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Overview

This page provides information and data on the Drilling sector, which is one component of the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure industry.

The Drilling sector includes both onshore and offshore drilling, as well as surface and underground drilling. Drilling is used in mineral exploration and production (including coal), geothermal energy production, water well drilling, civil infrastructure and agriculture. The value of the sector to the Australian economy was estimated at $31.9 billion in 2015. The drilling sector has a high proportion of contractors represented by several hundred smaller sized employers. There are also a handful of large scale companies engaged in bigger, more complex operations.

Vocational education and training (VET) is required for a range of Drilling sector related occupations such as:

  • Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers
  • Construction and Mining Labourers.

Nationally recognised training for Drilling is delivered under the RII - Resources and Infrastructure Industry Training Package

For more information on Civil InfrastructureExtractive IndustriesMetalliferous Mining, and Coal Mining sectors, please visit the respective pages.  For information and data on training qualifications that apply to multiple sectors within the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure industry please visit the Resources and Infrastructure Cross Sector page.

Information sourced from the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The employment level in the Exploration and Other Mining Support Services industry sectors increased by more than threefold and fivefold respectively between 2000 and 2017. The employment level for the Exploration industry sector is projected to increase further until 2022; however, a slight decline is projected for the Other Mining Support Services industry sector over the same period.

Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers made up approximately 17% of the Exploration and Other Mining Support Services industry sector workforce. The employment level in this occupation is projected to increase further until 2022.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were approximately 4,000 enrolments in Drilling sector qualifications during 2016 and more than 800 completions. Both enrolments and completions have more than halved between 2014 and 2016. A large proportion of the training takes place at the certificate II level.

During 2016, private training providers accounted for approximately two thirds of all training with the majority of the remaining third delivered by enterprise training providers. Nearly three quarters of training was funded by domestic fee for service. Over 70% of students that enrolled during 2016 were from Queensland.

Apprentice and trainee commencements and completions peaked in 2012 and 2013 respectively and have since declined until 2016. As at December 2016 over 70% of training was in Western Australia and most apprentices were training towards the occupations of Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers or Other Construction and Mining Labourers.

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

Infographic title: Priority skills: 2017 skills forecast,, Infographic data,, Title: Top priority skills,, technical capability including production skills and plant operation, workplace safety and compliance, information technology and technological change, leadership and management, foundation skills / language literacy and numeracy,, Title: Top generic skills,, communication / virtual collaboration / social intelligence, technology, managerial / leadership, design mindset / thinking critically / system thinking / solving problems, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (stem),, Infographic title: Skills and occupations in demand: job vacancies,, Title: Top 5 generic skills in demand,, communication skills, planning, organisational skills, computer skills, detail oriented,, Title: Top 5 occupations in demand,, metal fitters and machinists, miscellaneous laborers, drillers miners and shot firers, architectural, building and surveying technicians, other building and engineering technicians,, Title: Top 5 locations,, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Victoria,, Title: Top employers,,The Snowden Group, Ausdrill Limited, Inpex Corporation,, Priority skills source: Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2017, Job vacancy occupations in demand source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight Real Time Labor Market Information tool

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work, the top priority skills in the Drilling sector are:

  • technical capability including production skills and plant operation
  • workplace safety and compliance
  • information technology and technological change
  • leadership and management
  • foundation skills/language, literacy and numeracy.

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers were communication, and planning and organisation skills. The most advertised occupation in the Drilling sector was Metal Fitters and Machinists and the top locations were Western Australia and Queensland.

The Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work identifies a number of key issues affecting job demand and skills needs within the Drilling sector:

  • The sector will continue to transition from a construction to production phase over the next five years.  Labour demand for operation and maintenance roles is expected to pick up over this period replacing construction roles that were required to build the infrastructure.
  • There has been anecdotal evidence of a future demand for skills in the sector depending on the success of major liquid natural gas (LNG) projects and future global commodity prices. It is expected that onshore drilling will provide more opportunities in the future than offshore drilling.
  • The uptake of new technology and automation in the sector is likely to reduce demand for low skilled labour and increase demand for digital, analytical and software skills.

For insights on skill needs for the broader resources industry, please visit the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure cluster page.

Links and resources

Regulators

Access Canberra

Australian Explosives Industry and Safety Group (AEISG)

NT Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NT WorkSafe

QLD Department of Natural Resources and Mines

SA Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources

Safe Work Australia

SafeWork SA

TAS Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment

VIC Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation

Water NSW

WorkCover New South Wales

WorkSafe Tasmania

WorkSafe Victoria

Worksafe WA - Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australasian Society for Trenchless Technology (ASTT)

Australian Drilling Industry Association (ADIA)

Australian Drilling Industry Training Committee (ADITC)

International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC)

National Uniform Driller Licensing Committee (NUDLC)

NSW Mining and Petroleum Competence Board

Piling and Foundation Specialists Federation (PFSF)

 

State Training Advisory Bodies

Construction Industry Training Board (SA)

Energy Skills Queensland (ESQ)

Industry Skills Advisory Council Northern Territory (ISAC NT)

Resources Industry Training Council (RITCWA)

Resources and Infrastructure NSW Industry Training Advisory Body

 

Employee associations

Australian Workers' Union (AWU)

Construction Forestry Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU)

 

Relevant research

SkillsDMC 2015 environmental scan

SkillsDMC Resources and infrastructure: industry workforce analysis and forecast

Data sources and notes

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

  • employment projections to May 2022, by ANZSIC 3 digit industry:
    • 101 Exploration
    • 109 Other Mining Support Services.
  • by ANZSCO, selected 4 digit occupations, employment projections to May 2022:
    • 7122 Drillers Miners and Shot Firers
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 8219 Other Construction and Mining Labourers.

