cancel
search
Search by IRC, Industry, sector, training package, IRC skills forecast or occupation.

Timber Processing and Products

Overview

This page provides information and data on the Timber Processing and Products sector, which is a component of the Forest and Wood Products industry. The Timber Processing and Products sector comprises four sub-sectors:

  • Sawmilling and Processing
  • Timber Manufactured Products
  • Wood Panel and Board Production
  • Timber Merchandising.

The Sawmilling and Processing sub-sector includes primary processing activities that transform logs from trees into a range of products using sawing, peeling and chipping processes.

The Timber Manufactured Products sub-sector sources timber from sawmills and other upstream timber processing enterprises to manufacture wooden structural components/systems and other timber products, including pre-fabricated timber building systems for the construction market.

The Wood Panel and Board Production sub-sector incorporates all enterprises that manufacture wood panel from wood chips, sawdust, wood shavings, slabwood or off-cuts. The sub-sector also includes the manufacture of products from logs or sawn timber, such as laminations of timber (Glulam and I-Beam) from veneer and sawn timber.

The Timber Merchandising sub-sector operates via two major channels:

  • Retail and trade merchants selling and providing advice to the public, DIY market, and builders
  • Wholesalers, manufacturers, importers and exporters selling, importing and/or exporting large volumes of hardwood and softwood products and distributing them through the merchant sector or directly to the building industry.

Vocational education and training (VET) is required in the Timber Processing and Products sector in occupations such as:

  • Carpenters and Joiners
  • Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators
  • Timber and Wood Process Workers
  • Wood Machinists and Other Wood Trades Workers.

Nationally recognised training for the Timber Processing and Products sector is delivered under the FWP – Forest and Wood Products Training Package.

For information on the Forestry and Pulp and Paper Manufacturing sectors please visit the respective pages.

Information sourced from the Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The Log Sawmilling and Timber Dressing and Timber and Hardware Goods Wholesaling industry sectors have seen a fall in employment levels overall between 2000 and 2018. However, the Other Wood Product Manufacturing industry sector has seen employment levels rise over the same period. There have been significant fluctuations in employment levels in these industry sectors over the last decade.

The occupations of Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators and Timber and Wood Process Workers make up over 40% of the Log Sawmilling and Timber Dressing industry sector workforce. The employment level for Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators and Timber and Wood Process Workers is projected to decline substantially over the next five years until 2023.

Cabinetmakers make up nearly a quarter of the Other Wood Product Manufacturing workforce with Carpenters and Joiners making up a further 8.5%. Employment levels for Carpenters and Joiners are projected to increase over the next five years until 2023, however employment levels for Cabinetmakers are projected to remain stable over the same period.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were 630 program enrolments in Timber Processing and Products-related qualifications during 2018 and over 240 completions. Program enrolments remained relatively steady between 2017 and 2018 but have decreased overall from 2015 and 2016. After remaining fairly steady between 2015 and 2016, then dropping to just over 100 in 2017, program completions have more than doubled in 2018.

The majority of enrolments in 2018 were at certificate II and III levels in Timber Merchandising (30%) and Sawmilling and Processing (25%) qualifications. For those enrolled in Sawmilling and Processing qualifications the intended occupations were Sawmill Operators or Sawmill or Timber Yard Worker. Timber Merchandising qualifications had an intended occupation of either Sales Assistant (General) or Sales Representative (Building and Plumbing Supplies).

For enrolments during 2018, 76% of training was delivered by private training providers with TAFE institutes accounting for approximately 14% and enterprise training providers 10%. There was some variance in provider type between different qualifications. For example, private training providers delivered approximately 91% of Certificate II & III in Sawmilling and Processing qualifications with the remainder delivered by TAFE institutes, whereas enterprise providers delivered more than three quarters (77%) of qualifications for Timber Manufactured Products (Certificate II & III) with the remainder delivered by private training providers.

