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Metal, Engineering and Boating Industries

Overview

This page provides information and data on the Metal, Engineering and Boating industries, which is a component of the broader Manufacturing industry.

Metals, Engineering and Boating is a diverse industry that employs some 350,000 people across Australia. It includes people from the initial conceiving and designing phase of products, through to manufacture, assembly, installation, repair, packaging, and selling manufactured products.  Coverage includes most of the sub-sectors or ‘classes’ within the following Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) subdivisions and groups:

  • Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing
  • Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing – Including Key and Lock Manufacturing
  • Other Transport Equipment Manufacturing – Including Shipbuilding and Boatbuilding
  • Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing
  • Other Manufacturing – Including Jewellery and Silverware Manufacturing
  • Repair and Maintenance – Including Watch and Clock Service and Repair, and Key Duplication.

People with metal and engineering skills do, however, work across other industries not captured in those listed above such as construction, mining, agriculture, health, food, and hospitality.

Nationally recognised training for the Metal, Engineering and Boating industries is delivered under the MEM – Manufacturing and Engineering Training Package, and MEM05 – Metal and Engineering Training Package.

For information on other manufacturing industry sectors please visit the Manufacturing and Related Services cluster page, the Automotive cluster page, and the Food and Pharmaceutical Production cluster page.

Information sourced from the Manufacturing and Engineering IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and skills forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

There has been quite a degree of fluctuation in employment numbers between 2000 and 2018 for the various sectors of the Metal, Engineering and Boating industry. For all sectors, except for Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing, employment levels were lower in 2018 than they were in 2000. It should also be noted that the industry employment numbers do not represent all those employed in metals and engineering as they are employed across other industry sectors as well.

Employment levels for the Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing, Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing, and Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing sectors are predicted to decline between 2018 and 2023. Employment levels in the Transport Equipment Manufacturing and Transport Equipment Manufacturing sectors are predicted to increase between 2018 and 2023.

All occupations in the Transport Equipment Manufacturing sector are predicted to see an increase in employment between 2018 and 2013, with the strongest growth predicted for Structural Steel and Welding Trades Workers at 4.8%.

Employment numbers in four of the occupations in the Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing sector, namely Structural Steel and Welding Trades Workers, Metal Fitters and Machinists, Production Managers, and Product Assemblers, are predicted to increase over the next five years. The strongest growth is predicted for Product Assemblers at 6.3%. A decline is predicted in the other three sectors, with Industrial Spraypainters predicted to decline by 3.9%, Metal Engineering Process Workers by 14.6% and Engineering Production Workers by 23.9%.

All occupations in the Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing sector are predicted to see an increase in employment between 2018 and 2013, except for Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers which is predicted to decline by 7.2%.

Employment numbers in four of the occupations in the Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance sector, namely Metal Fitters and Machinists, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics, Electricians, and Structural Steel and Welding Trades Workers, are predicted to increase over the next five years. The strongest growth is predicted for Structural Steel and Welding Trades Workers at 4.8%. A decline is predicted in the other three sectors, with Precision Metal Trades Workers and Clothing Trades Workers predicted to decline by 6.2% and Electronics Trades Workers by 5.2%.

All occupations in the Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing sector are predicted to see an increase in employment between 2018 and 2013, except for Engineering Production Workers and Metal Engineering Process Workers which are predicted to decline by 23.9% and 14.6% respectively.

Training snapshot

Numbers of both program enrolments and program completions have declined over the period 2014–17, to approximately 55,500 and 14,200 during 2017. The most common qualification level for program enrolments in 2017 was at the certificate III level, however, there were also large numbers of enrolments at the certificate I and II level, which are the engineering pathway qualifications.  Indeed, engineering pathways was the most common cluster of qualifications after engineering trades. The most common intended occupation for engineering pathways was Metal Engineering Process Worker, and for Engineering trades it was Mechanical Engineering Trades Worker followed by Sheetmetal Trades Worker.      

For enrolments during 2017, over half of the qualifications were provided by TAFE institutes, with just over a fifth delivered by private providers, and a further 17% took place in schools. This varied by type of qualification, however, with schools accounting for 37% of the enrolments in engineering pathways-related qualifications. Over three-quarters of subjects were government funded and almost 13% was funded by domestic fee-for-service.

