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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 oil and gas, mineral exploration and production (including coal), geothermal energy production, water well drilling, civil infrastructure and agriculture. 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.  Future growth in this sector will be driven by major Liquid National Gas projects.

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 Infrastructure, Coal Mining, Extractive Industries and Metalliferous 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 most recently available Skills Forecast, the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and skills forecasts

The Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure 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.

Drilling IRC

Employment trends

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

Employment snapshot

The employment level in the Exploration and Other Mining Support Services industry sectors increased substantially between 2000 and 2016. The employment level in the Exploration industry sector declined sharply from 33,500 in 2016 to around 9,800 in 2019, however has increased to approximately 18,800 in 2020. The Other Mining Support Services rose sharply in 2018 but has declined overall to 26,900 in 2020. The employment level for the Exploration and Other Mining Support Services industry sectors are projected to decrease until 2024, to around 15,600 and 23,300 respectively.

The most common VET-related occupation, 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 until 2024 by around 10%. Metal Fitters and Machinists and Other Construction and Mining Labourers, with nearly 8% and 4% of the industry sector workforce, are projected to increase by around 4% and 2% respectively.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were roughly 5,240 enrolments in Drilling-related qualifications during 2019 and approximately 1,230 completions. Both enrolment and completion numbers have seen substantial declines between 2015 and 2017 but have increased between 2017 and 2019. The majority of enrolments took place at the certificate II level (67%). The main qualification areas were Drilling Oil/Gas (On shore) (44%) and Drilling Operations/Management (43%). The main intended occupations for the training were Driller or Driller’s Assistant.

In 2019, private training providers delivered nearly 92% of training, with most of the remaining portion delivered by enterprise training providers. Over 92% of subjects were funded via domestic fee for service. More than 62% of students who enrolled during 2019 resided in Queensland and 20% resided in Western Australia.

Training was mainly delivered in Queensland (66%), with a further 20% delivered in Western Australia.

There were roughly 810 apprenticeship and traineeship commencements during 2019, a decrease on the previous two years. There were approximately 310 completions during 2019, a slight decrease on the 330 completions in 2018. As at December 2019, nearly 80% of training was reported in Western Australia and apprentices and trainees were training towards the occupations of Driller or Driller’s Assistant.

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 Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast identifies the top priority skills for the Drilling sector as:

  • Digital literacy
  • Workplace safety practices
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving
  • Environmental sustainability.

The top generic skills listed in the Skills Forecast in order of importance to the industry are:

  • Language, literacy and numeracy
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Technology
  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers were communication and planning. The most advertised occupations in the Drilling sector were Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers, followed by Other Miscellaneous Labourers and Metal Fitters and Machinists. The top employers for workers in this industry were Barminco Underground Mining Specialists and Pybar Mining Services.

The Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast also identifies several key issues affecting the skills and training needs within the Drilling sector:

  • The emergence of new technologies such as sonic drilling, coil tube drilling and cyber-chair drilling is driving a need for skills in their operation and the maintenance and programming of the new equipment used on site.
  • With the industry moving towards the use of autonomous drill rigs, there is an increasing need for workers with skills in interpreting data from machines.
  • Industry has highlighted the need for training to be more closely aligned to the requirements of job roles for individuals in managerial and leadership positions and for well-servicing workers.

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

Links and resources

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

 

Regulators

Australian Explosives Industry and Safety Group (AEISG)

NSW Mining and Petroleum Competence Board

Northern Territory Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy

South Australia Department for Environment and Water

Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment

Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Water NSW

Western Australian Department of Water and Environmental Regulation

 

Safety regulators

Access Canberra

NT WorkSafe

Safe Work Australia

SafeWork SA

SafeWork NSW

WorkCover Queensland

WorkSafe Tasmania

WorkSafe Victoria

WorkSafe Western Australia

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

For industry associations and advisory bodies specific to Civil Infrastructure, Coal Mining, Extractive Industries and Metalliferous Mining sectors, please visit the respective pages.

 

Australasian Society for Trenchless Technology (ASTT)

Australian Drilling Industry Association (ADIA)

International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC)

National Uniform Driller Licensing Committee (NUDLC)

Piling and Foundation Specialists Federation (PFSF)

 

State Training Advisory Bodies

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)

Data sources and notes

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

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2024
    • 101 Exploration
    • 109 Other Mining Support Services.
  • by ANZSCO, selected 4 digit occupations, employment projections to May 2024
    • 7122 Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 8219 Other Construction and Mining Labourers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, 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, 2000 to 2020, 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:

  • Drilling Oil/Gas (On shore)
    • 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)
    • 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)
    • RII32018 - Certificate III in Drilling Oil/Gas (Onshore)
    • 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)
    • RII50809 - Diploma of Drilling Oil/Gas (On shore)
    • RII50813 - Diploma of Drilling Oil & Gas (On shore)
    • RII50815 - Diploma of Drilling Oil & Gas (On shore).
  • Drilling Operations/Management
    • RII20909 - Certificate II in Drilling Operations
    • RII20913 - Certificate II in Drilling Operations
    • RII20915 - Certificate II in Drilling Operations
    • RII31809 - Certificate III in Drilling Operations
    • RII31813 - Certificate III in Drilling Operations
    • RII31815 - Certificate III in Drilling Operations
    • RII40909 - Certificate IV in Drilling Operations
    • RII40913 - Certificate IV in Drilling Operations
    • RII40915 - Certificate IV in Drilling Operations
    • RII50609 - Diploma of Drilling Operations
    • RII50613 - Diploma of Drilling Operations
    • RII50615 - Diploma of Drilling Operations
    • RII60409 - Advanced Diploma of Drilling Management
    • RII60413 - Advanced Diploma of Drilling Management
    • RII60415 - Advanced Diploma of Drilling Management.
  • Well Servicing Operations
    • RII21213 - Certificate II in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII21215 - Certificate II in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII32213 - Certificate III in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII32215 - Certificate III in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII32218 - Certificate III in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII41213 - Certificate IV in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII41215 - Certificate IV in Well Servicing Operations
    • RII51013 - Diploma of Well Servicing Operations
    • RII51015 - Diploma of Well Servicing Operations.

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. 

RII Resources and Infrastructure Industry 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.

Generic skills data have been extracted from the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2020, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2020, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2017 and June 2020 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • Labourers, Machinery Operators and Drivers, Technicians and Trades Workers
    • 10 Exploration and Other Mining Support Services.
  • Employers
    • 7122 Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 8999 Other Miscellaneous Labourers
    • 3129 Other Building and Engineering Technicians
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 10 Exploration and Other Mining Support Services.
Updated: 30 Nov 2020
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