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Textiles, Clothing and Footwear


This page provides high-level information on the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear industry.

The Textile, Clothing and Footwear industry has three main sub-sectors:

  • sectors which process natural and synthetic materials such as early stage wool processing, cotton ginning, hide, skin and leather
  • production sectors including clothing production, textile production, footwear production leather goods production and technical textiles
  • service sectors providing dry cleaning operations, laundry operations and footwear repair.       

Most business activity is located in Victoria and New South Wales. Most businesses are non-employing or micro or small businesses employing less than 20 people.

Nationally recognised training for the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear industry is delivered under the MST Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Training Package and the LMT07 Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Training Package

For information on other areas of manufacturing please visit the Manufacturing and related servicesAutomotive, and the Food and Pharmaceutical cluster pages.

Information sourced from the Textiles Clothing and Footwear 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

Employment in the Textiles, Leather, Clothing and Footwear manufacturing sector has been trending downwards over time. Indeed, employment numbers have dropped from 92,600 in 2000 to 36,700 in 2017. By 2022 employment is expected to be about 30,000.

Within these industry sectors the two largest occupational groups are Sewing Machinists and Clothing Trades workers. For both occupations there is expected to be a considerable decrease in employment numbers by 2022, in particular for Sewing Machinists. 

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments and program completions have dropped somewhat from 2014–2016. The largest numbers of enrolments in terms of qualification level were at the certificate II level, followed by diploma and above. The large majority of the qualifications were in the area of fashion (and textile) design.

The most likely intended occupations of the courses were Clothing Trades Workers followed by Sewing Machinists. However, there were also enrolments in courses intended to lead to the occupations of Fashion, Industrial and Jewellery Designers, and Laundry workers.

Over half of the courses were delivered by TAFE although there was also quite a lot delivered by private providers (just under 30%). In terms of funding source for subjects, about 65% was government funded with a further 31% being funded by domestic fee for service. The largest proportion of enrolments was by students located in Victoria (42%).

Apprenticeship commencements have dropped significantly since 2012 and indeed they more than halved between 2012 and 2013 with further falls after that. Similarly, completions have dropped over the same period. The large majority of apprentice training took place in Western Australia, Queensland and 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 IRC skills forecast identifies the following five skills as the most important for the next three to five years:

  • trade level skills for sewing machinists and ongoing upskilling of production workforce
  • design skills for business
  • small business skills
  • technical skills for the clothing industry
  • language, literacy and numeracy.

In addition, the following are five most important generic skills identified:

  • managerial/leadership
  • entrepreneurial
  • customer service/marketing
  • design mindset/thinking critically/system thinking/solving problems
  • environmental and sustainability.

The industry is being impacted by technology and other factors and consequently also the skill needs for the industry. These are outlined in the IRC skills forecast.

One of these is additive manufacturing or 3D printing. This has implications for digital literacy skills and coding as well as knowledge of polymer powders (used in 3D printing). Relevant to this, IBSA Manufacturing is leading the Digital Skills Cross Sector project. The cross sector project will obtain evidence and also show cross industry support for developing training package components to address workforce needs regarding digital skills. In particular, it will focus on:

  • digital literacy skills
  • additive manufacturing or 3D printing skills
  • programming/coding skills.

Another factor is the development of ‘smart’ clothing that uses new technologies. For example, the CSIRO has developed textiles to enhance the performance of clothing. One example of this is high performance clothing for elite athletes. It uses a product they developed known as Sportswool which is a bi-layer knit fabric.

Other factors affecting the industry that have implications for skill needs include:

  • the use of laser cutting requiring skills in Computer Aided Drafting (CAD)
  • ethical sourcing of materials and treatment of workers requiring skills in managing global supply chains
  • “green credentials” and the management of waste and resources
  • social media which is an avenue for marketing and promotion.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian 3D Manufacturing Association (A3DMA)

Australian Fashion Council

Design Institute of Australia

Laundry Association Australia


Employee associations

Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia

Data sources and notes

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

  • by ANZSIC 2 digit, 13 Textiles, Leather, Clothing and Footwear Manufacturing, employment projections to May 2022.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), sex, state and territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 – EQ06, viewed 1 September 2017 <>

  • Employed total by ANZISC 2 digit 13 Textiles, Leather, Clothing and Footwear Manufacturing, 2000 to 2017, May Quarter.

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 digit 13 Textiles, Leather, Clothing and Footwear Manufacturing, 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:

  • MST Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Training Package
  • LMT07 Textiles, Clothing and Footwear 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%.

MST and LMT07 Textiles, Clothing and Footwear 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 Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Industry Reference Committee’s 2017–2021 IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work.

Updated: 15 Oct 2018
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