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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, Communications, Construction, Renewables, and Domestic and Commercial Refrigeration and Air Conditioning. In Australia, the Electrotechnology industry generated over $89 billion in revenue between 2018 and 2019 and currently employs approximately 352,000 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 2019 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.

After peaking at approximately 63,160 in 2017, program enrolments in the Electrotechnology Training Package have declined to roughly 60,300 in 2018, which is still an above the enrolment levels recorded in 2015 and 2016. Program completions have continued to decline with around 14,820 completions in 2018. Subject only (no qualification) enrolments have increased significantly in 2018 after declining between 2015 and 2017, with almost 31,700 subject only enrolments in 2017 and close to 59,300 in 2018.

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Electrotechnology IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, the top priority skills required for the Electrotechnology industry are health and safety, maintenance and servicing, electrical, testing and diagnostics, and security. In addition, the top priority generic skills for the Electrotechnology industry include:

  • Technology
  • Science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM)
  • Design mindset / thinking critically / system thinking / solving problems
  • Learning agility / information literacy / intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Language, literacy and numeracy (LLN).

According to the job vacancy data, the most advertised Electrotechnology occupations were Electricians, followed by Electronics Trades Workers and Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics. Further, the Electrotechnology IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast lists the following skills and labour shortages, as identified from an online survey of industry stakeholders:

  • Educators, trainers and assessors
  • Electricians
  • Refrigeration / air conditioning technicians
  • Engineers (various)
  • Appliance repair.

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

  • Ageing workforce / current staff retiring
  • Cost / time to achieve the required qualification
  • Competition from other organisations
  • Wages / salaries considered too low
  • Geographic location of the vacancy.

The Electrotechnology IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast highlights a range of challenges and opportunities facing the future skilling of the Electrotechnology workforce, many of which related to technological advancements and the associated systems, empowered consumers, solar energy and sustainability and hazard awareness.

Advancements in technology and the associated development of new electronics and systems is transforming the Electrotechnology industry, creating empowered consumers and demanding new and evolving skills sets from existing and future Electrotechnology workers. Some of the key areas experiencing change include the widespread and growing use of automated and smart systems such as security systems, smart lighting, heating and air conditioning, and camera systems. Many of these changes are as a result of the Internet of Things (IoT), a connected network of digital devices, appliances, software and sensors that rely on computer technology and RF communications systems (systems that are also used in autonomous vehicles). These integrated technologies in homes and businesses are also empowering consumers, allowing them to control and reduce energy costs and consumption through more technologically advanced and efficient systems. As these systems evolve and companies compete for, and expand their customer base, new skills and increased demand will be placed upon Electrotechnology workers, including the broad and essential skill of digital literacy. Further, increasing cyber security threats and attacks are closely related to advancing technology and increased connectivity, meaning industry workers are expected to have the skills and capabilities to protect infrastructure.

Solar and renewable energy has been identified in the Electrotechnology IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast as having a significant impact on skills demand, particularly as the current 1.8 million residential rooftop solar installations is expected to double by the mid-2020’s, and there is already a reported shortage of electricians who have the necessary skills for the installation and maintenance of solar systems. According to the Clean Energy Australia Report 2019, investment in large-scale clean energy projects is significant, having doubled to more than $20 billion in 2018 with 38 projects completed that year, while a further 87 large-scale renewable energy projects are currently under construction or financially committed at the beginning of 2019. In addition, Australia’s commitment to reduce emissions as per the Paris Climate Agreement brings about the need to maximise the potential of renewable technologies such as solar photovoltaics panels and battery storage units, as well as continuing to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and embracing alternative refrigerants. The increased use of alternative refrigerant presents new skilling challenges, as many of these alternatives are more flammable or toxic to humans, requiring additional training and upskilling of current and future workers.

Hazard awareness continues to form imperative part of training, particularly in relation to managing the risks associated with silica. Silica is a chemical compound that can become airborne when drilling and riveting into materials such as concrete. Significant efforts to address safe work practices around this hazard have been made through industry wide training workshops, and a review is currently underway by Safe Work Australia to ensure the ‘Workplace Exposure Standards for Airborne Contaminants’ are based upon the highest quality evidence and supported by a rigorous scientific approach.

The issue of an ageing Electrotechnology workforce, reported in the Electrotechnology IRC’s 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. In addition, it has been suggested that encouraging a diverse workplace and increasing female participation may not only help meet the demand for skilled workers, but also assist in ensuring the industry is sustainable and economically viable into the future.

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

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors’ Association

ANZETA Electrotechnology Training Alliance

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

Smart Energy Council

 

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

Clean Energy Australia Report 2019 – Clean Energy Council

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

Environmental Scan 2015 – E-Oz Energy Skills Australia

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

enewable 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:

  • UEE11/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:

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

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Electrotechnology IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2019, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represents most requested generic skills and occupations according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 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
  • Employers
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 3423 Electronics Trades Workers
    • 3421 Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics
    • 3123 Electrical Engineering Draftspersons and Technicians
    • 3424 Telecommunications Trades Workers
Updated: 03 Dec 2019
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