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Textiles, Clothing and Footwear

Overview

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

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

  • Production of clothing, textiles, footwear, leather goods and specialised technical textiles
  • Provision of services including dry cleaning and laundry operations, fashion and textile design, and clothing and footwear repairs
  • Processing and manufacturing of natural (wool, cotton and leather) and synthetic materials such as PVC and shade cloth.

There were approximately 14,000 businesses operating in the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear sector at the end of June 2017, employing 38,800 people in 2017-2018. More than 30% of Textile Processing and Manufacturing businesses are based in Victoria and more than one third of TCF Production businesses based in New South Wales. Victoria is the base for 43% of the Textile Processing and Manufacturing workforce and 35% of the TCF Production workforce.

Nationally recognised training for the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear sector is delivered under:

For information on other areas of manufacturing, visit the following cluster pages:

Information sourced from the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

IRC and skills forecasts

The Textiles, Clothing and Footwear IRC was not required to submit an annual update to their 2019 Skills Forecast during 2020. As such, the version published in 2019 remains the most recently published Skills Forecast for this industry.

Employment trends

Please note: any employment projections outlined below were calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics prior to COVID-19.

Employment snapshot

Employment in the Textile, Leather, Clothing and Footwear Manufacturing sector has been trending downwards over time. Employment numbers have declined three-fold from 92,600 in 2000 to 31,600 in 2020 and are predicted to further decline to 27,000 by 2024.

Within these industry sectors the two largest occupational groups are Sewing Machinists and Clothing Trades Workers. For Sewing Machinists there is predicted to be a decrease in employment numbers by 2024 of about 9%, while Clothing Trade Workers is predicted to remain largely the same (increase of less than 1%). The employment levels for Textile and Footwear Production Machine Operators and Canvas and Leather Goods Makers are also predicted to decrease between 2020 and 2024. Conversely, the employment level for Fashion, Industrial and Jewellery Designers is projected to increase by just over 20%.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in Textiles, Clothing and Footwear-related qualifications have trended downwards between 2015 and 2019, from approximately 7,360 in 2015 to 4,560 in 2019. Program completions have also declined between 2015 and 2019, from approximately 1,890 in 2015 to 1,290 in 2019. Enrolments in subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program have steadily declined, from approximately 68,190 in 2015 to 39,140 in 2019. On the other hand, enrolments in subjects not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program doubled between 2015 and 2016 (albeit off a low-base) and incrementally increased in 2017 before declining in 2018 and 2019 to 810.

Nearly half of all program enrolments in Textiles, Clothing and Footwear-related qualifications were at the Certificate II level (46%), followed by enrolments at the Diploma or higher level (23%) and Certificate III level (22%). The majority of the qualifications were in the area of Fashion Design (80%).

The most common intended occupation for the training was Sewing Machinist (39%), followed by Clothing Patternmaker (19%), then Dressmaker or Tailor (14%). However, there were also enrolments in courses that intended to lead to many other occupations including Clothing Trades Workers and Fashion Designer.

For enrolments during 2019, 70% of courses were delivered by TAFE institutes, followed by 16% delivered by private training providers. When considering all providers, 78% of subjects were government funded with a further 17% funded via domestic fee for service arrangements. However, a higher proportion of subjects delivered by TAFE institutes were Commonwealth and state funded (80%) than for private training providers (56%).

Over a third of students in 2019 resided in Victoria (38%), followed by New South Wales (18%) and Queensland (14%). More than two-fifths of training was delivered in Victoria (41%), followed by New South Wales (18%), and both Western Australia and Queensland (14% each).

The number of apprenticeship and traineeship commencements in the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear sector have declined considerably since 2010. In 2019, there were about one-tenth the number of commencements (74) than were reported in 2010. Similarly, the number of completions has decreased significantly between 2010 and 2019, from about 510 to 29. The most common intended occupation was Laundry Worker (General). During 2019, more than two-thirds of apprenticeship activity was reported by New South Wales (36%) and Western Australia (33%) and around a quarter was reported by Queensland (26%).

