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Agricultural Operations and Services

Overview

This page provides information and data on Agricultural Operations and Services, which is one component of the Agriculture industry. Industry sub-sectors include:

  • Livestock farming
  • Agricultural support services
  • Agricultural irrigation
  • Agricultural chemicals
  • Agrifood operations.

Nationally recognised training for Agricultural Operations and Services is delivered under the AHC – Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Training Package, which is managed by the Agriculture and Production Horticulture IRC. Qualifications in this sector are varied and include:

  • Agriculture
  • Agri-food operations
  • Rural operations
  • Poultry production
  • Dairy production
  • Pork production
  • Irrigation and irrigation management
  • Shearing
  • Wool clip preparation, handling and classing
  • Permaculture and organic farming
  • Pest management
  • Horse breeding
  • Beekeeping
  • Feedlot operations
  • Rural merchandising and rural machinery operations.

Visit the following pages for information on Production Horticulture, Agribusiness, Animal Care and Management, and Food Production, Transport, Retail, and Hospitality industries.  

Information sourced from the Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

In 2019 there were approximately 301,100 people employed in the following Agricultural sectors: Agriculture (not further defined), Mushroom and Vegetable Growing, Fruit and Tree Nut Growing, Sheep, Beef Cattle and Grain Farming, Other Crop Growing, Dairy Cattle Farming, Poultry Farming, Deer Farming, Other Livestock Farming, and Agriculture and Fishing Support Services. 

Sheep, Beef Cattle and Grain Farming is the largest sector with approximately 50% of employment. Overall, employment in the Agricultural sectors increased from 2018 to 2019. Mushroom and Vegetable Growing, Sheep, Beef Cattle and Grain Farming, Other Livestock Farming, Agriculture and Fishing Support Services and Deer Farming showed increases between 2018 and 2019 while all others decreased. The largest increase was in Sheep, Beef Cattle and Grain Farming (up 31,400 from 2018).

The sectors which are projected to experience an increase in employment between 2019 and 2024 are Fruit and Tree Nut Growing, Other Crop Growing, Dairy Cattle Farming, Poultry Farming, Other Livestock Farming and Agriculture (not further defined).

Livestock Farmers make up the largest proportion of workers in the sector (27%) but this occupation is projected to decline by around 1% by 2024.

Crop Farmers and Crop Farm Workers make up around 23% of the Agriculture workforce and these two occupations are projected to decline by 2024 (1% and 3% respectively).

Training trends

Training snapshot

In 2018 there were more than 20,920 program enrolments; a considerable drop on the previous three years. In addition, there were approximately 6,080 program completions which is also a decrease on the previous three years.

Around 48% of program enrolments were at the certificate II level, followed by around 37% at certificate III level. Over half of program enrolments were in agriculture qualifications (52%) followed by rural operations qualifications (29%).

Agricultural operations and services qualifications lead to a wide range of intended occupations from Apiarist through to Wool Handler. The four largest, however, are Mixed Crop and Livestock Farm Worker with a third of program enrolments (33%), Farm, Forestry and Garden Workers with also a third of the enrolments (33%), Stock and Station Agent (13%) and Farmers and Farm Managers with 6% of program enrolments. 

The largest single proportion of training is delivered by TAFE institutes (38%), followed by private providers (29%) and schools (22%). A whopping 89% percent of subjects for the training were government-funded.

In 2018, the largest proportion of students were located in Queensland (26%), followed by New South Wales (22%) and Victoria (21%).

The majority of training was delivered in Queensland (26%), New South Wales (24%) and Victoria (23%).

Apprentice and trainee commencements and completions decreased in 2018 and were at the lowest level since 2010. The main destination occupations for apprentices and trainees in 2018 were Farm, Forestry and Garden Workers. About 29% of apprenticeships and traineeships were reported in Victoria, with a further 19% in both Queensland and New South Wales.   

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET students by industry. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

Analysis of priority skills identified in the Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast is available on the Agriculture Cluster page.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Agribusiness Australia

AgriFutures Australia

Almond Board of Australia

Animal Health Australia

Apple and Pear Australia Limited

Arboriculture Australia

Australasian Alpaca Breeders Association

Australia Wool Testing Authority

Australian Alpaca Association

Australian Asparagus Council

Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders

Australian Banana Growers' Council

Australian Blueberry Growers' Association

Australian Cane Farmers Association

Australian Chicken Growers' Council

Australian Cotton Ginners Association

Australian Cotton Shippers Association

Australian Custom Harvesters

Australian Dairy Farmers

Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme

Australian Dairy Industry Council

Australian Egg Corporation Limited

Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association

Australian Farm Institute

Australian Fodder Industry Association

Australian Honey Bee Industry Council Inc.

