be used to underpin qualifications, and the extent to which this will help increase VET's effectiveness in supporting workforce development and innovation, and social inclusion. This project is concerned with stage one of the research - analysis and initial engagement with relevant stakeholders.

People in dairy: A regional summary 2012

Client:  Dairy Australia Ltd.

The report synthesises demographic and labour market data relating to the Australian dairy industry. The report provides sub-regional, regional and national level data analysis, and is complemented by a dynamic spreadsheet tool. The research covers issues such as regional variations in demographic variables, labour force participation, incomes, levels of education, and competing industries of employment. The research supplements the scope of the National Dairy Farmer Survey, and informs an annual 'People in Dairy' report produced by Dairy Australia.

Composition of NSW Workforce for Get Healthy Service Engagement Package 2012

Client:  NSW Ministry of Health (as part of a consortium led by Ragg Ahmed)

As part of the National Partnership Agreement on Preventative Health, the NSW Ministry of Health is responsible for implementing the Healthy Workers Initiative which aims to improve the health of adults aged between 35 and 55 who are in paid employment. The Healthy Workers Initiative supports workplaces in NSW to deliver health promotion programs that support behavioural change to prevent lifestyle related chronic diseases. To inform this larger project, the WRC undertook employer, employee and union consultation, as well as workplace case studies, to advise on the composition of, and issues relating to the Get Health Service Engagement package.

Working Indigenous Australians 2012

Client:  Aboriginal Employment Strategy

In an important collaborative partnership, the Workplace Research Centre has worked closely with Aboriginal Employment Strategy Ltd, Generation One and Mission Australia to undertake a review of the current data challenges in the realm of Indigenous labour market analysis. The report scopes the potential for improvements to data collection methods, and considers alternative options for future data collection. Particular focus is placed on the issue of career formation and development, and how the experience of Indigenous workers might be statistically better captured.

Effective mentoring, pastoral care and support for apprentices 2012

Client:  Group Training Australia

Together with Chris Lloyd of Wiyunga Pty. Ltd., the WRC conducted this research to understand and identify effective mentoring strategies within the Group Training realm. The research identified the various types of mentoring and pastoral support, governance and management structures, and whether the mentoring strategies varied in different constituent apprentice groups. The report seeks to develop a set of good practice principles that can be used to inform workplace practice and broader policy approaches to mentoring in the Group Training setting. The methodology involved key informant interviews and focus groups in order to develop a best practice typology.

Understanding the nature of vocations today: Exploring labour market pathways (Working Paper) 2012

Client:  National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)

A research consortium including the Workplace Research Centre, the Centre for the Study of Higher Education (University of Melbourne) and the Education and Policy Leadership Unit (University of Melbourne) is conducting a three year research program into the links between education and work, and the development and use of skills at work. In this working paper, the WRC completed quantitative analysis of HILDA panel data, investigating the labour market transitions of over 6000 Australians over nine years. The research finds a strong incidence of occupational segmentation and very limited mobility.

Engineering Skills Capacity in the Road and Rail Industries 2012

Client:  Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers

This report consolidates results from quantitative mapping of the road and rail industries and in-depth case studies on skill utilisation and acquisition in the rail industry. The aims of the research were to: (a) quantify the supply of engineers in the road and rail industries, and (b) examine in detail engineering job roles and how these relate to each other at the workplace. The analysis focuses on employee attributes that are closely connected to the acquisition and utilisation of engineering skills, including educational attainment, employee age, working hours, wages and job tenure.

The research also involved qualitative case studies at three sites chosen to represent the range of organisations operating at various stages of the project life cycle within rail engineering.

Better Workforce Planning: Reflections on Recent Experiences in Norway, Singapore, The United Kingdom and the United States of America 2011

Client:  DEEWR/Skills Australia

This report seeks to offer definitional clarity around the issue of workforce development and the planning processes on which it typically relies. It considers approaches to data collection for workforce planning in four advanced industrialised nations: the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK), Singapore and Norway. Whilst no international system can be supplanted to Australia, a comparative approach allows elucidation of the origins, preconditions and outcomes typically associated with different models of workforce planning.

Education and Job Match in Australia: Preliminary analysis of the formal educational qualifications held and in use among participants in the Australia at Work study 2011

Client:  DEEWR/Skills Australia

This report presents preliminary results of the 'education-job match' among participants in the Australia at Work study. Data presented report on sample characteristics for highest level of education, field of highest level of education and workers' self-report of their 'qualification-job match'.