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

The Textiles, Clothing and Footwear IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identified the following skill development priorities over the next three years as Fashion business, including law and compliance and small business skills, use of new technologies and materials; ethical sourcing and supply chain management and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills. The top priority industry and occupation skills were identified as Industrial sewing, and advanced clothing production and garment alterations.

In addition, the five most important generic skills are listed as:

  • Technology
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/Systems thinking/Solving problems skills
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence skills
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management skills
  • Customer service/Marketing skills.

The workforce challenges and opportunities driving these skill development priorities predominantly are in relation to sustainability/social licence to operate, technology and new materials. Research and industry consultation conducted for the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast found that:

  • Opportunities exist for laundry and dry cleaning services, clothing and footwear repair businesses, manufacturers and designers that can successfully communicate their sustainability credentials to consumers who are increasingly interested in buying better-quality, longer-lasting garments and taking greater care around garment maintenance and repair, and is creating the need for employees with advanced production and repair skills, traditional craftsmanship, and sophisticated marketing skills
  • Australian research and development is exploring innovative solutions in areas such as separating blends of cotton-polyester material for recycling and water and energy saving technologies for processing natural fibres
  • With increasing consumer demand for ethical sourcing, the sector has access to cotton grown in Australia, which is internationally recognised as a premium product free from the use of child labour
  • Laundry and dry-cleaning services are increasing business efficiencies and expanding service offerings using data capture devices that are improving efficiency and volume capacity while also reducing emissions and energy consumption, and the use of RFID is assisting with stock control and traceability, which is important for infection containment
  • Automated CAD cutting and laser measuring equipment are enabling the production of new and customisable products for textile processors and manufacturers and employers need workers who can combine the ability to use new technology with traditional textile knowledge and skills
  • Technical textiles and nonwoven fibres are a thriving and fast-growing sector with innovation in new materials, processes and applications expanding non-traditional end-uses for both new and existing textile products, and research and development in areas such as carbon fibres and composites in clothing and footwear, functional fibrous materials used in medical textiles, super hydrophobic textiles and protective garments and gloves, nanofibers used in filtration, tissue engineering, energy generation and reinforcement sensors, biomedical applications of natural fibre structures.

Research and development relevant to the sector is being conducted at the Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre (AFFRIC), a collaboration between Deakin University and CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering supported by the Australian and Victorian governments. Current projects underway include:

  • Carbon fibres and composites – the world’s first dedicated pilot-scale research plant capable of producing aerospace-grade carbon fibre
  • Functional fibrous materials – medical textiles, super hydrophobic textiles, protective garments and gloves, and directional moisture management in fabrics and fibre-reinforced materials
  • Green natural fibres – environmentally friendly ways of processing natural fibres, such as cotton, silk, bamboo and hemp, fibre and textile processing, properties and applications
  • Nanofibres – a series of novel techniques and machines for making nanofibre nonwovens, fibre yarns and short nanofibers have been developed
  • Polymers- synthesis and characterisation of new polymer materials, advanced thermosets for high performance coatings, adhesives and composites, biodegradable polymers for biomedical applications and green processing of natural polymers.

Prior to the above research, the CSIRO has developed SportWool, a bi-layer knit fabric used for high performance clothing for elite athletes. The fabric is elastic, provides UV protection, does not retain odours and draws moisture to the outside of the fabric. The project that produced SportWool was completed in 1998, and the technology has since been adapted to a 100% cotton fabric.

Links and resources

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

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre (AFFRIC) – Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian 3D Manufacturing Association (A3DMA)

Australian Fashion Council

Australian Hide, Skin and Leather Exports Association

Blind Manufacturers’ Association of Australia

Design Institute of Australia

Dry Cleaning Institute of Australia

Laundry Association Australia

Millinery Association of Australia

Specialised Textiles Association

Technical Textiles and Nonwoven Textiles Association

 

Employee associations

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU)

 

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2020, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  

