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Overview

This page provides information and data on the Process Manufacturing sector, which is one component of the Manufacturing and Related Services industry.

Process manufacturing is the production of goods that are manufactured in bulk quantities from ingredients or raw substances, as opposed to goods manufactured in discrete and countable units from parts. The Process Manufacturing sector comprises a diverse range of sub-sectors including the processing of polymer, manufacturing of minerals, sourcing of raw materials and the process manufacturing of windows, doors, glass containers, food processing and others.

Nationally recognised training for the Process Manufacturing sector is delivered under the following training packages:

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

Information sourced from the Process Manufacturing, Recreational Vehicles and Laboratory IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecasts.

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

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

There are a variety of occupations that are relevant to employment in the process manufacturing area. At the same time, some of these occupations, for example, Production Managers, Management and Organisation Analysts and Science Technicians, employ people in broader roles than those just relevant to process manufacturing.   

There are, however, some occupations that are more specific to process manufacturing. The occupation of Sheetmetal Trades Workers has seen quite a degree of fluctuation in employment, particularly in recent years. For example, employment numbers rose from 9,000 in 2014 to 14,000 in 2015, dropped back to 4,900 in 2016, rose to 9,600 in 2018 and fell to its lowest level in 2019 of 3,300. The employment level for this occupation is predicted to increase to about 5,500 by 2024. The occupation of Plastics and Rubber Factory Workers has seen a gradual decline in employment numbers from 7,200 in 2000 to 3,400 in 2019, and is predicted to further decline to approximately 3,200 by 2024.

The occupation of Chemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Generation Plant Operators has seen a gradual increase in employment numbers over time, from 7,100 in 2000 to 8,000 in 2019, with a predicted decrease to about 7,800 by 2024. The occupation of Clay, Concrete, Glass and Stone Processing Machine Operators has declined in employment numbers from 5,200 in 2000 to 4,400 in 2018, and is predicted increase to approximately 4,700 by 2024.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in Process Manufacturing-related qualifications have fallen from about 16,850 in 2015 to 10,460 in 2018. Program completions fell from over 5,540 in 2015 to around 4,790 in 2016, and while 2017 saw an increase on the previous year to close to 5,830, completions fell again in 2018 to approximately 5,180.

The total numbers of program enrolments are an agglomeration of activity from four training packages. These largely align to the qualification clusters shown in the charts. The exception is Polymer Processing Technology which also includes, in addition to qualifications from the PMB – Plastics, Rubber and Cablemaking Training Package, qualifications in process manufacturing from the MSA/MSM – Manufacturing Training Package.

During 2018, the largest number of enrolments were in qualifications related to Polymer Processing Technology (5,740) followed by the areas of Process Plant Operations (2,340) and Manufacturing Technology (2,340). There were very few enrolments in qualifications related to Mineral Product Manufacturing and Refractories Engineering (30). In terms of qualification level, the largest number of enrolments were at certificate III (about 5,820), followed by certificate IV (just over 1,820).

There is a wide variety of intended occupations for the training. For qualifications related to Polymer Processing Technology, the most common intended occupation was Miscellaneous Factory Process Workers. In the area of Process Plant Operations, the most common intended occupation was Chemical Plant Operator.

For enrolments across all qualifications during 2018, 59% of training was done through private training providers with a further 21% delivered by TAFE institutes. There was variation by qualification/training package type though. For example, schools were particularly active in the area of Manufacturing Technology, providing 63% of the training, whereas 82% of training for qualifications relating to Polymer Processing Technology was delivered by private training providers. About 84% of the subjects were Commonwealth or state funded, with the rest largely being through domestic fee for service. About 55% of enrolments were by students from Queensland, with 19% from Victoria and 13% from Western Australia.

More than half of all training was delivered in Queensland (55%), followed by Victoria (18%) and Western Australia (14%).

Apprenticeship and traineeship commencements peaked in 2011 at 9,890, decreasing dramatically since then to just over 900 in 2017 before increasing slightly to 1,030 in 2018. Completions followed a similar trajectory, peaking in 2013 at 6,270, declining steeply to 440 in 2017 and increasing slightly to 480 in 2018. Apprenticeship and traineeship activity was most commonly in the areas of Polymer Processing Technology (810) and Process Plant Operations (about 590) with the intended occupations of Chemical Plant Operator, Miscellaneous Factory Process Workers, or Plastics Production Machine Operator (General). Western Australia reported 31% of apprenticeship and traineeship training, followed by Queensland (26%) and Victoria (19%).