During 2017, just over a third (37%) of students who enrolled were from Queensland, with students from New South Wales (21%), Western Australia (16%) and Victoria (13%) accounting for the majority of the rest of the enrolments.

There were just over 6,800 apprenticeship commencements during 2017, an increase on the previous year, however numbers remain well below the levels seen between 2010–12. Completions decreased on the previous year to 4,770, their lowest annual total in the past eight years. Most of the apprenticeships were aimed at the intended occupations of Mechanical Engineering Trades Workers, and Sheetmetal Trades Workers. As at December 2017, the largest amount of apprenticeship activity was reported from Queensland (30%), with a further 26% 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 Manufacturing and Engineering IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast identified the following skill development priorities over the next three years:

  • Welding
  • Technician skills
  • Trainer, Supervisor and Coordinator skills
  • Non-destructive testing
  • Planning, scheduling, logistics and supply chain management
  • Maintenance and diagnostics skills
  • Mechatronics
  • Design and drafting skills
  • Computer-aided manufacturing
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Jewellery manufacture business basics
  • New industrial electrician requirements
  • Composite materials
  • Electroplating
  • Mobile machinery and drones
  • Hydraulic hose fabrication
  • Underpinning skills (including mathematics, problem-solving, interpretation of supplied information, timekeeping, goal-setting, customer service skills, and project management skills).

In terms of generic skills, literacy (including computer literacy and information literacy), along with problem solving skills were identified as particularly important by both the IRC skills forecast and employers in job advertisements.

The IRC Skills Forecast reports that technology changes may require a new understanding of the ways in which skills can be applied, as well as new combinations of skills, particularly in the areas of mechanical and electronic skills. Areas in which technology is resulting in changing work practices that may impact on skills demands are:

  • Design and drafting skills
  • Non-destructive testing
  • Locksmithing.

There has been significant growth in the shipbuilding sector, which is projected to continue, driven by demand from the Australian Defence Force. The Naval Shipbuilding Plan released on 16 May 2017, outlines the Government’s vision for the Australian naval shipbuilding enterprise and the significant investment required in coming decades. The plan outlines government investment of:

  • around $90 billion in new naval ships and submarines
  • more than $1 billion in modern shipyard infrastructure
  • up to $62 million in workforce growth and skilling initiatives to enable the delivery of these platforms.

A Naval Shipbuilding IRC has been established to ensure the VET system is meeting the specific skill needs of the Naval Shipbuilding sector. PwC Skills for Australia is the Skills Service Organisation for the Naval Shipbuilding sector and represents the Naval Shipbuilding IRC.

The Naval Shipbuilding College, established by the Australian Government, will identify and close gaps between the educational and training courses currently offered in Australia, and the required skills and expertise needed by the growing Australian shipbuilding industry. Three skill areas identified by the college as being of critical importance to the Shipbuilding sector are: welding, pipefitting, and marine engineering.

The Naval Shipbuilding Plan discusses the workforce and skilling implications of the naval shipbuilding industry that will be located in Adelaide. Skills needed for this industry include those relevant to metals, engineering and boatbuilding. It is expected that the workforce will be a combination of existing workers (for example from industries in a downturn such as automotive manufacturing) and entry level workers in the trades and professions.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  

  • by ANZSIC 2 and 3 digit industries, employment projections to May 2023
    • 21 Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 22 Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 23 Transport Equipment Manufacturing (less 231 Motor Vehicle and Motor Vehicle Part Manufacturing)
    • 24 Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing
    • 942 Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, 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  2 and 3 digit industries, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter
    • 21 Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 22 Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 23 Transport Equipment Manufacturing (less 231 Motor Vehicle and Motor Vehicle Part Manufacturing)
    • 24 Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing
    • 942 Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance.

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

  • Employment level by 2 and 3 digit industries (as per above), and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

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

MEM – Manufacturing and Engineering Training Package; MEM05 – Metal and Engineering Training Package.

