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Electrotechnology

Overview

This page provides high level information and data on the Electrotechnology industry which comprises six main industry sectors:

  • Electrical Services (Electricians)
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Industrial Control
  • Electronics and Computers
  • Refrigeration and Air-conditioning
  • Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

The Electrotechnology industry includes the design, maintenance, installation and repair of all electrical and electronic equipment. The Electrotechnology industry workforce stretches across a wide range of other industries including Mining, Manufacturing, ICT and Communications, Construction, and Utilities. In Australia, the Electrotechnology industry generated over $85 billion in revenue between 2016 and 2017 and currently employs approximately 340,000 people.

Nationally recognised training for the Electrotechnology industry is delivered under the UEE Electrotechnology Training Package.

For more information and data specific to Electrical Services, Electrical Engineering, Industrial Control, Electronics and Computers, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning, Renewable and Sustainable Energy, ESI Generation, and ESI Transmission Distribution and Rail please visit the respective pages.

Information sourced from the Electrotechnology IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

For occupations within the Electrotechnology industry, Electrical Engineering Draftsperson and Technician, Electricians, and Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics experienced growth in employment levels between the years 2000 and 2018, and employment in these occupations is projected to increase further over until 2023.

For the occupations of Electronic Engineering Draftsperson and Technician and Electronics Trades Worker, employment levels fell between the years 2000 and 2018 and are projected to decrease further until 2023. Overall, the employment level for Telecommunications Trades Worker increased between 2000 and 2018 but is projected to decline until 2023.

Program enrolments in the Electrotechnology Training Package decreased between 2014 and 2016, however 2017 saw a reversal in this trend, with enrolment numbers increasing by over 4,800 on the previous year to approximately 63,500. Program completions have continued to decline since 2015, with approximately 13,000 students completing their training during 2017, down around 2,400 on the previous year. Subject only (no qualification) enrolments have declined by more than half over the last 4 years, from approximately 75,000 during 2014, to around 31,000 in 2017.

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Electrotechnology IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast, the top priority skills required for the Electrotechnology industry are:

  • test/diagnostics
  • health/safety
  • maintenance/servicing
  • electrical
  • air-conditioning/refrigeration.

There was correspondence between the most requested skills by employers in the job vacancy data, and the top priority/generic skills identified in the IRC Skills Forecast. For example, problem solving, troubleshooting, and maintenance were all highlighted as skills in demand, by both the Skills Forecast, and the job vacancy data. 

According to the job vacancy data, the most advertised Electrotechnology occupations were Electricians, followed by Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics, corresponding with the top two occupations listed as in shortage by the IRC Skills Forecast. The full list of job roles reported as being in shortage over the last 12 months by the Skills Forecast were:

  • Refrigeration/Air-Conditioning Technicians
  • Electricians
  • Educators, Trainers and Assessors
  • Engineers (various)
  • Renewables Specialists.

Reasons given by employers for the difficulty of recruiting staff in the job roles listed above, in order of frequency were:

  • ageing workforce/current staff retiring
  • cost/time to achieve the required qualification
  • wages/salaries considered too low
  • unattractive job/poor industry image
  • competition from other organisations.

The Skills Forecast 2018 highlights technological change and new energy efficiency targets as two of the biggest challenges for the future skilling of the Electrotechnology workforce. These are mentioned as occurring in the following areas:

  • Self-generation of electricity and battery storage through renewable technology is rapidly increasing.
  • New products and services in process and home automation are regularly coming onto the market in Australia, creating demand for specialised skills in the installation of these technologies.
  • Energy efficiency initiatives introduced by the federal and state governments are encouraging the uptake of new technologies such as solar photovoltaic (PV), battery storage, and electric vehicles.
  • Government initiatives to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s) in refrigeration and other processes will create new skills and knowledge requirements in the handling of alternative synthetic and natural refrigerants.

Due to the continuous adoption of emerging technologies listed above, the IRC Skills Forecast mentions the following areas of skills and knowledge development required for the Electrotechnology workforce:

  • Energy efficiency technologies such as solar PV, battery storage, and electric vehicles.
  • Home/industrial process automation systems.
  • The use of smart phones to control and integrate IT systems, security systems, and electrical services.