The Contribution of E-Learning to Industry Sector Workforce Development 2011

Client:  Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) on behalf of the Australian Flexible Learning framework

This research evaluates the gains that can be made using e-learning in ten industry sectors. It draws on labour market literature and uses a combination of key informant interviews and case studies. The research findings led to a model of the inhibiting and enabling features at individual, workplace and industry levels which can assist or obstruct the use of e-learning in the workplace.

Exploring Knowledge and Skills in NSW Rail 2010

Client:  NSW Ministry of Transport

Evaluating Pre-apprenticeships in Victoria 2010

Client:  Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development

This series of 3 reports researches pre-apprenticeships, with a focus on the Victorian building and construction sectors, and offers a timely evaluation of the effectiveness of pre-apprenticeships in light of the recent increase in Federal Government funding directed towards pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training in the "Kickstart Apprenticeship" program. The final report consolidates findings from interviews with skills councils, trade unions, employer associations and Registered Training Organisations, and concludes with a summary of the key policy issues.

Work, skills and training in the Australian red meat processing sector 2010

Client:  National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)

Work practices, skill use and the nature of the workforce in the Australian red-meat-processing sector have undergone significant change over the last few decades. This report shows that training in the meat-processing sector is now oriented towards on-the-job induction and the learning of single tasks rather than having a trade-based approach (industrial butcher). This has done nothing to prevent the high rates of labour turnover in the sector, but may play a role in helping workers who are entering or re-entering the paid labour force to move onto other areas of the labour market.

Understanding and improving labour mobility: a scoping paper 2010

Client:  National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)

One of the challenges policy-makers face is the lack of systemic analysis around the concept of labour mobility, especially in relation to how mobility is changing and what can be done to improve it. Case studies of the mining, meat processing and early childhood care occupations and analysis of data from the longitudinal survey Australia at work have been undertaken to explore key issues and implications for advancing the labour mobility research field.

Mapping the Engineering Profession: Profiling the engineering workforce, skill utilisation and skill acquisition in road and rail 2010

Client:  Australian National Engineering Taskforce

The Australian National Engineering Taskforce (ANET) commissioned the Workplace Research Centre, in partnership with the National Institute of Labour Studies, Flinders University, to undertake research mapping the current and future engineering profession in the road and rail industries. The aims of the projects were to examine engineering job roles and how these interrelate at the workplace, and to quantify the supply of engineers in road and rail industries. The key research questions guiding the research were:

  1. What does the professional engineering workforce look like today and how has this profile been changing?
  2. How are engineering skills defined and utilised at the workplace?
  3. How are engineering skills acquired The report combined analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data with qualitative case studies.

Environmental Scan 2010 2010

Client:  Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council (CSHISC)

The Environmental Scan 2010 was prepared for the ISC to highlight grassroots industry intelligence about existing and emerging issues in the community services and health field, especially with regards to workforce development. The Scan draws on a wide range of background information and research as well as interviews with industry representative bodies to highlight the key findings and future priorities in the community services and health industries including: workforce changes, policy priorities and the response of VET.

Workforce Diversity- Explaining Perceived risk of work-related injury in the Australian Health & Community Services and Construction Industries 2010

Client:  Curtin University

This paper analyses the perceived risk of workplace injury and illnesses in two Australian industries: Health & Community Services and Construction. The analysis provides a multifaceted picture of the safety environment using a combination of safety perception data and workers compensation data. The research tests for factors that explain perceived risk in these industries and the overall workforce, and explores the implications for developing safety cultures. It addresses the contribution of worker characteristics, job design and social relations of work in explaining perceived risk of workplace injury or illness.

Examination of Workforce Capacity Issues in the Disability Services Workforce: Increasing Workforce Capacity 2010

Client:  CSHISC - Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council

From Preserving to Renovating Australian Apprenticeships: Insights from recent international experiences 2010

Client:  DEEWR/Australian Apprentices Taskforce

Impact Analysis of proposed strengthened AQF 2010

Client:  University of Melbourne

In 2010, the Workplace Research Centre undertook an evaluation of the likely impacts of proposed changes to the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The project sought to unpack complexities associated with the AQF's role within the senior secondary school, vocational education and training, and higher education sectors, as well as its industrial and labour market implications. The project included four case studies across the agricultural, engineering, financial services and healthcare and community services sectors, using stakeholder interviews to draw out the key issues around the use of qualifications in each sector.

