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Overview

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

The aerospace industry can be broken down into three sub-sectors:

  • aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturing
  • civilian aircraft repair and maintenance
  • military aircraft repair and maintenance.

The industry is highly regulated and concentrated on the eastern seaboard, in particular Queensland. The majority of businesses are non-employing or small businesses.

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

  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineers.

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 Aerospace Education and Training IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of work 2017-2021.

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

IRC and skills forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Numbers employed as Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, the intended occupation for Aeroskills Training Package qualifications, have varied over the period 2000–2017. In 2017, employment levels in this occupation were at its lowest level since 2003. By 2022, there is expected to be a further decrease in employment numbers.  

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. Time line data for this industry class is not readily available.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments have nearly halved and program completions have more than halved over the period 2014–2016. However, subject-only (no qualification) enrolments have increased from 14 in 2014 to 6,060 in 2016.

There were several subjects that had around 300 subject only enrolments. These subjects were all related to aircraft maintenance.

The most popular qualification was at the certificate IV level (mainly Avionics and Mechanical). In terms of qualification clusters, most enrolments were related to Mechanical and Maintenance, followed by Avionics. All the qualification enrolments were aimed at the intended occupation of Aircraft Maintenance Engineers.

Just over a half of the qualifications were delivered by TAFE institutes, with just under 40% delivered by Enterprise Training Providers. In addition, about 55% of subject enrolments were government funded with about 43% being domestic fee-for-service funding. About 32% of the students were from NSW followed by a further 29% from Queensland. Nearly 70% of the training was in NSW in 2016.

Apprenticeship commencements for Aeroskills courses have been on a downward trajectory over the period 2010–2017. Apprenticeship completions increased over the period 2010–2013 but have dipped significantly since then.

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 IRC Skills forecast lists the following five skills as the most important for their industry for the next three to five years:

  • information technology
  • electronic
  • digital programming
  • through-life support
  • logistics support analysis.

In addition, the five generic workforce skills they list as being most important are:

  • technology
  • language, literacy and numeracy
  • science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM)
  • communication/virtual collaboration/social intelligence
  • data analysis.

The skills forecast points out that that the aerospace industry will be impacted by new technologies such as Remotely Controlled Aircraft Systems and advanced materials. This has implications for skills and training in technology but also other areas as shown above.

Future air platforms are summarised in the article Anticipating the need for new skills for the future aerospace and aviation professionals. These relate to:

  • aircraft design and manufacturing
  • new lightweight ‘smart’ materials
  • the flying experiences of the passengers
  • air-taxi operations with small aircraft
  • increase in the number of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

The article also points out future skill needs of the industry based on the changes to the industry.  Using the Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills project as a theoretical framework, the authors claim that communication and collaboration skills must be more ‘finely tuned’ to accord with new ways of working (such as telecommuting and collaborative teams across locations and cultures). Other ‘soft’ skills such as team spirit work and leadership are also seen as being important for the industry.

While in the context of universities, the authors of the article also discuss relevant ways of imparting skills for aerospace jobs. One example is the use of Virtual Collaborative Environments for aircraft maintenance training. These virtual environments are thought to be very useful for providing skills for troubleshooting.

Another example provided in the article is gamification. This involves providing a complex system of rules for students to guide them through mastering potentially difficult tasks. The ‘game’ can be geared to the student’s skill level with the level of difficulty increasing as the student’s level of skill increases. This approach can also increase student motivation and engagement.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2017, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations , employment projections to May 2022
    • 3231 Aircraft Maintenance Engineers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSC)), sex, state and territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 – EQ08, viewed 1 November 2017 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202017?OpenDocument>

  • Employed total by ANZSC0 4 digit 3231 Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, 2000 to 2017, May Quarter.

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.

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, 2016 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 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 2016 commencements
  • 2010 to 2016 completions 
  • 2016 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2016 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Aerospace Education and Training Industry Reference Committee’s 2017–2021 IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work.

Updated: 15 Oct 2018
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