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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.

Australia has 34 medium-sized (20–199 employees) companies and six large (200+ employees) companies in aerospace manufacturing. Aerospace manufacturers are mainly located on the eastern seaboard which accounts for over 80% of the industry enterprises.

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.

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

For other information on manufacturing and related services, visit the following cluster pages:

Information sourced from the Aerospace IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

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 2000–17. 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. Timeline data for this industry class is not readily available.

Training trends

Training snapshot

During 2017, there were over 1,250 program enrolments and approximately 450 completions in Aeroskills-related qualifications, an increase on the previous year, although below 2014 levels. Subject-only enrolments (no qualification) have increased from 14 in 2014 to 5,339 in 2017.

The largest proportion of enrolments in 2017 was at the certificate IV level. In terms of qualification clusters, the majority of enrolments were related to mechanical and maintenance, followed by avionics. The most common intended occupations for the training were Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical), followed by Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics).

For enrolments in 2017, just under half of the qualifications were delivered by enterprise training providers, with a further 46% provided by TAFE institutes. In addition, approximately 58% of subject enrolments were government funded, with 42% being funded via domestic fee-for-service arrangements. About 36% of students were from Queensland, and 29% from New South Wales.

Apprenticeship commencements for aeroskills courses generally trended downwards over the period 2010–17, although 2017 saw a slight increase on the previous year. Apprenticeship completions increased over the period 2010–13, before declining significantly over the following three years. However, there was a slight increase in 2017 on the previous year. In 2017, the majority of apprenticeship activity was reported from New South Wales.

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 Aerospace IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast, lists skills in the following areas as priority over the next three to five years:

  • regulatory/legislative
  • ageing aircraft maintenance
  • aircraft surface finishing
  • joint strike fighter manufacturing.

In addition, the five generic workforce skills as they list 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)
  • Technology use and application.

Ensuring the Aerospace workforce is adequately skilled to meet the demands of a predicted expansion in air travel, and accompanying technological advancement, presents a significant challenge. 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. The IRC skills forecast reports the skilling needs for the Aerospace workforce are not straight forward. There is a need to retain skills in providing MRO services to both ageing aircraft using traditional technologies, and state-of-the-art aircraft using highly sophisticated and constantly evolving technologies.

The impact on workforce skilling requirements through the development of 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
  • 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 industry skill needs 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 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.

  • 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)
    • 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)
    • MEA50311 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
    • MEA50315 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
    • MEA60111 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
    • MEA60115 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Avionics)
  • Mechanical and maintenance
    • MEA20511 - Certificate II in Aircraft Line Maintenance
    • MEA20515 - 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)
    • MEA50210 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA50211 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA50215 - Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical)
    • MEA50411 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
    • MEA50415 - Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
    • MEA60211 - Advanced Diploma of Aviation Maintenance Management (Mechanical)
    • MEA60215 - 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
    • MEA30111 - Certificate III in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA30115 - Certificate III in Aircraft Surface Finishing
    • MEA30311 - Certificate III in Aircraft Life Support and Furnishing
    • MEA30315 - 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
    • MEA41211 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Armament)
    • MEA41213 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Armament)
    • MEA41311 - Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Structures)
    • MEA41315 - 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:

  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 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%.

MEA Aeroskills 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 and generic skills data have been extracted from the Aerospace IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 06 Dec 2018
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