Understanding the SPOL

Understanding the SPOL

The SPOL summary paper outlines the process undertaken to create the list. It includes an explanation of the five categories that are used to assign priority ratings to a particular occupation based on its criticality, evidence of unmet demand, and any relevant non-market factors.

The summary paper also provides an overview of Western Australia’s labour market by occupation groups, and includes the full SPOL listing of occupations.

View the SPOL summary paper (July 2017)

For more information about the process and the data sources used to create the SPOL each year, please refer to the SPOL scope and methodology paper. This paper also provides information about the statistical methodologies and consultations with industry and training councils that form part of the SPOL development process each year.


Frequently asked questions

The following list of frequently asked questions provides more information about the SPOL.

Why do we need a SPOL?

The SPOL is an important tool to inform decisions about how funding for training and workforce development programs is allocated. The SPOL helps to ensure that we are investing in the development of skills and knowledge that match the occupations we need now and into the future.

How is the ‘priority’ of an occupation decided?

To be considered for priority status, one or more of the following conditions must be met:

  • the occupation must be considered critical to the needs of the State;
  • there is significant evidence of unmet demand; that is, where employers have faced difficulties in filling vacancies. This is also known as ‘skill shortages’; or
  • there are other, non-market factors impacting on the occupation, such as changes in regulations and licensing arrangements.

How is the SPOL produced?

The Department conducts extensive economic and labour market research and analysis at an industry and occupational level to determine the State's priority occupations. The major indicators considered 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.

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 their industry sectors.

The complete list is then validated and assessed by the Department, in consultation with each ITC, in order to produce the final SPOL each year.

What do the priority ratings on the SPOL mean?

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.

How are occupations chosen for inclusion on the SPOL?

The following criteria are applied to determine whether an occupation should be considered for the SPOL.

Valid data

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.

Occupational impact

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.

Page last updated December 20, 2017