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 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202017?OpenDocument>.

  • Employed total, 2000 to 2017, May Quarter, by ANZSIC 3 digit industry:
    • 101 Exploration
    • 109 Other Mining Support Services.

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

  • Employment level by:
    • 10 Exploration and Other Mining Support Services
    • 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:

  • RII - Resources and Infrastructure Industry Training Package
    • RII20909 - Certificate II in Drilling Operations
    • RII20913 - Certificate II in Drilling Operations
    • RII20915 - Certificate II in Drilling Operations
    • RII21109 - Certificate II in Drilling Oil/Gas (On shore)
    • RII21113 - Certificate II in Drilling Oil/Gas (On shore)
    • RII21115 - Certificate II in Drilling Oil/Gas (On shore)
    • RII21213 - Certificate II in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII21215 - Certificate II in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII31809 - Certificate III in Drilling Operations
    • RII31813 - Certificate III in Drilling Operations
    • RII31815 - Certificate III in Drilling Operations
    • RII32009 - Certificate III in Drilling Oil/Gas (On shore)
    • RII32013 - Certificate III in Drilling Oil/Gas (On shore)
    • RII32015 - Certificate III in Drilling Oil/Gas (On shore)
    • RII32213 - Certificate III in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII32215 - Certificate III in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII40909 - Certificate IV in Drilling Operations
    • RII40913 - Certificate IV in Drilling Operations
    • RII40915 - Certificate IV in Drilling Operations
    • RII41109 - Certificate IV in Drilling Oil/Gas (On shore)
    • RII41113 - Certificate IV in Drilling Oil & Gas (On shore)
    • RII41115 - Certificate IV in Drilling Oil & Gas (On shore)
    • RII41213 - Certificate IV in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII41215 - Certificate IV in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII50609 - Diploma of Drilling Operations
    • RII50613 - Diploma of Drilling Operations
    • RII50615 - Diploma of Drilling Operations
    • RII50809 - Diploma of Drilling Oil/Gas (On shore)
    • RII50813 - Diploma of Drilling Oil & Gas (On shore)
    • RII50815 - Diploma of Drilling Oil & Gas (On shore)
    • RII51013 - Diploma of Well Servicing Operations
    • RII51015 - Diploma of Well Servicing Operations
    • RII60409 - Advanced Diploma of Drilling Management
    • RII60413 - Advanced Diploma of Drilling Management
    • RII60415 - Advanced Diploma of Drilling Management
  • DRT – Drilling Training Package
    • DRT20303 - Certificate II in Drilling - Geotechnical
    • DRT20498 - Certificate II in Drilling (Mineral Exploration)
    • DRT20503 - Certificate II in Drilling - Mineral Exploration
    • DRT20898 - Certificate II in Drilling (Waterwell)
    • DRT20998 - Certificate II in Drilling (Blast Hole)
    • DRT21103 - Certificate II in Drilling - Water Well
    • DRT30198 - Certificate III in Drilling (Environmental)
    • DRT30303 - Certificate III in Drilling - Geotechnical
    • DRT30398 - Certificate III in Drilling (Geotechnical)
    • DRT30498 - Certificate III in Drilling (Mineral Exploration)
    • DRT30503 - Certificate III in Drilling - Mineral Exploration
    • DRT30703 - Certificate III in Drilling - Blast Hole
    • DRT30898 - Certificate III in Drilling (Waterwell)
    • DRT30903 - Certificate III in Drilling - Oil/Gas On shore
    • DRT30998 - Certificate III in Drilling (Blast Hole)
    • DRT31103 - Certificate III in Drilling - Water Well
    • DRT40503 - Certificate IV in Drilling - Mineral Exploration
    • DRT40703 - Certificate IV in Drilling - Blast Hole
    • DRT40898 - Certificate IV in Drilling (Waterwell).

      Superseded qualifications and training packages are grouped with current training products.

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%.

RII Resources and Infrastructure Industry 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 Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work.

Burning Glass Technologies: Labour Insight – real-time labour market information tool <http://www.burning-glass.com> 2017.

  • Job advertisements from all of Australia from January 2014 to August 2017 are included in the analysis. Data shown is the top five advertised VET-related occupations (1–6 digit level Technicians and Trades Workers, Labourers and Machinery Operators and Drivers) in the Exploration and Other Mining Support Services sector and the top five locations and employers according to job advertisements.

Skills data has also been extracted from the Burning Glass labour insights job vacancy data tool. Data shown is the proportion of job advertisements which request generic skills for VET-related occupations (1–6 digit level Technicians and Trades Workers, Labourers and Machinery Operators and Drivers) in the Exploration and Other Mining Support Services sector.

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