Funding source also differed between provider type; the majority (91%) of subjects delivered by TAFE institutes were Commonwealth or state funded, however for enterprise providers the Commonwealth and state funded proportion dropped to 53% with domestic fee-for-service making up the other 47%. Around two thirds of enrolments in 2018 were by students from either Victoria (39%) or Queensland (24%), with a further 17% from New South Wales.

During 2018, there were close to 160 apprenticeship and traineeship commencements and 68 completions in Timber Processing and Products-related qualifications. Commencement numbers declined significantly from 2010 to 2013, then have continued to decline gradually until 2018. Completion numbers rose between 2010 and 2012 but have fallen steadily since. The training had a variety of intended occupations depending on the qualification being studied, with the most common being Carpenters and Joiners, Sales Representatives and Sawmilling Operator. As at December 2018, around one third (34%) of apprentices in training were reported in Victoria, followed by 29% in Queensland and 28% in 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

The following generic skills were identified as top priority for the industry:

  • Technology use and application skills
  • Environmental and Sustainability skills
  • Language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Communication/Virtual collaboration/Social intelligence.

A range of top priority industry and occupation skills were identified, including:

  • Information and communication technology skills
  • Middle management skills
  • High level financial skills
  • Specialised skills.

In addition, the below priority industry and occupation specialist skills have been highlighted in the Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast as specific for the Timber Processing workforce in the next three to five years:

  • Advances in woodmachining and sawdoctoring
  • Sawmill timber and process optimisation
  • Timber product development and supply chain innovation
  • Bioenergy, co-generation and biochar.

The top priority specialist skills for the Timber Building Solutions workforce include timber truss and frame estimating and design and advanced sales, marketing and customer service skills.

The advances in woodmachining and sawdoctoring covers skill requirements to assist with the current expectations of wood machinists and sawdoctors due to technology changes and businesses operating in the competitive manufacturing environment.

The sawmill timber and process optimisation priority covers skill requirements to support productivity and technological developments in the timber sawmilling sector, including:

  • The ability to apply timber sawmilling principles, practices and processes that demonstrate improvement in resource efficiency and productivity
  • The ability to efficiently operate timber optimisation scanners (including X-ray, CT and 3D laser scanning) and software for log grading and sawing pattern optimisation
  • Knowledge about the fundamentals of mechanical and computing systems related to timber optimisation equipment and ability to undertake maintenance for this equipment.

The timber product development and supply chain priority covers skills requirements to support capabilities for product development in timber processing and improve performance in the product supply chain operations.

The bioenergy, co-generation and biochar priority covers skills requirements to support emerging bioenergy and biofuel developments based on forest biomass and other agricultural plant residues.

The timber truss and frame estimating and design priority includes skills requirements to assist with the high demand of estimating and design capabilities in the timber truss and frame industry. Skill needs include improved understanding of house construction to enable estimators/detailers to design and calculate quantities of timber for fabrication orders.

The advanced sales, marketing and customer service skills priority covers skills requirements to support implementation and ongoing management of online portals and systems for improved sales, marketing and customer service in the Timber Manufacturing industry.

The Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast details a variety of challenges and opportunities faced by the industry as a whole, including the following related to the Timber Processing and Product sector:

  • Domestic market – Investment in the softwood processing sector may be limited by uncertainties surrounding the future supply of forest resources, and if the log supply to emerging economies, such as China, continues, the amount of sawlog supply for domestic wood processors will diminish. Reducing log supply as a result of native forests being transitioned to forest reserves increasingly challenges the hardwood sawmilling and upstream hardwood manufacturing sectors.
  • Products with emerging markets – Growth in the demand for solid engineered wood products such as Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), Glulam and bioenergy products like biogas and wood pellets highlight opportunities for investment, innovation and entrepreneurship within the sector. Concerns around the availability of future log supply and impacts on local markets have been raised with regards to the growth of solid engineered wood products, while policy development is needed to enable wood residue from existing wood processing operations to be available to the energy sector and biochemical production.
  • Timber knowledge and expectations in the retail sector – The continual growth and expansion of timber and timber related products requires merchandising staff to maintain current product knowledge over a range of platforms. Further, customer behaviour and expectations have highlighted the need to increase the speed of service delivery while also transitioning to digital customer service capabilities and upskill in digital marketing across timber retailing and the supply chain.
  • Digitisation – Forestry and wood product companies have fallen behind many other industries in taking advantage of digital technologies, strong leadership and the development of digital skills and capabilities within an organisation are required to evolve existing operations into new business models.