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 Process Manufacturing, Recreational Vehicles and Laboratory IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast reports there is increasing demand within the Process Manufacturing sector for generic skills to complement and support industry specific technical skills and knowledge. The following generic workforce skills were identified as the five most important:

  • Technology
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/Systems thinking/Solving problems skills
  • Managerial/Leadership skills
  • Language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills
  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Additionally, the top priority skills for Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining-related qualifications included understanding/working with automation, safety, language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) and environmental sustainability.

The Process Manufacturing, Recreational Vehicles and Laboratory IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecasts also highlight changes in skills development needs for specific sub-sectors through the Training Product Review activities. The changes are predominantly due to technological change, particularly through automation, but also include skills shortages and changing and emerging job roles. There are three skills forecasts in that cover the Process Manufacturing sector. Training package development activities from the Process Manufacturing, Recreational Vehicles and Laboratory IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast – MSM – Manufacturing Training Package include:

  • Manufacturing 2017 Project (Fenestration) – run in conjunction with the Furnishing Training Package review, this project involved the development of a certificate III level qualification in fenestration to address increase in demand in the window and door manufacturing sector producing a shortage of trained fabricators. The Case for Endorsement has been approved by the AISC.
  • Manufactured Mineral Products 2017 Project – the manufactured mineral products sub-sector has been reshaped by significant retraction and amalgamation due to some sections such as automotive glass manufacturing significantly reducing, discontinuing or moving operations offshore, the transition of the resources sector from construction to production, robotics and automation, and import competition. Although enrolment numbers have been in decline and users of the training package are predominately a small number of large operators in cement and precast concrete, there is still demand for a specific stream for this sub-sector. The Case for Endorsement has been approved by the AISC, resulting in units relevant to the sub-sector have been brought into the MSM Training Package and the PMC Training Package has been deleted.

The MSM Manufacturing Training Package also includes a number of skill sets. The following have changes in skill needs:

  • High Pressure Water Jetting – emerging job roles in digging holes for telecommunications infrastructure using high pressure water jetting, identified in the Case for Change
  • Trade Measurement – job roles in trade measurement inspection and verification may potentially be affected by changes to legislation that could arise from the Measurement Law Review.

Training package development activities from the Process Manufacturing, Recreational Vehicles and Laboratory IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast – PMA – Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining Training Package include:

  • Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining 2017 project – To align training with contemporary work practices, technological advances and industry requirements, 5 new units of competency and 1 skill set to support skills in digital technologies and data analytics are in the process of development.
  • Redevelopment of PMA Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining Qualifications – The growing use of remote operations in the oil and gas sector and the changing work of control room operators with automation and optimisation as drivers for different skills, along with stakeholder feedback, have indicated the development of new units of competency to meet industry needs in the coal seam gas sub-sector are required.

Training package development activities from the Process Manufacturing, Recreational Vehicles and Laboratory IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast – PMB – Plastics, Rubber and Cablemaking Training Package include:

  • Skills for the Polymer Industry Project – to remain competitive in a global market, Australian businesses are reliant on new technologies and their workers to possess a high level of skill to reduce production time and minimise wastage. The Case for Change for this project states there will be a review the Plastics, Rubber and Cablemaking Training Package to address the sub-sector’s changing skill needs, particularly in relation to automation.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

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

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • 1335 Production Managers
    • 2247 Management and Organisation Analysts
    • 3114 Science Technicians
    • 3129 Other Building and Engineering Technicians
    • 3222 Sheetmetal Trades Workers
    • 3992 Chemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Generation Plant Operators
    • 3999 Other Miscellaneous Technicians and Trades Workers
    • 7111 Clay, Concrete, Glass and Stone Processing Machine Operators
    • 7119 Other Machine Operators
    • 8392 Plastics and Rubber Factory Workers
    • 8399 Other Factory Process Workers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), sex, state and territory, August 1986 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 – EQ08, viewed 1 November 2018 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202018?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSCO, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter
    • 1335 Production Managers
    • 2247 Management and Organisation Analysts
    • 3114 Science Technicians
    • 3129 Other Building and Engineering Technicians
    • 3222 Sheetmetal Trades Workers
    • 3992 Chemical, Gas, Petroleum and Power Generation Plant Operators
    • 3999 Other Miscellaneous Technicians and Trades Workers
    • 7111 Clay, Concrete, Glass and Stone Processing Machine Operators
    • 7119 Other Machine Operators
    • 8392 Plastics and Rubber Factory Workers
    • 8399 Other Factory Process Workers.