Health and community services: the role of wages policy in the evolution of work and skill in the care work sector 2010

Client:  Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council (CSHISC)

This project overviewed a significant body of research of relevance to the Australian Services Union's Pay Equity Application, which primarily related to application for wage increases and an integrated classification structure for disability service and social and community service workers. The research, examined the challenges for skills growth in the community services and health industries. The submission provides background to the industries, before overviewing the research findings, with particular reference to case studies of the mental health and disability services sectors. The report draws out the implications of the research for wages policy. In particular, it highlights the importance of wage equity, classification and associated salary structures and career paths to developing and sustaining the workforce capacity necessary to meet the very considerable demands that are being and will be made of the health and community services industries into the future.

Skills Utilisation - An Overview of Current Approaches to Measurement and Improvement 2010

Client:  Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

This report looks beyond the preoccupation with supply side issues to examine two broad questions for skills policy internationally:
1) How can skills demand and skills utilisation be best measured at the local level?
2) What efforts to improve skills utilisation at the local and regional level have been undertaken in OECD countries in recent times?The project engaged with the international expert community on skills as well as reviewing the international literature and assessing

skills utilisation programs in 30 countries. Key findings arising from this project can be summarised as follows:

  • There are at least four different dimensions to the under-utilisation of workers' skills;
  • Improved approaches to data collection have the potential to drive reform in labour market policy, especially at the local level;
  • Achieving change in employers labour use strategies that is wide-ranging and lasting is difficult.

Mental Health Articulation Research Project Services and Workforce Study 2009

Client:  CSHISC - Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council

A state-based case study approach was used to examine the sector conditions and work level context experienced by trainees, workers and employers. The aim of this analysis was to develop a better approach to articulation between VET and higher education in this sector. Current and future service needs were examined with a view to understanding how articulation between VET and higher education will support supply of appropriately skilled workers both now and in the future.

Environmental Scan 2009 2009

Client:  CSHISC - Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council

This project examined the current market, industry and macro-economic factors influencing the staffing and provision of service in the Community Services and Health sectors in Australia. The conduct of this work included online and face-to-face consultation with key stakeholders in the sector and the analysis of national datasets. It is part of an annual series of environmental scans conducted for the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council.

Understanding vocational education and training, productivity and workforce participation: An issues paper 2009

Client:  NCVER - National Centre for Vocational Education Research

This working paper reports key findings arising from the first year of a three-year project examining, how, if at all, VET can make a difference to improving productivity and workforce participation. The research scrutinises relevant literature and statistics, and conducts a detailed analysis of two industry case studies (early childhood education and meat processing), which were selected specifically to enhance understanding of the relationships between productivity, workforce participation and vocational education and training (VET) as they are played out in real workplace settings.

Education, Work and Economic Renewal 2009

Client:  Australian Education Union

Working with higher education specialist Simon Marginson and VET specialist Leesa Wheelahan on an issues paper for the Australian Education Union, researchers at the WRC explored issues of knowledge, vocation and articulation between VET, higher education and the labour market. The paper considered divergences and convergences between VET and higher education, including general and vocational streams of education and training, and their importance in a dynamic labour market.

Choosing a sustainable future: Workforce Development in Victorian Primary Industries 2009

Client:  Victorian Department of Primary Industries

The Workplace Research Centre was commissioned by Skills Victoria to undertake a study of workforce development in Victorian primary industries. The aims of the project were to establish the key workforce development models operating in the sector and ascertain how sustainable they might be under possible future scenarios. The research was informed by a literature review, statistical analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data, key informant interviews, and in-depth interviews and focus groups with workers and operators in two regional locations. The final report presented three distinct models for workforce development accounting for different locations, sub-sectors and labour pools. The report also detailed recommendations regarding the potential risks and operational principles concerning the nurturing of sustainable skill eco-systems.

Skills for green jobs in Australia 2009

Client:  ILO - International Labour Organisation

Commissioned by the ILO as part of an international cross-country study, researchers at the WRC investigated Australian initiatives relating to the development of 'green skills'. The report considers industries and occupations likely to decline, likely to become 'greener' and likely to be newly created as a result of pressure to move to a lower carbon economy. Industries documented in case studies include cotton farming, plumbing and solar energy provision. The analysis highlighted the prevalence of firm, industry and state based initiatives in the absence of national policy coordination until relatively recently.