Australian Institute of Horticulture

Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association

Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association

Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council

Australian Lot Feeders' Association

Australian Lychee Growers Association

Australian Macadamia Society Ltd

Australian Mango Industry Association

Australian Melon Association Inc.

Australian Mungbean Association

Australian Mushroom Growers’ Association Ltd

Australian Nut Industry Council

Australian Oilseeds Federation

Australian Olive Association

Australian Organic

Australian Organics Recycling Association

Australian Ostrich Association

Australian Pecan Growers Association Inc.

Australian Pig Breeders Association

Australian Pineapple Association

Australian Pork Limited

Australian Queen Bee Breeders’ Association

Australian Seed Federation

Australian Seeds Authority

Australian Society of Horticultural Science

Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology

Australian Sunflower Association

Australian Sweetpotato Growers Inc.

Australian Table Grape Association

Australian Vignerons

Australian Wool Exchange

Australian Wool Innovation

AUSVEG

Avocados Australia Ltd

AWTA Limited (Australian Wool Testing Authority)

Barley Australia

Bean Growers Australia

Biological Farmers Australia

Cane Harvesters

Canegrowers

Canola Association of Australia

Cattle Council of Australia

Cherry Growers Australia Inc.

Chestnuts Australia Inc.

Citrus Australia

Corporate Agriculture Australia

Cotton Australia

Cotton Research and Development Corporation

Crocodile Farmers Association of the Northern Territory

Crop Consultants Australia

Crop Pollination Association

Custard Apples Australia

Dairy Australia

Dairy Goat Society of Australia

Deer Industry Association of Australia

Dried Fruits Australia

Egg Farmers of Australia

Farm Biosecurity

Fertilizer Australia

Fisheries Research and Development Corporation

Flower Export Council of Australia

Goat Industry Council of Australia

Grain and Feed Trade Association

Grain Growers

Grain Producers Australia

Grain Trade Australia

Grains Research and Development Corporation

Green Roofs Australasia

Hazelnut Growers of Australia Inc

Honey Packers & Marketers Association of Australia Inc

Horticulture Innovation Australia

Institute of Australian Geographers

Irrigation Australia

Local Government Tree Resources Association

Maize Association of Australia

Meat & Livestock Australia

National Farmers' Federation

National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme

National Herd Improvement Association of Australia Incorporated

National Irrigators’ Council

Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association

Onions Australia

Organic Federation of Australia

Passionfruit Australia Inc

Peanut Company of Australia

Persimmons Australia Inc

Pistachio Growers Association Inc

Plant Health Australia

Potato Processing Association of Australia

PrimeSafe

Protected Cropping Australia

Pulse Australia

Raspberries and Blackberries Australia

Regional Australia Institute

Rice Growers’ Association of Australia

Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation

Rural Skills Australia

Shearing Contractors’ Association of Australia

Sheep Producers Australia

Sheepmeat Council of Australia

South Australian Wine Industry Association

Soy Australia

Strawberries Australia Inc

Summerfruit Australia Limited

Sustainable Gardening Australia

The Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand

The Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network 

Tropical Exotic Fruit Australia

Utility Arborist Association Australia

Voice of Horticulture

Wheat Exports Australia

Wheat Quality Australia

Wine Australia

Wool Classers' Association of Australia

Wool Producers Australia

 

Employee associations

The Australian Workers Union

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2019, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal.  

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industries, employment projections to May 2024
    • 010 Agriculture nfd
    • 012 Mushroom and Vegetable Growing
    • 013 Fruit and Tree Nut Growing
    • 014 Sheep, Beef Cattle and Grain Farming
    • 015 Other Crop Growing
    • 016 Dairy Cattle Farming
    • 017 Poultry Farming
    • 018 Deer Farming
    • 019 Other Livestock Farming
    • 052 Agriculture and Fishing Support Services.
  • by ANZSCO 4 digit occupations, employment projections to May 2024
    • Livestock Farmers
    • Crop Farmers
    • Mixed Crop and Livestock Farmers
    • Crop Farm Workers
    • Livestock Farm Workers
    • Farmers and Farm Managers, nfd.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2019, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 16 December 2019 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202019?OpenDocument.

