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Overview

This page provides high-level information on the aerospace sector.

The Aerospace sector maintains and repairs commercial and military aircraft, as well as manufacturing aircraft and aircraft components. There were 920 businesses employing 10,900 people in 2018, with 80% of businesses located in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

The aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector is made up of a mix of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), independent service providers, and airlines with internal MRO capabilities. Services offered include line and heavy maintenance, repair, overhaul and modification of complete aircraft, aircraft engines and accessories, airframes and systems, aircraft systems and components, avionics and instruments.

Vocational education and training (VET) is required typically for the aerospace occupation:

  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineers.

The MRO sector is highly regulated and very reliant on highly skilled labour to provide maintenance services. Demand for MROs services is on the rise, with annualised revenue forecast to increase by 2.7% over the five years to 2022–2023 as airlines and Defence upgrade fleets.

Nationally recognised training for the aerospace industry is delivered under the MEA – Aeroskills Training Package.

For other information on manufacturing, visit the Manufacturing and related services cluster page. For information on the Aviation industry, visit the Aviation sector page.

Information sourced from the most recently available Skills Forecast, the Aerospace IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and skills forecasts

The Aerospace IRC was not required to submit an annual update to their 2019 Skills Forecast during 2020. As such, the version published in 2019 remains the most recently published Skills Forecast for this industry.

Aerospace IRC

Employment trends

Please note: any employment projections outlined below were calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics prior to COVID-19.

Employment snapshot

The number of employed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, which is the intended occupation for Aeroskills Training Package qualifications, has fluctuated between 2000 and 2019. At its peak in 2009, the employment level was around 17,900, before declining to around 8,100 in 2017. In 2018 the employment level rebounded to its highest level since 2011, to around 11,400, but decreased again in 2019 and 2020, to its lowest level (about 6,100). The employment level is projected to increase between 2020 and 2024 to approximately 11,500.

In addition, the Australian Bureau of Statistics census data indicates that in 2016 there were approximately 7,850 people employed in Aircraft Manufacturing and Repair Services. Timeline data for this industry class is not readily available.

Training trends

Training snapshot

During 2019 there were just over 1,930 program enrolments in Aerospace-related qualifications, up from 1,130 enrolments in 2016. Program completions in Aerospace-related qualifications have also risen each year since 2016, to a peak of around 560 in 2019.

Enrolments in subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program have trended upwards, reaching approximately 20,210 in 2019. Conversely, enrolments in subjects not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program have fluctuated since 2015, peaking in 2016 at around 6,430, before declining in 2019 to about 3,900.

The largest proportion of enrolments in 2019 were at the Certificate IV level (38%). In terms of qualification clusters, most enrolments were related to Mechanical and maintenance (70%), followed equally by Avionics (15%) and Other aeroskills qualifications (15%). The most common intended occupations for the training were Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical) and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics).

Most Aerospace-related qualifications were delivered by enterprise providers and TAFE institutes (about 46% each) in 2019. Approximately 66% of enrolments were government funded, with 30% funded via domestic fee for service arrangements.

Over a third of students enrolled in Aerospace-related programs reported they resided in New South Wales (36%), 30% lived in Queensland and about 11% in Western Australia in 2019. In terms of delivery location, approximately 39% of program enrolments were delivered in Queensland, 37% in New South Wales and about 9% in Western Australia.

Apprenticeship and traineeship commencements for Aerospace courses generally trended downwards over the period between 2010 and 2016, with slight increases reported from 2017 to 2019. Apprenticeship and traineeship completions have fluctuated since 2010, increasing between 2010 and 2013, before declining between 2014 and 2016, and then increasing in 2017 and 2018. A sizable decrease to approximately 220 was recorded in 2019. The intended occupations for the training were Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical) (63%), Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics) (33%) and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Structures) (5%). New South Wales reported 62% of apprenticeship activity, with 22% reported in Queensland.

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 Aerospace IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identified skills in ageing aircraft maintenance and understanding of composite materials as priority areas for skill development. In addition, the five generic workforce skills listed as being most important are:

  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/Systems thinking/Solving problems
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence
  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills
  • Technology.

In the survey conducted by IBSA Manufacturing during October 2017, 143 industry respondents across all states and territories identified an ageing workforce and a shortage of skilled workers as key challenges for the Aerospace sector. Unlike many other industries, the automation of tasks was rated as the challenge that had the least impact. New job roles the industry is developing skills for include roles related to:

  • Licensing and regulation
  • Managerial and leadership
  • Avionics, digital systems integration, new aircraft types and composite structures
  • Cross-trade mechanical skills, fibre optics and technical research.

