The Department conducts extensive economic and labour market research and analysis at an industry and occupational level to determine the State's priority occupations. This work is supplemented by intelligence provided by industry, facilitated through the State Training Board's network of ITCs. These bodies provide strategic advice on occupations that are considered to be experiencing unmet demand or experiencing other non-market related factors, based on research and consultation with industry.
The occupations are compiled into a list, which is cross-referenced against a number of skill shortages and migration-related lists available for the State and also nationally. The complete list is then validated and assessed by the Department, in consultation with each ITC, against a series of indicators which include:
- current and forecast levels of employment growth within the specified occupations;
- average weekly earnings and wages growth;
- average age of existing employees across the occupation in Western Australia;
- the level of turnover of staff within the occupation; and
- current supply of qualifications completed from universities and the vocational education training sector, plus skilled visas granted for migrants to WA.
Based on the analysis and validation of these indicators, occupations are categorised as either highest priority, second highest priority, third tier priority or not a priority on the SPOL.
An occupation listed on the SPOL may be assigned to one of five separate categories that align with issues the occupation faces; such as the skill level and whether there is unmet demand for skilled workers in the occupation.
- State priority 1 – the highest priority occupations. They will generally be of a high skill level (critical occupations), statistically ranked in the top half of occupations and experiencing unmet demand.
- State priority 2A – second-highest level of priority. They will generally be of a high skill level and statistically ranked in the top half of occupations. It is desirable to maintain supply in these occupations, even though these occupations may not be experiencing unmet demand.
- State priority 2B – second-highest level of priority. They are not necessarily occupations of the highest skill level, but they will be statistically ranked in the top half of occupations and are experiencing unmet demand.
- Priority 3 – the third tier of priority representing industry and/or regional-level priority occupations. They tend to be either occupations experiencing unmet demand or highly-skilled occupations. Typically, these occupations are statistically ranked in the lower half of occupations.
- Identified occupation – these refer to occupations where issues have been identified at a business level, however at the current time there is not enough evidence supporting the existence of widespread unmet demand or non-market factors which would see their elevation to a priority status. These occupations are being closely monitored for any evidence that may see them elevated to a priority status in the future.
- Not identified as a priority – these occupations do not currently have any issues identified relating to education, vocational education and training, or migration in Western Australia and are therefore not priorities for training funding or migration.
The following criteria are applied to determine whether an occupation should be considered for the SPOL.
There must be an adequate level of quality information about the occupation in order to assess and validate the needs of the occupation. In practice, this means that the occupation must have a valid Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupation (ANZSCO) code from the Australian Bureau of Statistics at the six-digit level.
High levels of skill
The occupation must have specialised skills that require extended (post-school) learning and preparation time. Occupations that do not require post-school qualifications prior to entry, such as labourers, process workers and kitchen hands, are excluded from the list of eligible occupations.
Clear and open pathways
Because the SPOL is used to determine funding priorities for training in WA, the occupation should have clear education and/or training pathways or qualifications that can be obtained within Australia, and where the skills learnt can be matched to the requirements of the occupation. Where an occupation does not have any educational or vocational education and training qualifications associated with it, it is excluded from the eligibility list. Examples of these include judges, members of Parliament.
The occupation must also operate in the normal labour market; that is, there is a regular recruitment process to fill vacancies and many employers available. Occupations that are highly regulated, or those with tightly controlled recruitment practices with specialist skills, are not eligible for inclusion. Examples of these include defence force personnel, police officers and air traffic controllers.
An occupation will be considered if any disruption in its supply would result in significant impacts more broadly across the industry or the State economy. These impacts may manifest themselves in higher unemployment and/or slower growth due to supply bottlenecks.