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, 2000 to 2019, May Quarter
    • 010 Agriculture nfd
    • 012 Mushroom and Vegetable Growing
    • 013 Fruit and Tree Nut Growing
    • 014 Sheep, Beef Cattle and Grain Farming
    • 015 Other Crop Growing
    • 016 Dairy Cattle Farming
    • 017 Poultry Farming
    • 018 Deer Farming
    • 019 Other Livestock Farming
    • 052 Agriculture and Fishing Support Services.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 3 digit Agriculture industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • AHC – Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Training Package
  • Agriculture
    • AHC20110 - Certificate II in Agriculture
    • AHC20116 - Certificate II in Agriculture
    • AHC30110 - Certificate III in Agriculture
    • AHC30116 - Certificate III in Agriculture
    • AHC40110 - Certificate IV in Agriculture
    • AHC40116 - Certificate IV in Agriculture
    • AHC50110 - Diploma of Agriculture
    • AHC50116 - Diploma of Agriculture
    • AHC60110 - Advanced Diploma of Agriculture
    • RTE20103 - Certificate II in Agriculture
    • RTE30102 - Certificate III in Agriculture
    • RTE30103 - Certificate III in Agriculture
    • RTE30203 - Certificate III in Agriculture (Beef Production)
    • RTE40103 - Certificate IV in Agriculture
    • RTE50103 - Diploma of Agriculture
    • RTE60103 - Advanced Diploma of Agriculture
    • RUA10198 - Certificate I in Agriculture
    • RUA20198 - Certificate II in Agriculture
    • RUA30198 - Certificate III in Agriculture
    • RUA40198 - Certificate IV in Agriculture
    • RUA50198 - Diploma of Agriculture
    • RUA60198 - Advanced Diploma of Agriculture
  • Agri-food Operations
    • AGF10107 - Certificate I in Agri-Food (Pathways)
    • AGR10105 - Certificate I in Agri-Food (Pathways)
    • AHC10210 - Certificate I in AgriFood Operations
    • AHC10216 - Certificate I in AgriFood Operations
  • Beekeeping
    • AHC31818 - Certificate III in Beekeeping
    • AHC32010 - Certificate III in Beekeeping
    • AHC32016 - Certificate III in Beekeeping
  • Dairy Production
    • AHC30210 - Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy Production)
    • AHC30216 - Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy Production)
    • RTE30403 - Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy Production)
    • RUA10498 - Certificate I in Agriculture (Dairy)
    • RUA20498 - Certificate II in Agriculture (Dairy)
    • RUA30498 - Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy)
    • RUA40498 - Certificate IV in Agriculture (Dairy)
    • RUA40898 - Certificate IV in Agriculture (Milk Harvesting)
    • RUA50498 - Diploma of Agriculture (Dairy)
  • Feedlot Operations
    • AHC33316 - Certificate III in Feedlot Operations
    • AHC33311 - Certificate III in Feedlot Operations
  • Horse Breeding
    • AHC30310 - Certificate III in Horse Breeding
    • RTE30703 - Certificate III in Agriculture (Horse Breeding)
  • Irrigation and Irrigation Management
    • AHC21110 - Certificate II in Irrigation
    • AHC21112 - Certificate II in Irrigation
    • AHC21116 - Certificate II in Irrigation
    • AHC32410 - Certificate III in Irrigation
    • AHC32412 - Certificate III in Irrigation
    • AHC32416 - Certificate III in Irrigation
    • AHC41110 - Certificate IV in Irrigation
    • AHC41112 - Certificate IV in Irrigation
    • AHC41116 - Certificate IV in Irrigation
    • AHC51610 - Diploma of Irrigation Management
    • AHC51616 - Diploma of Irrigation Management
    • RTE20203 - Certificate II in Irrigation
    • RTE31303 - Certificate III in Irrigation
    • RTE40203 - Certificate IV in Irrigation
    • RTE50203 - Diploma of Irrigation
  • Permaculture and Organic Farming
    • AHC10416 - Certificate I in Permaculture
    • AHC21716 - Certificate II in Permaculture
    • AHC33816 - Certificate III in Permaculture
    • AHC41612 - Certificate IV in Organic Farming
    • AHC41616 - Certificate IV in Organic Farming
    • AHC42116 - Certificate IV in Permaculture
    • AHC51812 - Diploma of Organic Farming
    • AHC51816 - Diploma of Organic Farming
    • AHC52116 - Diploma of Permaculture
  • Pest Management
    • AHC30318 - Certificate III in Rural and Environmental Pest Management
    • AHC31810 - Certificate III in Vertebrate Pest Management
    • AHC31910 - Certificate III in Weed Management
    • AHC33616 - Certificate III in Pest Management