A report by the International Specialised Skills Institute examined electrical apprenticeship training within the international arena. The report made several recommendations to industry organisations aimed at enhancing the quality of Australian electrical apprenticeships:

  • The establishment of stronger links between Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and industry/industry groups.
  • The establishment of greater industry interaction through collaborative groups and projects.
  • A higher degree of engagement by employers in the delivery of apprenticeship training.

The issue of an ageing Electrotechnology workforce, reported in the IRC Skills Forecast, highlights the importance of ensuring a ready supply of labour into the industry through quality apprenticeship programs. The ageing workforce represents a challenge to the industry through the loss of key skills and skills gaps created by retiring workers. It also increases the risk of knowledge gaps when industry experience and corporate knowledge is not passed on. Potential training initiatives that could assist in maintaining corporate and industry knowledge include mentoring and knowledge sharing between older and younger workers.

A further challenge the IRC Skills Forecast 2018 highlights is the competition between employers for employees with the correct accreditation and/or skills, which creates workforce demand in industry sectors where specialised knowledge is required. This competition is due to the strict licensing requirements for the Electrotechnology workforce. Attracting new people into the industry to increase the workforce pool is challenging due to the increasing costs of apprenticeships and licencing. Policies designed to encourage greater industry participation by under-represented groups such as women would have a beneficial impact on securing the long-term supply of labour (see the report Perfect for a woman: increasing the participation of women in electrical trades by Jones et al. 2017).

It is evident the main challenges for skilling the future Electrotechnology workforce are the emergence of new technologies and the global shift toward renewable energies. Issues such as an ageing workforce and competition for skilled workers are also prevalent. A high degree of engagement between industry groups and training organisations will be required to ensure that the future Electrotechnology workforce is adequately trained to meet these challenges.

Links and resources

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

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors’ Association

ANZETA Electrotechnology Training Alliance

Australian Energy Storage Council

Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating

Australian Refrigeration Mechanics Association

Australian Rail Track Corporation

Clean Energy Council

Energy Skills Queensland

Energy Skills SA

Future Energy Skills

Institute of Instrumentation Control and Automation

Lighting Council Australia

Master Electricians Australia

National Electrical and Communications Association

National Electrical Switchboard Manufacturers Association

NSW Utilities & Electrotechnology Industry Training Advisory Body

Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors’ Association Australia

Regulatory bodies

Australian Refrigeration Council

Electrical Safety Office QLD

Energy Safe Victoria

NT WorkSafe

Safe Work Australia

SafeWork SA

SafeWork NSW

Worksafe Tasmania

Employee associations

Communications Electrical Plumbing Union

Electrical Trades Union

Relevant research

Deepening the Skill and Knowledge Base While Maintaining the Competitiveness of the Australian Electrical Apprenticeship Programs – International Specialised Skills Institute

Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap: Final Report – Energy Network Australia, CSIRO

Environmental Scan 2015 – E-Oz Energy Skills Australia

Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market: Blueprint for the Future – Department of the Environment and Energy

Perfect for a woman: increasing the participation of women in electrical trades – Jones, A, Clayton, B, Pfitzner, N & Guthrie, H. Victoria University.

Powering Queensland: our renewable energy achievements – Queensland. Department of Energy and Water Supply

Renewable Energy Action Plan (Victoria) – Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Renewable Energy Index: February 2018 – Green Energy Markets

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • 3123 Electrical Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians
    • 3124 Electronic Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 3421 Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics
    • 3423 Electronics Trades Workers
    • 3424 Telecommunications Trades Workers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1 November 2018 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202018?OpenDocument>

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit occupation, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter
    • 3123 Electrical Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians
    • 3124 Electronic Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 3421 Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics
    • 3423 Electronics Trades Workers
    • 3424 Telecommunications Trades Workers.

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

  • UEE – Electrotechnology Training Package.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 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.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Electrotechnology IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018, <https://www.burning-glass.com>.

Data shown represents most requested generic skills and occupations according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 filtered by the ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills/Occupations
    • 34 Electrotechnology and Telecommunications Trades Workers
    • 3123 Electrical Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians
    • 3124 Electronic Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians.
Updated: 17 Dec 2018
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