Organisation Training Needs Analysis - Evaluation questionnaire and Skills Growth & Recession Model 2008

Client:  CSHISC - Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council

This project included the development of an online workforce development tool, based on the Skills Growth and Recession model jointly developed by the WRC and the CS&HISC, in order to assist in the assessment of organisational capacity or the capacity of organisations to support training under the Productivity Places Program (PPP). The project included an initial stage questionnaire designed to determine the key demographics of PPP applicants, as well as the number and range of training places made available to applicant organisations, whilst the second stage was used as a diagnostic tool to assist organisations in determining their general position in relation to workforce development.

Identifying paths to skill growth or skill recession: Decisions for workforce development in the community services and health industries 2008

Client:  CSHISC - Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council

The Community Services and Health Industries Skills Council commissioned the WRC to research the workforce development challenge faced by the community services and health industries in Australia and overseas. The outcome of the research is a theoretical model that presents what might be described as two 'absolute' or artificial scenarios - one leading toward skill growth, the other leading to skill atrophy, depending on a number of preconditions. This report was included as an appendix to the CHSISC's 2008 Environmental Scan.

What do we mean by workforce planning? Workshop/Paper 2008

Client:  Skills Australia

This paper aimed to explore the principles associated with workforce planning policy at both the government and industry levels. The paper summarised the existing approaches to planning for changing skill requirements in Australia and included an analysis of the methodological and analytical considerations required for informative empirically driven policy making.

Workforce sustainability and leadership 2008

Client:  State Library of Victoria

This was a multi-stage project involving an initial scoping stage that identified the key issues surrounding recruitment and retention of staff, and the development of leadership positions. The second stage of this project involved the conduct of focus groups and two online surveys (one of employees and one of managers) to analyse the current skills, training and staffing of Victorian public libraries. The final stage of the project developed strategic approaches and recommendations for addressing the issues surrounding the ongoing sustainability of the Victorian public library workforce over the next 15 years.

Levering Change in the Civil Infrastructure Industry: A Smart Workplaces Project 2008

Client:  Queensland Department of Employment and Industrial Relations

This report documented characteristics of Queensland 'Smart Workplaces' initiative, which aimed to stimulate the more widespread nurturing and support of 'smart' business practices. In particular, the initiative sought to understand how good business practice relates to positive business outcomes. Based on three initial case studies - two in mid-sized heavy civil construction companies and one in a mid-sized heavy engineering firm - and a second round of case studies with two large businesses, the report identifies specific features of civil construction that promote or prevent smart practice and the levers for change.

'Tell it like it is survey' - Follow-up survey employee attitudinal surveys 2007

Client:  Suzanne Grae

Retailer Suzanne Grae commissioned the WRC to conduct a staff survey throughout the business in order to discern: the changing profile of Suzanne Grae workforce (over three survey periods); experiences of work, as described by employees (workload, hours, communication); employee attitudes to organization (cultural profile); and thus to identify possible issues of concern for the approaching year.

Going with the grain? Skills and Sustainable Business Development 2007

Client:  BVET - NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training

The aim of this project was to provide the NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training (BVET) and the NSW Department of Education and Training with a sound understanding of the existing and potential relationships between skill, energy, innovation and industry policies. Our primary objective has been to generate a range of skills policy options that are located in the context of complimentary energy, innovation and industry policies. In clarifying relationships between these distinct policy areas and identifying options for action we have used a combination of desk based research and the collection of original data through interviews with key informants.

The Queensland Civil Infrastructure Industry - measuring the scale and nature of the current workforce 2007

Client:  Construction Training Queensland

In late 2006, Construction Training Queensland gathered information on planned civil infrastructure projects to be undertaken in Queensland over the next five years. The WRC was commissioned to ascertain with precision what the skills and occupations of the current workforce were, and immediate challenges concerning skills in the industry today. A highly refined survey instrument was devised and the questionnaire was circulated in electronic form throughout the industry. The report draws attention to key issues regarding recruitment and skills shortages.

Workforce Sustainability and Leadership 2006

Client:  State Library of Victoria

As part of a multi-stage project, the State Library of Victoria, in partnership with the Victorian public library network, contracted the Workplace Research Centre to conduct a scoping exercise regarding the sustainability of the public library workforce. The purpose of the research was to identify the key issues surrounding the recruitment and retention of qualified public library staff, and the development for leadership positions. Further research was conducted in 2008.