    • AHC41716 - Certificate IV in Pest Management
    • AHC51310 - Diploma of Pest Management
    • AHC51316 - Diploma of Pest Management
  • Pork Production
    • AHC30410 - Certificate III in Pork Production
    • AHC30416 - Certificate III in Pork Production
    • AHC50210 - Diploma of Pork Production
    • AHC50213 - Diploma of Pork Production
    • AHC50216 - Diploma of Pork Production
    • RTE30903 - Certificate III in Agriculture (Pig Production)
    • RUA10998 - Certificate I in Agriculture (Pig Production)
    • RUA20998 - Certificate II in Agriculture (Pig Production)
    • RUA30998 - Certificate III in Agriculture (Pig Production)
    • RUA40998 - Certificate IV in Agriculture (Pig Production)
  • Poultry Production
    • AHC20210 - Certificate II in Poultry Production Operations
    • AHC30510 - Certificate III in Poultry Production
    • AHC30516 - Certificate III in Poultry Production
    • AHC40210 - Certificate IV in Poultry Production
    • RTE31003 - Certificate III in Agriculture (Poultry Production)
    • RUA11098 - Certificate I in Agriculture (Poultry Production)
    • RUA21098 - Certificate II in Agriculture (Poultry Production)
    • RUA31098 - Certificate III in Agriculture (Poultry Production)
    • RUA41098 - Certificate IV in Agriculture (Poultry Production)
  • Rural Merchandising and Rural Machine Operations
    • AHC31918 - Certificate III in Rural Machinery Operations
    • AHC32610 - Certificate III in Rural Machinery Operations
    • AHC32616 - Certificate III in Rural Machinery Operations
    • AHC32710 - Certificate III in Rural Merchandising
    • AHC32716 - Certificate III in Rural Merchandising
    • AHC51710 - Diploma of Rural Machinery Management
    • RTE31803 - Certificate III in Rural Merchandising
    • RUA21298 - Certificate II in Agriculture (Rural Merchandising)
    • RUA31298 - Certificate III in Agriculture (Rural Merchandising)
    • RUA41298 - Certificate IV in Agriculture (Rural Merchandising)
  • Rural Operations
    • AHC21210 - Certificate II in Rural Operations
    • AHC21216 - Certificate II in Rural Operations
    • AHC32810 - Certificate III in Rural Operations
    • AHC32816 - Certificate III in Rural Operations
    • RTE10103 - Certificate I in Rural Operations
    • RTE20703 - Certificate II in Rural Operations
    • RTE31903 - Certificate III in Rural Operations
    • RUH20901 - Certificate II in Rural Operations
    • RUH30901 - Certificate III in Rural Operations
  • Shearing
    • AHC21310 - Certificate II in Shearing
    • AHC21316 - Certificate II in Shearing
    • AHC32910 - Certificate III in Shearing
    • AHC32916 - Certificate III in Shearing
    • AHC41210 - Certificate IV in Shearing
    • AHC42216 - Certificate IV in Shearing Contracting
    • RTE20403 - Certificate II in Shearing
    • RTE20503 - Certificate II in Crutching
    • RTE31503 - Certificate III in Shearing
    • RTE40403 - Certificate IV in Shearing
    • RUA22498 - Certificate II in Agriculture (Shearing)
  • Wool Clip Preparation, Handling and Classing
    • AHC21410 - Certificate II in Wool Handling
    • AHC21416 - Certificate II in Wool Handling
    • AHC33010 - Certificate III in Wool Clip Preparation
    • AHC33013 - Certificate III in Wool Clip Preparation
    • AHC33016 - Certificate III in Wool Clip Preparation
    • AHC33110 - Certificate III in Advanced Wool Handling
    • AHC33116 - Certificate III in Advanced Wool Handling
    • AHC41310 - Certificate IV in Wool Classing
    • AHC41313 - Certificate IV in Wool Classing
    • AHC41316 - Certificate IV in Wool Classing
    • RTE20303 - Certificate II in Wool Handling
    • RTE31403 - Certificate III in Wool Clip Preparation
    • RTE32003 - Certificate III in Advanced Wool Handling
    • RTE40303 - Certificate IV in Wool Classing
    • RUA21498 - Certificate II in Agriculture (Wool Handling)
    • RUA31498 - Certificate III in Agriculture (Clip Preparation)
    • RUA41498 - Certificate IV in Agriculture (Wool Classing)

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  •  2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  •  2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document. 

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

AHC – Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions 
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.
Updated: 16 Mar 2020
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