The focus on new products and emerging markets brings about the growing demand for workers in specialised roles. As outlined in the Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast the key occupations in demand include specialist engineers, scientists and mechanics, and mobile and fixed-plant operators.

The Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast also identifies that attracting and recruiting young skilled people is becoming increasingly complex across the industry and across regional areas in general (as identified in 2018 Regional Skills Demand Profile: The Great South Coast). A range of specific issues make up this larger overarching challenge, including:

  • Younger skilled workers are looking to businesses that are active in personal and professional development, offer digital workplaces and flexible working conditions
  • An ageing workforce of Wood Machinists / Saw Technicians is placing pressure on the industry to recruit the next generation of skilled employees, requiring a review of how the industry engages with training and training organisations
  • Population churn in regional areas creates a fluid workforce and understanding local employment and regional competition are significant factors in considering skills demands and planning.

Links and resources

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

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian Cabinet & Furniture Association

Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA)

Australian Pulp and Paper Industry Technical Association (APPITA)

Australian Shop & Office Fitting Industry Association (ASOFIA)

Australian Window Association (AWA)

Australian Woodworking Industry Suppliers Association (AWISA)

Cabinet Makers Association of Western Australia (CMAWA)

Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA)

Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA)

Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT)

Forest Industries Federation WA (FIFWA)

ForestWorks

Frame & Truss Manufacturers Association of Australia (FTMA)

Furniture Cabinets Joinery Alliance (FCJA)

Glued Laminated Timber Association of Australia (GLTAA)

Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA)

Picture Framers Guild Australia (PFGA)

Responsible Wood

Tasmanian Forest Contractors Association (TFCA)

Tasmanian Sawmillers Association (TSA)

Timber & Building Materials Association (TABMA)

Timber Communities Australia (TCA) National

Timber Development Association of NSW (TDA)

Timber Merchants Australia (TMA)

Timber NSW

Timber Preservers Association of Australia (TPAA)

Timber Queensland Ltd

Timber Trade Industrial Association (TTIA)

Timber Veneer Association of Australia

Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI)

 

Government bodies

National Timber Councils Association (NTCA)

Timber Towns Victoria

 

Employee associations

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)

Australian Workers' Union (AWU)

CFMEU Forestry and Furnishing

 

Relevant research

Economic Potential for New Plantation Establishment in Australia – Department of Agriculture and Water Resources – Linden Whittle, Peter Lock and Beau Hug

Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast – Skills Impact

Growing a Better Australia: A Billion Trees for Jobs and Growth – Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Industry review 2016 Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI)

Management and Utilisation of Forest Residues – Stage 1 and Stage 2 Report – Department of State Growth, Tasmania

The Djarlma Plan (WA Forestry Industry Development Plan) – Forest Products Commission Western Australia

Thin Markets: Improving Workforce Development Opportunities in Thin Markets of the Food, Fibre and Timber Industries – Food, Fibre and Timber Industries Training Council (WA)

Wood Encouragement Policy for Western Australia – Forest Products Commission Western Australia

Data sources and notes

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

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2023
    • 141 Log Sawmilling and Timber Dressing
    • 149 Other Wood Product Manufacturing
    • 333 Timber and Hardware Goods Wholesaling
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • 7113 Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators
    • 8394 Timber and Wood Process Workers
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 3941 Cabinetmakers
    • 3312 Carpenters and Joiners
    • 3942 Wood Machinists and Other Wood Trades Workers
    • 7113 Paper and Wood Processing Machine Operators
    • 6211 Sales Assistants (General)
    • 6113 Sales Representatives
    • 7411 Storepersons
    • 7331 Truck Drivers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 November 2018 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202018?OpenDocument>

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, 2000 to 2017, May Quarter
    • 141 Log Sawmilling and Timber Dressing
    • 149 Other Wood Product Manufacturing
    • 333 Timber and Hardware Goods Wholesaling.