New and emerging job roles requiring new skills development for Defence include:

  • Networks air and ground integration
  • The use of drone technology for professional imagery capture
  • Low observable air frames.

The Queensland Aerospace 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan states industry has raised concerns about potential shortages of skilled engineers in the aerospace manufacturing base within five to six years, however Australia has both a strong need and opportunity to help meet this expected shortfall in Australia and in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Report of the Expert Panel on Aviation Skills and Training identified several issues in regard to maintenance training: poor alignment of competencies between CASA and the MEA Aeroskills Training Package; there are separate funding schemes in each state; and an urgent need for alignment with EASA regulations. The Aerospace IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast reports the lack of harmonisation of Australia’s regulations with other countries is impacting on the supply of skilled employees for the domestic market and the ability of training organisations to compete for training delivery globally. Issues surrounding licencing are being addressed by the Aerospace IRC with the AISC approving the Case for Endorsement and final draft MEA Aeroskills Training Package components for the Aircraft Maintenance Subcategory B1 Licences Project and a review of the Training Package to determine the development work that needs to be undertaken, to ensure that Licensing Regulations requirements are met.

COVID-19 impact

The impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry has been substantial; fewer aircraft flying fewer hours has meant less demand for maintenance, repair and overhaul. International management consulting firm Oliver Wyman estimated in July 2020 that spending on aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul for the year was expected to reach $50.3 billion USD. This represents 55% of the $91.2billion that was expected pre-COVID. In August 2020, Qantas announced its post-COVID recovery plan in which it proposed there would be at least 630 ‘engineering’ job losses due the retirement of its 747 fleet, less flying activity (particularly of the wide-body fleet) and work from Jetstar’s Newcastle base would be redistributed to make use of existing maintenance capacity in Melbourne.

Looking ahead, the successful development of a COVID-19 vaccine (or more than one) and its distribution will have a significant, positive impact on the aviation industry, including Aircraft Maintenance Engineers.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2020, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2024
    • 3231 Aircraft Maintenance Engineers.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), sex, state and territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 – EQ08, viewed 1 August 2020, https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202020?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSC0 4-digit 3231 Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, 2000 to 2020, May Quarter.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level ANZSC0 4 digit 3231 Aircraft Maintenance Engineers.

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

MEA Aeroskills Training Package:

  • Avionics
    • MEA40607 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA40610 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA40611 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA40615 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA40618 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA41011 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechatronics)
    • MEA41015 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechatronics)
    • MEA50110 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA50111 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA50115 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA50118 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Avionics)
    • MEA50311 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
    • MEA50315 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
    • MEA50318 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
    • MEA60111 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
    • MEA60115 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
    • MEA60118 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
  • Mechanical and maintenance
    • MEA20511 - Certificate II in Aircraft Line Maintenance
    • MEA20515 - Certificate II in Aircraft Line Maintenance
    • MEA20518 - Certificate II in Aircraft Line Maintenance
    • MEA40707 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA40710 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA40711 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA40715 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA40718 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA41018 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Mechatronics)
    • MEA50210 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA50211 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA50215 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA50218 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA50219 – Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA50411 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
    • MEA50415 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
    • MEA50418 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
    • MEA60211 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
    • MEA60215 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
    • MEA60218 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
  • Other aeroskills qualifications
    • MEA20407 - Certificate II in Aeroskills
    • MEA20411 - Certificate II in Aeroskills
    • MEA20415 - Certificate II in Aeroskills
    • MEA20418 - Certificate II in Aeroskills
    • MEA20618 - Certificate II in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA30111 - Certificate III in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA30115 - Certificate III in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA30118 - Certificate III in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA30311 - Certificate III in Aircraft Life Support and Furnishing
    • MEA30315 - Certificate III in Aircraft Life Support and Furnishing
    • MEA30318 - Certificate III in Aircraft Life Support and Furnishing
    • MEA40810 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Structures)
    • MEA40911 - Certificate IV in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA40915 - Certificate IV in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA40918 - Certificate IV in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA41118 - Certificate IV in Aeronautical Life Support Equipment
    • MEA41211 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Armament)
    • MEA41213 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Armament)
    • MEA41218 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Armament)
    • MEA41311 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Structures)
    • MEA41315 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Structures)
    • MEA41318 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Structures).

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2015 to 2019 program enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 subject enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 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%.

MEA Aeroskills Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2019 commencements
  • 2010 to 2019 completions
  • 2019 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2019 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

 

Priority skills and generic skills data have been extracted from the Aerospace IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 16 Dec 2020
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