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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.

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 the following products from logs or sawn timber: laminations of timber (Glulam and I-Beam), and veneer, plywood and Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL).

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 2018 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 641 program enrolments in Timber Processing and Products-related qualifications during 2017 and 100 completions. Program enrolments have decreased between 2016 and 2017 but have increased overall from 2014. After remaining fairly steady between 2014 and 2016, program completions have decreased by approximately a third in 2017.

The majority of enrolments in 2017 were at certificate II and III levels in Timber Merchandising (34%) and Sawmilling and Processing (22%) 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 2017, 71% of training was delivered by private training providers with TAFE institutes accounting for a further 20%. There was some variance in provider type between different qualifications. For example, private training providers delivered approximately 97% of Certificate II & III in Sawmilling and Processing qualifications with the remainder delivered by TAFE institutes, whereas the Timber Merchandising (Certificate II & III) was more evenly split with 51% of qualifications delivered by private training providers and 49% delivered by TAFE institutes.

Funding source also differed between provider type; all subjects delivered by TAFE institutes were Commonwealth or state funded, however for private training providers the Commonwealth and state funded proportion dropped to 81% with domestic fee-for-service making up the other 19%. Forty-four percent of students who enrolled during 2017 were from Victoria, 18% were from New South Wales, and a further 15% were from Queensland.

During 2017, there were 172 apprenticeship and traineeship commencements and 85 completions in Timber Processing and Products-related qualifications. Commencement numbers declined between 2010 and 2013 and have remained fairly stable since then. Completion numbers rose between 2010 and 2012 and have fallen since. The training had a variety of intended occupations depending on the qualification being studied, with the most common being Carpenters and Joiners, and Sales Representatives. As at December 2017, 37% of apprentices in training were reported in Victoria, with 30% in New South Wales and 28% in Queensland.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET students by industry.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

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 Forest and Wood Products IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast identifies the top priority skills for the Timber Processing workforce in the next three to five years as:

  • 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 skills for the Timber Building Solutions workforce are listed as:

  • Timber truss and frame estimating and design
  • Advanced sales, marketing and customer service skills.

The advances in woodmachining and sawdoctoring identified in the above Skills Forecast 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.

Additionally, the top five generic skills in order of importance are listed as:

  • Technology use and application skills
  • Environmental and Sustainability skills
  • Language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills
  • Design mindset / Thinking critically / Systems thinking / Problem-solving skills
  • Communication / Collaboration including virtual collaboration / Social intelligence skills.

The IRC Skills Forecast identifies that attracting and recruiting young skilled people will increase in complexity for the sector. The workforce is currently dominated by pre-1980s generations, however within 10 years, as the senior workforce retires, 60% of the workforce will be from Generations X or Y. Younger generations tend to seek businesses who take an active role in the personal and professional development of employees and offer digital workplaces and flexible working conditions. The recruitment, training and the management of up to five generations of workers may be a challenge for an industry which is dominated by small- and medium-sized businesses.

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 Forest Products Association (AFPA)

Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA)

Australian Furniture Association (AFA)

Australian Shop & Office Fitting Industry Association (ASOFIA)

Australian Window Association (AWA)

Australian Woodworking Industry Suppliers Association (AWISA)

Cabinet Makers & Designers Association (CMDA)

Cabinet Makers Association of Western Australia (CMAWA)

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)

Furnishing Industry Association of Australia (FIAA)

Furniture Cabinets Joinery Alliance (FCJA)

Glued Laminated Timber Association of Australia (GLTAA)

NSW Glass & Glazing Association

Picture Framers Guild Australia (PFGA)

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)

 

Employee associations

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)

Australian Workers' Union (AWU)

CFMEU Forestry and Furnishing

 

Relevant research

Blueprint for the future South Australian forest and wood products industry (2014–2040) South Australian Forest Industry Advisory Board

Industry review 2016 Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI)

Thin markets: improving workforce development opportunities in thin markets of the food, fibre and timber industries Food, Fibre and Timber Industries Training Council (WA)

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:

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

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 2017 commencements
  • 2010 to 2017 completions 
  • 2017 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2017 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Forest and Wood Products IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 18 Dec 2018
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