GTA Labour Market Index 2006

Client:  Group Training Australia

Approximately 15% of all apprentices and trainees in Australia are employed through a group training organisation. That proportion is growing and the Australian group training network, Group Training Australia (GTA) provides an opportunity for the study for a statistically significant segment of the training market. GTA is interested in developing a business index based on data regularly collected by group training organisations (GTOs). WRC thus conducted a staged research project to ascertain if an index was possible and if so how it might be implemented. The research is was conducted in 3 stages: a review of current data collection practices and requirements; development of protocols for improving data collection practices; piloting protocols in a range of GTOs.

From 'skill shortages' to decent work: the role of better skill ecosystems 2006

Client:  NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training

The WRC undertook a major project for the NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training (BVET) on skills and sustainability. The purpose of the project was to investigate the role of skills policy in the transition to a more sustainable economy. The research generated options for skills policy in the context of differing approaches to energy regulation and innovation policy. The main objective was to identify policy mixes that can lead to investment security and employment growth. The project was undertaken jointly with Energy Strategies (a Canberra-based energy policy research organisation) and the Strategic Economics Group (a Sydney-based industry policy research organisation).

REPORT: Not publically Available

Employee engagement, trust and organisational effectiveness 2006

Client:  ASHRR - Australian Senior Human Resources Round Table

This paper presents five case studies in order to illustrate several points about how to improve the level of trust in a workplace. Firstly, the trust concept and why trust is desirable is discussed, distinguishing between three broad definitional categories: cognitive, behavioural and structural. Second, we address the various claims as to the benefits of trust to a workplace, the firm and the wider economy. Third, we tease out the causal links between trust and (desirable) economic outcomes. What does trust do? How does it influence economic outcomes, by what mechanism? Fourth, we present our cases to illustrate our argument made in the second and third sections. Finally, we examine the implications of higher trust for workplace, enterprise and for public policy.

Working conditions in small, medium and large workplaces in NSW: 2006 2006

Client:  NSW Dept of Commerce

The NSW WIRS was conducted during March and April 2006. It consisted of a 20 minute telephone interview with managers in NSW workplaces. Workplaces in agriculture, forestry and fishing and those in public administration were excluded. All workplace sizes were covered. The survey aimed to collect data on a range of issues including:

  • the workforce and workplace profile;
  • methods of setting pay and conditions in the workplace;
  • wages and entitlements of the workforce;
  • information on union membership and industrial relations within the workplace;
  • workforce additions and reductions;
  • profits, labour costs and productivity;
  • various policies in place; and
  • various attitudes held by managers.

Guide to Pay and Conditions Survey 2005

Client:  Victorian Independent Education Union

The aim of this project was to provide the NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training (BVET) and the NSW Department of Education and Training with a sound understanding of the existing and potential relationships between skill, energy, innovation and industry policies. Our primary objective has been to generate a range of skills policy options that are located in the context of complimentary energy, innovation and industry policies. In clarifying relationships between these distinct policy areas and identifying options for action we have used a combination of desk based research and the collection of original data through interviews with key informants.

Not enough work but not enough workers: Casualisation in aged care in Queensland 2005

Client:  Aged Care Queensland/ Queensland Community Services and Health Industries Training Council - Health and Community Services Workforce Council

With the ageing of the population, demand for aged care services is increasing. In recent years growing numbers of organisations providing aged care services have reported difficulties in recruiting and retaining the labour they need. A distinctive feature of the industry is the high incidence of casual employment in many aged care workplaces. The research reported in this paper was commissioned to help answer the question: is casual employment part of the problem or part of the solution to the Queensland aged care industry's labour problems.

"Who would not be a member?" NSW Nurses Association members talk about the current industrial campaign and union issues 2005

Client:  NSW Nurses Association

The WRC was commissioned to survey members' attitudes to a range of industrial issues in the context of key issues and concerns. Results from the research undertaken showed that nurses key understaffing and inadequate skill mixes contribute to chronic problems in the profession and to difficulties in recruiting and retaining nurses in the public hospital system.

Recruitment of labour: Future labour supply for the finance industry in Australia 2005

Client:  Commonwealth Bank

The WRC was commissioned to gauge the possibilities for future labour supply for the finance sector in Australia. The analysis undertaken went beyond aggregate projections of future labour supply to see whether there are possible pools of labour available for recruitment, and to provide profiles of people likely to be seeking work in the near future.