The ETU protects electrical skills and training

In 2021 the Department of Education, Skills and Employment wanted to split up education and training packages for electrical workers. This would have fragmented skills and qualifications across different ‘clusters’. 

The Department’s plan would have harmed the future electrical workforce, making their skills and qualifications less transferable across different industries. The proposed clusters would have siloed our skills and qualifications, lowered the competency of electrical workers, lowered economic growth in these sectors and potentially threatened the safety of workers and the Australian public.

The ETU campaigned heavily to the coalition government at the time not to split up these training packages for electrical workers across different clusters. Thank you to our members who responded to the call to email their state and federal skills minister about this issue.

In 2022 the Labor Government won the election and the new skills minister put a pause on the Coalition’s plan. The ETU worked extensively with the federal skills minister, with NECA and Master Electricians to keep the electrical skills together in one ‘cluster’.

The Government has now introduced 10 new Jobs and Skills Councils (JSCs) (instead of the ‘clusters’ and followed our advice to keep electrical skills in the same council. The JSCs have union involvement – a stark contrast to the previous system. They bring together employers, unions and governments in a tripartite arrangement to find solutions to skills and workforce challenges. Some JSCs are newly formed, and some are adapted from previous skills services organisations (SSOs). JSCs have more functions than SSOs like stewardship and engaging with the industry as a whole. They are industry-owned and industry-led not-for-profit companies that provide leadership to address skills and workforce challenges for their industry.

JSCs will identify skills and workforce needs for their sectors, map career pathways across education sectors, develop contemporary VET training products, support collaboration between industry and training providers to improve training and assessment practice, and act as a source of intelligence on issues affecting their industries.

The energy-related JSC is called Powering Skills Organisation and the ETU is a founding member and sits on the board. It combines the four energy elated training packages in energy, gas and renewables:

This is a logical solution because the four packages are interlinked and share common skills.

Qualifications reform in the Vet sector

In addition to the new systems established in skills and training, the government is also reforming the qualifications in the VET sector. The purpose of this reform is to make the sector easier to navigate. The ETU is part of the qualification reform design group on behalf of the ACTU and is committed to protecting the integrity of our trades and qualifications as part of this process.

When governments want to reform our skills, qualifications and training in our trades, it is imperative that the Union and its members get involved in the process to protect our trade and ensure the government does not water down our standards in any way. This is how we protect ourselves, our communities and our fellow electrical workers.

Would you like to have your say and get involved in protecting our electrical standards and trades training? Through the ETU/CEPU there are many ways you can get involved. Fill in the form below to register your interest and we’ll get in touch about ways you can help.


This article was publised on 19 December 2023.