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 industry and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce
    • 141 Log Sawmilling and Timber Dressing
    • 149 Other Wood Product Manufacturing
    • 333 Timber and Hardware Goods Wholesaling.                                                                                                             

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

  • FWP Forest and Wood Products Training Package
  • Certificate II & III in Sawmilling and Processing
    • FPI20305 - Certificate II in Sawmilling and Processing
    • FPI20311 - Certificate II in Sawmilling and Processing
    • FPI30305 - Certificate III in Sawmilling and Processing
    • FPI30311 - Certificate III in Sawmilling and Processing
    • FPI20511 - Certificate II in Timber Manufactured Products
    • FPI30505 - Certificate III in Timber Manufactured Products
    • FPI30511 - Certificate III in Timber Manufactured Products
    • FWP20516 - Certificate II in Timber Manufactured Products
    • FWP30516 - Certificate III in Timber Manufactured Products
    • FPI20605 - Certificate II in Timber Merchandising
    • FPI20611 - Certificate II in Timber Merchandising
    • FPI30605 - Certificate III in Timber Merchandising
    • FPI30611 - Certificate III in Timber Merchandising
    • FWP20616 - Certificate II in Timber Merchandising
    • FWP30616 - Certificate III in Timber Merchandising
  • Certificate II and III in Timber Truss and Frame Design and Manufacture
    • FPI30910 - Certificate III in Timber Truss and Frame Design and Manufacture
    • FPI30911 - Certificate III in Timber Truss and Frame Design and Manufacture
    • FWP30916 - Certificate III in Timber Truss and Frame Design and Manufacture
    • FWP20716 - Certificate II in Timber Truss and Frame Design and Manufacture
  • Certificate III in Sawdoctoring
    • FPI30705 - Certificate III in Sawdoctoring
    • FPI30711 - Certificate III in Sawdoctoring
    • FWP30716 - Certificate III in Sawdoctoring
  • Certificate III in Woodmachining
    • FPI30805 - Certificate III in Woodmachining
    • FPI30811 - Certificate III in Woodmachining
    • FWP30816 - Certificate III in Woodmachining
  • Certificate IV in Timber Processing
    • FPI40205 - Certificate IV in Timber Processing
    • FPI40211 - Certificate IV in Timber Processing
    • FWP40216 - Certificate IV in Timber Processing
  • Certificate IV in Timber Truss and Frame Design and/or Manufacture
    • FWP40316 - Certificate IV in Timber Truss and Frame Manufacture
    • FWP40416 - Certificate IV in Timber Truss and Frame Design
    • FPI40310 - Certificate IV in Timber Truss and Frame Manufacture
    • FPI40311 - Certificate IV in Timber Truss and Frame Manufacture
    • FPI40410 - Certificate IV in Timber Truss and Frame Design
    • FPI40411 - Certificate IV in Timber Truss and Frame Design
  • Diploma of Forest and Forest Products
    • FPI50105 - Diploma of Forest and Forest Products
    • FPI50111 - Diploma of Forest and Forest Products
    • FPI50199 - Diploma of Forest & Forest Products (Forest Growing & Management)
    • FPI50299 - Diploma of Forest & Forest Products (Wood Panel Products)
    • FWP50116 - Diploma of Forest and Forest Products.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

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

FWP – Forest and Wood Products 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.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Forest and Wood Products IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 01 Nov 2019
To Top