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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 Vehicle and Laboratory 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 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, and rose to 9,600 in 2018. The employment level for this occupation is predicted to decline to about 8,500 by 2023. The occupation of Plastics and Rubber Factory Workers has seen a gradual decline in employment numbers from 7,200 in 2000 to 4,100 in 2018, and is predicted to further decline to approximately 3,700 by 2023.

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 7,700 in 2018, with a predicted increase to about 8,700 by 2023. The occupation of Clay, Concrete, Glass and Stone Processing Machine Operators has declined in employment numbers from 5,200 in 2000 to 2,700 in 2018, but is predicted to nearly double to approximately 5,000 by 2023.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in Process Manufacturing-related qualifications have fallen from about 23,500 in 2014 to 12,500 in 2017; a drop of nearly a half. Program completions fell from over 6,600 in 2014 to around 4,800 in 2016, although 2017 saw an increase on the previous year to over 5,600.

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 2017, the largest number of enrolments were in qualifications related to polymer processing technology (6,597) followed by the area of manufacturing technology (3,152). There were very few enrolments in qualifications related to mineral product manufacturing. In terms of qualification level, the largest number of enrolments were at certificate III (about 6,400), followed by certificate IV (just under 3,000).

There is a wide variety of intended occupations for the training. For qualifications related to process plant operations the most common intended occupation was Chemical Plant Operator. In the area of polymer processing technology, the most common intended occupation was Miscellaneous Factory Process Workers.

For enrolments across all qualifications during 2017, 62% 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 over half of the training, whereas the majority of training for qualifications relating to polymer processing technology was delivered by private training providers. About 80% of the subjects were funded by commonwealth or state government, with the rest largely being through domestic fee-for-service. Half of enrolments were by students from Queensland, and almost a quarter were from Victoria.

Apprenticeship and traineeship commencements peaked in 2011 at 9,887 and have decreased dramatically since then to just over 900 in 2017. Completions followed a similar trajectory, peaking in 2013 at 6,266, then declining steeply to 445 in 2017. During 2017, the majority of apprenticeship and traineeship activity was in the areas of polymer processing technology and process plant operations. The most common intended occupations for apprentices and trainees were Miscellaneous Factory Process Workers, Chemical Plant Operator, or Plastics Production Machine Operator (General). Just under 45% of apprenticeship and traineeship training was reported from Western Australia.

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 Process Manufacturing, Recreational Vehicle and Laboratory IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast reports there is an 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 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.

Changing skill needs arising from new technology and more automated production methods was a common theme in all the skill forecasts relating to the Process Manufacturing sector. For example, workers in the Plastics, Rubber and Cablemaking sub-sector increasingly require computer literacy skills to ensure they are able to work within more automated plants and integrate new technology into broader systems. Organisations within the Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining sub-sector are introducing new technologies, such as ‘control of work’ software, and equipment identification. This is creating demand for hybrid skills to accommodate changing job roles and the skills to maximise the use of the new technology. In the Cement and Lime Manufacturing sub-sector, demand for skills in new technology will be related to process 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
    • 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
    • MCM20105 - Certificate II in Manufacturing Technology
  • Mineral product manufacturing and refractories engineering
    • PMC20110 - 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
    • PMC10104 - Certificate I in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC10199 - Certificate I in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC20104 - Certificate II in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC20116 - Certificate II in Manufactured Mineral Products
    • PMC20199 - Certificate II in Manufactured Mineral Products
  • Polymer processing technology
    • PMB50101 - Diploma of Polymer Technology
    • PMB60101 - Advanced Diploma of Polymer Technology
    • PMB60116 - Advanced Diploma of Polymer 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
    • PMB50107 - Diploma of Polymer Technology
    • PMB50116 - Diploma of Polymer Technology
    • PMB60107 - Advanced Diploma of Polymer Technology
  • Process plant operations
    • PMA20102 - Certificate II in Process Plant Operations
    • PMA30198 - Certificate III in Process Plant Operations
    • PMA40102 - Certificate IV in Process Plant Technology
    • PMA40198 - Certificate IV in Process Plant Technology
    • PMA50102 - Diploma of Process Plant Technology
    • 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
    • PMA40108 - Certificate IV in Process Plant Technology
    • PMA40113 - Certificate IV in Process Plant Technology
    • PMA40116 - Certificate IV in 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:

  • 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%.

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:

Updated: 19 Dec 2018
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