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

  • MSA – Manufacturing Training package
  • MSM – Manufacturing Training Package
  • PMA – Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining Training Package
  • PMB – Plastics, Rubber and Cablemaking Training Package
  • PMC – Manufactured Mineral Products Training Package.

The qualifications have been grouped under the following headings:

  • Manufacturing technology
    • MCM20105 - Certificate II in Manufacturing Technology
    • MSA10107 - Certificate I in Manufacturing (Pathways)
    • MSA20208 - Certificate II in Manufacturing Technology
    • MSA30208 - Certificate III in Manufacturing Technology
    • MSA40108 - Certificate IV in Manufacturing Technology
    • MSA50108 - Diploma of Manufacturing Technology
    • MSM10216 - Certificate I in Manufacturing (Pathways)
    • MSM20216 - Certificate II in Manufacturing Technology
  • Mineral product manufacturing and refractories engineering
    • MSM30318 - Certificate III in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC10104 - Certificate I in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC10199 - Certificate I in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC20104 - Certificate II in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC20110 - Certificate II in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC20116 - Certificate II in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC20199 - Certificate II in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC30104 - Certificate III in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC30110 - Certificate III in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC30116 - Certificate III in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC30199 - Certificate III in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC40104 - Certificate IV in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC40110 - Certificate IV in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC40116 - Certificate IV in Manufactured Mineral Products
  • Polymer processing technology
    • MSA10207 - Certificate I in Process Manufacturing
    • MSA20107 - Certificate II in Process Manufacturing
    • MSA30107 - Certificate III in Process Manufacturing
    • MSA30309 - Certificate III in Surface Preparation and Coating Application
    • MSA40311 - Certificate IV in Process Manufacturing
    • MSM10116 - Certificate I in Process Manufacturing
    • MSM20116 - Certificate II in Process Manufacturing
    • MSM30116 - Certificate III in Process Manufacturing
    • MSM30216 - Certificate III in Surface Preparation and Coating Application
    • MSM40116 - Certificate IV in Process Manufacturing
    • PMB20107 - Certificate II in Polymer Processing
    • PMB20116 - Certificate II in Polymer Processing
    • PMB30107 - Certificate III in Polymer Processing
    • PMB30116 - Certificate III in Polymer Processing
    • PMB40107 - Certificate IV in Polymer Technology
    • PMB40116 - Certificate IV in Polymer Technology
    • PMB50101 - Diploma of Polymer Technology
    • PMB50107 - Diploma of Polymer Technology
    • PMB50116 - Diploma of Polymer Technology
    • PMB60101 - Advanced Diploma of Polymer Technology
    • PMB60107 - Advanced Diploma of Polymer Technology
    • PMB60116 - Advanced Diploma of Polymer Technology
  • Process plant operations
    • PMA20102 - Certificate II in Process Plant Operations
    • PMA20108 - Certificate II in Process Plant Operations
    • PMA20113 - Certificate II in Process Plant Operations
    • PMA20116 - Certificate II in Process Plant Operations
    • PMA30102 - Certificate III in Process Plant Operations
    • PMA30108 - Certificate III in Process Plant Operations
    • PMA30113 - Certificate III in Process Plant Operations
    • PMA30116 - Certificate III in Process Plant Operations
    • PMA30198 - Certificate III in Process Plant Operations
    • PMA40102 - Certificate IV in Process Plant Technology
    • PMA40108 - Certificate IV in Process Plant Technology
    • PMA40113 - Certificate IV in Process Plant Technology
    • PMA40116 - Certificate IV in Process Plant Technology
    • PMA40198 - Certificate IV in Process Plant Technology
    • PMA50102 - Diploma of Process Plant Technology
    • PMA50108 - Diploma of Process Plant Technology
    • PMA50116 - Diploma of Process Plant Technology
    • PMA60102 - Advanced Diploma of Process Plant Technology
    • PMA60108 - Advanced Diploma of Process Plant Technology
    • PMA60116 - Advanced Diploma of Process Plant Technology.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 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%.

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

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions 
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority and generic skills data have been extracted from:

Updated: 31 Mar 2020
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