  • Boating Services
    • MEM10205 - Certificate I in Boating Services
    • MEM20303 - Certificate II in Boating Services
    • MEM20305 - Certificate II in Boating Services
    • MEM30905 - Certificate III in Boating Services
    • MEM40203 - Certificate IV in Boating Services
    • MEM40205 - Certificate IV in Boating Services
  • Engineering Pathways
    • MEM10105 - Certificate I in Engineering
    • MEM20105 - Certificate II in Engineering
    • MEM20413 - Certificate II in Engineering Pathways
    • MEM20205 - Certificate II in Engineering - Production Technology
    • MEM20198 - Certificate II in Engineering - Production
    • MEM20298 - Certificate II in Engineering - Production Technology
  • Engineering Production
    • MEM30105 - Certificate III in Engineering - Production Systems
    • MEM30198 - Certificate III in Engineering - Production Systems
  • Engineering Technical
    • MEM30505 - Certificate III in Engineering - Technical
    • MEM40412 - Certificate IV in Engineering Drafting
    • MEM50205 - Diploma of Engineering - Technical
    • MEM50211 - Diploma of Engineering - Technical
    • MEM50212 - Diploma of Engineering - Technical
    • MEM60105 - Advanced Diploma of Engineering
    • MEM60111 - Advanced Diploma of Engineering
    • MEM60112 - Advanced Diploma of Engineering
    • MEM30598 - Certificate III in Engineering – Technician
  • Engineering Trades
    • MEM30205 - Certificate III in Engineering - Mechanical Trade
    • MEM30298 - Certificate III in Engineering - Mechanical Trade
    • MEM30305 - Certificate III in Engineering - Fabrication Trade
    • MEM30398 - Certificate III in Engineering - Fabrication Trade
    • MEM30405 - Certificate III in Engineering - Electrical/Electronic Trade
    • MEM30705 - Certificate III in Marine Craft Construction
    • MEM30805 - Certificate III in Locksmithing
    • MEM31010 - Certificate III in Watch and Clock Service and Repair
    • MEM31112 - Certificate III in Engineering - Composites Trade
    • MEM31215 - Certificate III in Engineering - Industrial Electrician
    • MEM40105 - Certificate IV in Engineering
    • MEM50105 - Diploma of Engineering - Advanced Trade
    • MEM30498 - Certificate III in Engineering - Electrical/Electronic Trade
    • MEM40103 - Certificate IV in Engineering
    • MEM40198 - Certificate IV in Engineering - Higher Engineering Trade
  • Jewellery Manufacture and Design
    • MEM30605 - Certificate III in Jewellery Manufacture
    • MEM40311 - Certificate IV in Advanced Jewellery Manufacture
    • MEM50311 - Diploma of Jewellery and Object Design
    • MEM60211 - Advanced Diploma of Jewellery and Object Design
    • MEM30803 - Certificate III in Jewellery Manufacture.

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%.

MEM Manufacturing and Engineering Training Package; and MEM05  Metal and Engineering 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 and generic skills data have been extracted from the Manufacturing and Engineering IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018, <https://www.burning-glass.com>.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • 21 Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 22 Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 23 Transport Equipment Manufacturing (excluding 2313 Automotive Electrical Components Manufacturing; 2311 Motor Vehicle Manufacturing; 2312 Motor Vehicle Body and Trailer Manufacturing; 2319 Other Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing)
    • 24 Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing
    • 9421 Domestic Appliance Repair and Maintenance
    • 9422 Electronic (except Domestic Appliance) and Precision Equipment Repair and Maintenance
    • 9429 Other Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance
    • ANZSCO major groups excluding Clerical and Administrative Workers; Professionals; Managers; Community and Personal Service Workers.
  • Employers
    • 6113 Sales Representatives
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 3129 Other Building and Engineering Technicians
    • 3411 Electricians.
    • 21 Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 22 Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 23 Transport Equipment Manufacturing (excluding 2313 Automotive Electrical Components Manufacturing; 2311 Motor Vehicle Manufacturing; 2312 Motor Vehicle Body and Trailer Manufacturing; 2319 Other Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing)
    • 24 Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing
    • 9421 Domestic Appliance Repair and Maintenance
    • 9422 Electronic (except Domestic Appliance) and Precision Equipment Repair and Maintenance
    • 9429 Other Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance.
Updated: 19 Dec 2018
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