  • by ANZSIC 2 digit, 13 Textiles, Leather, Clothing and Footwear Manufacturing, employment projections to May 2024.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2019, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), sex, state and territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 – EQ06, viewed 1 August 2020 https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202020?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2 digit 13 Textiles, Leather, Clothing and Footwear Manufacturing, 2000 to 2020, 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 and LMT07 Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Training Package.
  • Clothing Production
    • LMT20607 - Certificate II in Clothing Production (Intermediate)
    • LMT20707 - Certificate II in Clothing Production (Complex or Multiple Processes)
    • LMT30507 - Certificate III in Clothing Production
    • LMT40307 - Certificate IV in Clothing Production
    • MST30116 - Certificate III in Clothing and Textile Production
    • MST40216 - Certificate IV in Clothing Production.
  • Fashion Design
    • LMT21706 - Certificate II in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT21707 - Certificate II in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT31407 - Certificate III in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT32011 - Certificate III in Digitising and Computerised Embroidery
    • LMT41006 - Certificate IV in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT41007 - Certificate IV in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT41107 - Certificate IV in Textile Design and Development
    • LMT41207 - Certificate IV in Fashion and Textiles Merchandising
    • LMT50307 - Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT50507 - Diploma of Textile Design and Development
    • LMT50607 - Diploma of Fashion and Textiles Merchandising
    • LMT60307 - Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT60407 - Advanced Diploma of Textile Design and Development
    • LMT60507 - Advanced Diploma of Fashion and Textiles Merchandising
    • MST20616 - Certificate II in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • MST30816 - Certificate III in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • MST40516 - Certificate IV in Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising
    • MST50116 - Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising
    • MST50216 - Diploma of Textile Design and Development
    • MST60116 - Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising
    • MST60216 - Advanced Diploma of Textile Design and Development.
  • Laundry and Dry Cleaning
    • LMT21410 - Certificate II in Laundry Operations
    • LMT21510 - Certificate II in Dry Cleaning Operations
    • LMT31107 - Certificate III in Laundry Operations
    • LMT31110 - Certificate III in Laundry Operations
    • LMT31210 - Certificate III in Dry Cleaning Operations
    • LMT40810 - Certificate IV in Laundry Operations and Supervision
    • MST20416 - Certificate II in Laundry Operations
    • MST30616 - Certificate III in Laundry Operations
    • MST30716 - Certificate III in Dry Cleaning Operations.
  • Other Textile
    • MST20116 - Certificate II in TCF Production Support
    • MST20216 - Certificate II in TCF Production Operations
    • MST20316 - Certificate II in Leather Production
    • MST20516 - Certificate II in TCF Services and Repair
    • MST30316 - Certificate III in Millinery
    • MST30416 - Certificate III in Footwear
    • MST30516 - Certificate III in Leather Production
    • MST40116 - Certificate IV in Textile Design, Development and Production
    • MST40316 - Certificate IV in Custom-Made Footwear
    • MST40416 - Certificate IV in Millinery.
  • Other Textile, Clothing and Footwear
    • LMT11107 - Certificate I in Textiles Clothing and Footwear
    • LMT20107 - Certificate II in Textile Production (Intermediate)
    • LMT20507 - Certificate II in Textile Fabrication
    • LMT20807 - Certificate II in Millinery
    • LMT21207 - Certificate II in Leather Production
    • LMT30107 - Certificate III in Textile Production
    • LMT30307 - Certificate III in Cotton Ginning
    • LMT30407 - Certificate III in Textile Fabrication
    • LMT30607 - Certificate III in Millinery
    • LMT30707 - Certificate III in Footwear Production
    • LMT30807 - Certificate III in Footwear Repair
    • LMT30907 - Certificate III in Leather Production
    • LMT31909 - Certificate III in Engineering - TCF Mechanic
    • LMT40107 - Certificate IV in Textile Technology and Production
    • LMT40407 - Certificate IV in Custom-made Footwear
    • LMT40707 - Certificate IV in Millinery
    • MST30216 - Certificate III in Manufactured Textile Products.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2015 to 2019 program enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 subject enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 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 2019 commencements
  • 2010 to 2019 completions 
  • 2019 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2019 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority and generic skills data have been extracted from the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 15 Dec 2020
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