Strategy and Framework Development

A new Corporate Plan

A client needed a new Corporate Plan. The organisation had not revisited its strategy for three years after a hugely unsuccessful previous attempt at direction-setting.

Rod began by having individual discussions with each Executive member to gain their confidence and gather important background information. He then facilitated a series of half-day conversations where the Executive worked through possibilities for the future and their implications.

This was followed by a meeting of the Board where Rod helped members develop key themes that formed the basis for the Corporate Plan.

This approach was highly successful and resulted in a way forward while also gaining the commitment of Executive and Board members.

A workshop to uncover issues and develop ways forward

For another organisation, the task was rather different: to facilitate a workshop containing both the organisation’s representatives, and representatives of all members of a consortium that had been contracted to supply a major service.

For various reasons, the work had completely stalled, and something was needed as a circuit-breaker.

Through Rod’s facilitation at the workshop, the critical issues were uncovered and resolved, and the parties left with clear directions for moving ahead.

A national strategy for government

A government department needed a national strategy in a particular area. Rod and his researchers prepared an Issues Paper based on the available research, conducted a workshop of the best thinkers in the area, and then prepared a paper which the department used as a basis for moving forward.

Understanding the needs of stakeholders

A government department wanted to develop more effective communication strategies with the vocational education and training sector.  We set out to understand the attitudes and values employers and their associations have towards VET, and to understand better how employers and their associations use information to make decisions about skills needs.  Using qualitative and quantitative research with employers, the project team developed a suggested communication approach based on an understanding of those things that inform employers’ decision making, rather than the types of issues that are important to government.

CSWF Framework


Complete Document

Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework

The development of the Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework for the former Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations was an 18 month process, culminating in the development of a new Framework to describe a set of non-technical skills, knowledge and understandings that underpin successful participation in work. The project examined a wide range of recent research about employability skills and generic skills and their development, as well as a range of current approaches to addressing employability and generic skills from Australia and overseas. It also involved consultation with more than 800 people from a broad cross-section of organisations and sectors that have an interest in and potential use for the Framework, including employers, industry peak bodies, and education and training, community and employment services sectors.

School Career Benchmarking Resource

A benchmarking resource for school career development services

This project, commissioned by the Career Industry Council of Australia, involved developing a benchmarking resource for school career development services. The tool has been designed to assist schools to benchmark their services against the features identified as being important in a contemporary school-based career development service. It can be used repeatedly by schools as a quality improvement exercise. The development of the tool was informed by targeted consultation with stakeholders in the sector, a review of the relevant research, and analysis of similar benchmarking and quality improvement resources.

Reviews and Evaluations


High Level Review of Training Packages

Ithaca Group was commissioned by the ANTA Ministerial Council, with Kaye Schofield, to conduct a High Level Review of Training Packages and to look at how they could better meet current and future skill needs. The review also addressed the capacity of the vocational education and training (VET) system to deliver outcomes defined in Training Packages, with a particular focus on teaching and learning, and ways this could be strengthened. This was a large scale review that involved extensive consultations with stakeholders around the nation. The outcomes of the review were unanimously endorsed by all members of the Ministerial Council and have informed a number of policy directions since.

Review of Standards for VET regulation

Review of standards for Vocational Education and Training (VET) regulation

Ithaca Group was commissioned to support the National Skills Standards Council to conduct this large-scale review. We looked at submissions from a wide range of VET stakeholders including Registered Training Organisations, industry bodies (including Industry Skills Councils), government agencies and regulatory bodies, unions, consultants, academics and other individuals to review standards for the regulation of VET. It involved analysis of over one hundred submissions, and synthesis of the responses that they contained to find out the main themes. The review highlighted, among other things, the need for concurrent reforms to other parts of the VET system, particularly clarity and consistency of Training Packages, professional development of VET practitioners and auditors, and funding models that reward quality delivery, in order to improve training quality.

National Skills Standards Council Consultation Paper

National Skills Standards Council Position Paper Consultation

Following on from the review of standards for VET regulation, Ithaca Group was again engaged by the National Skills Standards Council to undertake national consultations on the proposed changes to the standards. In addition to reporting stakeholder views from a series of general and targeted information sessions held in each capital city and a number of regional locations, Ithaca Group was responsible for coordinating and conducting the analysis and reporting stage of the project, which involved the documentation and synthesis of views from nearly two hundred written submissions.

Skills for Sustainability

Skills for Sustainability Professional Development Evaluation

This project was undertaken for the former Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and examined a range of models for professional development, including those currently in use for developing Skills for Sustainability in Australia, in order to determine the most effective models. This was to enable the Department to make decisions about its policy and program responses. In addition to a literature review, the project involved a series of consultations with program managers, developers and participants, as well as those responsible for funding and making decisions about professional development programs.

Education and Training Policy


A Fair Deal

This partnership project between Quay Connection, Ithaca Group, and the Research Forum was commissioned by the NSW Board of Vocational Education and Training (BVET). The ultimate objective of the research was to provide the Board with insights into opportunities for improving recruitment and retention of apprentices in key trades and increasing the proportion of apprentices who complete training and go on to work as qualified tradespeople in their field of expertise. It included qualitative and quantitative research with apprentices and employers and a brief review of relevant research and policy paper, focusing on apprenticeships in traditional and technical trades, and the project did not include traineeships. As a result of this project, BVET achieved – for the first time – a robust and reliable base of data, drawn from a large representative sample of apprentices (1200) and employers (501), to inform its considerations. The paper has resulted in several new policy initiatives.

Analysis of the Australian apprenticeship constructs diagram

Analysis of the Australian Apprenticeships System Construct

Ithaca Group was commissioned by the Australian Department of Industry to analyse the construct of the traditional Australian apprenticeship model and make recommendations about aspects of the construct that might be enhanced to provide a better experience for a wider range of apprentices and employers. We team conducted analysis, consultations with key informants, developed a series of propositions about what works and what doesn’t in the current apprenticeship construct, and tested them in a Think Tank comprising people from a range of industry, training and government agencies. The result was a report that described the key components that make up the current Australian Apprenticeships construct and analysed some of the key issues, challenges, opportunities and barriers the construct creates for stakeholders. The report concluded with some thoughts about where attention might best be focused in order to assist in improving apprentice retention and completion, and maximising the impact of investment in apprenticeships by all players.

Sustainable Approaches to Professional Development

Sustainable approaches to professional development

Ithaca Group worked with the Queensland Department of Education and Training and the Australian Council of Private Education and Training to develop sustainable approaches to professional development that can apply to the whole Queensland VET sector.

These approaches were focused less on products and programs and more on ways of encouraging a commitment to professional development based on an understanding of its contribution to business and professional success. In other words, they were built on a demand rather than supply perspective.


Replicating good practice

Ithaca Group was commissioned to investigate good practice in training people with a disability and Indigenous Australians for work outcomes, and to develop principles for replicating and sustaining good practice more broadly across the sector.

To do this we closely examined a handful of examples of good practice and drew from them generic and replicable characteristics.

Embedding innovation

This project required us to review innovative practice in the VET sector and to research how innovation is encouraged and embedded in other areas. From this investigation we developed some recommendations for encouraging, sustaining and embedding innovation in vocational education and training.

Promoting Articulation

Promoting articulation

For this project we researched the literature on credit transfer and articulation arrangements between the vocational education and higher education sectors. We also spoke with people from institutions that have effective articulation arrangements in place. From this information, we developed a framework that captured the necessary elements of successful collaboration. In another project we tested the practical application of the framework in an initiative between industry, VET and higher education. The framework was further refined and published.