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Manufacturing and Related Services


The Manufacturing and Related Services industry is very diverse, covering multiple sectors. It forms a very large part of the Australian economy and is one of Australia’s largest employing industries. It has, however, declined in size due to factors such as the increasing availability of manufactured products in lower cost economies and increasing commodity process.  

It is pointed out in Conditions in the Manufacturing Sector that the above conditions brought about structural changes to the manufacturing sector that included manufacturers closing down or shifting production to lower cost economies. Research and Development, however, is one area of manufacturing where Australia has a comparative advantage, although does not employ as many people.  

In 2000, the ANZSIC classified Manufacturing industry employed approximately 1.1 million people but this has declined to just over 900 000 in 2017. This represents 7.4% of all employed persons as compared to 12.4% of all employed persons in 2000, at which time it was the largest single industry sector for employment (6th largest in 2017).

The Manufacturing and Related Services industry as it is represented here covers the following sectors:

  • Aerospace
  • Furnishing
  • Laboratory operations
  • Metal, Engineering and Boating
  • Process Manufacturing
  • Recreational Vehicles
  • Sustainability
  • Textile, Clothing and Footwear.

There are six Industry Reference Committees relevant to this cluster:

  • Aerospace
  • Furnishing
  • Manufacturing and Engineering
  • Process Manufacturing, Recreational Vehicle and Laboratory
  • Sustainability
  • Textile, Clothing and Footwear.

The six IRCs have responsibility for 11 training packages. These are:

  • MEA Aeroskills
  • MSF Furnishing
  • MSL Laboratory operations
  • MEM Manufacturing and Engineering
  • MEM05 Metal and Engineering
  • MSM Manufacturing
  • PMA Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining
  • PMB Plastics, Rubber and Cablemaking
  • PMC Manufactured Mineral Products
  • MST Textiles, Clothing and Footwear
  • MSS Sustainability.

The relevant Skills Service organisation for this cluster is IBSA Manufacturing.

For information on other Manufacturing related industries see the Automotive cluster page, the Food and Pharmaceutical Production cluster page, and Pulp and Paper Manufacturing cluster page.

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

Industry cluster snapshot

Industry insights on skills needs

The Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap by CSIRO Futures presents a vision of Australian (advanced) Manufacturing being transformed into a highly integrated, collaborative and export-focused ecosystem providing high value customised solutions within global value chains.

The report identifies three opportunity themes for Australian manufacturing in the future:

  • Customised high-margin solutions – This includes design services, and the manufacture of superior components and novel products.
  • Sustainable manufacturing – Both business models and processes to support sustainable manufacturing and also the manufacture of sustainable products.
  • Selling services – This includes maintenance and repair services, workflow management services and health and biosecurity services.

Part of the enabling actions for manufacturing success in the future includes skills, training and the workforce. They highlight four main skill areas development and acquisition:

  • Digital literacy – Data science and digital literacy skills including expertise in smart data systems, communications and data interpretation.
  • Leadership and strategic management – A requirement for more sophisticated approach to business planning and staff management for small family run manufacturing businesses.
  • Customer interface – The integration of and product design requires more customer liaison skills.
  • STEM – Seen as fundamental for advanced manufacturing; particularly in product design and development.

Links and resources

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

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre

ANZLAA – Australian and New Zealand Laboratory Animal Association

Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers (ARPM)

Association for Sustainability in Business

Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists

Australasian Bioplastics Association

Australasian Plastics and Rubber Institute Inc (APRI)

Australian and New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion

Australasian Furnishing Association

Australian 3D Manufacturing Association (A3DMA)

Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council

Australian Cablemakers Association

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Australian Industry Group

Australian Institute of Medical Scientists

Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Limited (AMTIL)

Australian Steel Institute

Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council

Australian Sustainable Business Group

Aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Business Association (AMROBA)

Aviation/Aerospace Australia

Business Council of Australia

Caravan Industry Association of Australia

Centre for Sustainability Leadership

Chemistry Australia

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Australian Fashion Council

Design Institute of Australia

Engineers Australia

FIAA (Furnishing Industry Association of Australia)

Getting to Sustainability

Manufacturing Australia

Minerals Council of Australia

National Measurement Institute

Plastics and Chemicals Industry Association

Plastics Industry Manufacturers of Australia

Regional Aviation Association of Australia

Science Industry Australia

SETA –Science Education Technicians Australia

Standards Australia

Sustainability Matters

Sustainable Business Australia

The Australasian Laboratory Managers Institute

The Fifth Estate

WCAA (Window Coverings Association of Australia Inc.)


Employee associations

Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU)

Australian Workers’ Union (AWU)

Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU)

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU)

National Union of Workers

Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia


Relevant research

Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap CSIRO Futures

Conditions in the Manufacturing Sector – Sean Langcake, Reserve Bank of Australia

Data sources and notes

Employment data has been extracted from :

The 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 December 2017 <>

Updated: 15 Oct 2018
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