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Printing and Graphic Arts

Overview

As one of the largest manufacturing sectors in Australia, the Printing and Graphic Arts industry is a significant contributor to many aspects of the Australian economy and workforce, with an estimated 6,500 businesses in operation and almost 27,000 people employed in related occupations.

The industry facilitates the effective communication of messages through a range of media platforms and assists creative industries to deliver their products. There are many possible specialisations within the industry, including desktop publishing, digital printing, graphic pre-press, multimedia, print finishing, print production support, printing, and screen printing.

As different parts of the sector are contracting, growing or transforming in response to external forces, it is important that vocational education and training (VET) reflects an understanding of this industry change and the necessary adaptability and sustainability of the industry itself.

Nationally recognised training for the Printing and Graphic Arts industry is delivered under the ICP – Printing and Graphic Arts Training Package.

For graphic and other design, see Visual Arts, Craft and Design.

Information sourced from the Printing and Graphic Arts IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Overall, employment in the Printing and Graphic Arts industry fell between 2000 and 2018, and this trend is predicted to continue to 2023. 2017 did see a slight increase in employment as compared to the preceding five years, but this rise was followed by a sharp fall in 2018 to around 31,700 employed. This data refers only to those captured under the ANZSIC classification of the Printing industry, and so may not include other elements of the wider Printing and Graphic Arts industry.

Printers make up the largest proportion of this workforce (18.1%) but are predicted to have a significant reduction in employment between 2018 and 2023, with employment projected to fall by 7.7%. Print Finishers and Screen Printers, Printing Assistants and Table Workers, and Graphic Pre-press Trades Workers are also predicted to fall by 13.3%, 10.4% and 10.2% respectively. The only VET-related occupation predicted to experience employment growth between 2018 and 2023 is Graphic and Web Designers, and Illustrators, with a prediction of 12.6% growth.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in Printing and Graphic Arts-related qualifications fell substantially from just over 2,730 in 2015 to roughly 1,350 in 2018. Program completions have also experienced a significant decline from approximately 1,000 in 2015 to 360 in 2018. Subject only enrolments peaked in 2018 at 130, a significant increase from 2015 and 2016 with 24 and 23 subject only enrolments respectively.

The majority of program enrolments in Printing and Graphic Arts-related qualifications in 2018 were at the certificate III level (84%). The next highest qualification level was certificate II, accounting for 12% of program enrolments.

The qualifications with the highest enrolments in 2018 were the Certificate III in Printing (34%), Certificate III in Print Communications (30%) and the Certificate III in Print Manufacturing (19%). The intended occupation for qualifications in Printing and Graphic Arts-related qualifications varied by individual qualification, with Printing Machinist being the most common intended occupation, followed by Graphic Pre-press Trades Worker.

Overall the delivery of qualifications in Printing and Graphic Arts-related qualifications was relatively evenly split between TAFE institutes (45%) and private training providers (44%) in 2018. This did vary significantly between qualifications, with TAFE institutes delivering most of the Certificate IV in Printing and Graphics (95%) and Certificate II in Printing and Graphic Arts (General) (72%), while private training providers delivered a higher proportion of Certificate III in Print Manufacturing (83%) and Certificate III in Printing (57%).

Enrolments tended to be Commonwealth and state funded (86%) across all provider types, however, private training providers accounted for the largest proportion of international fee for service (20%).

Victoria had the most students enrolled in Printing and Graphic Arts-related qualifications in 2018, with 39%. Many of the remaining students were from either New South Wales (15%), Western Australia (15%), Queensland (12%) or South Australia (11%).

More than two fifths of training was delivered in Victoria (44%), followed by Western Australia (15%), New South Wales (14%), South Australia (13%) and Queensland (12%).

Apprentice and trainee commencements fell overall between 2010 and 2017, noting a significant but brief rise in 2012 (close to 1250 commencements). In 2018 there has been a small increase from roughly 230 commencements in 2017 to just over 250. Apprentice and trainee completions peaked at just over 800 in 2015 but have declined overall between 2010 and 2018. A small increase in completions occurred between 2017 and 2018 (approximately 210 and 260 respectively). Intended occupations for apprentices and trainees in this industry tended to be Printing Machinist or Print Finishers. Victoria reported the largest proportion of Printing and Graphic Arts apprentices and trainees in 2018 (33%), followed by New South Wales (26%), Queensland (18%) and South Australia (14%).

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 Printing and Graphic Arts IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast suggests the following are priority skills for the Printing and Graphic Arts industry:

  • Managing skills
  • Work health and safety
  • Customer service
  • Teamwork
  • Communication skills
  • Critical and creative problem solving
  • Technical skills.

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers in the Printing and Graphic Arts industry were communication skills and being detail-oriented. The most advertised occupations were Sales and Marketing Manager, and Screen Printer.

The Printing and Graphic Arts IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast has identified key drivers for change within the Printing and Graphic Arts industry, an industry which is currently in a period of disruption. These drivers include changing market demand, technological change, and broader product and service offerings.

Changing market demand has caused a level of disruption within the industry, with a decline in some products such as print newspapers and magazines, and potential growth opportunities for other areas of the sector. Potential growth products include printed consumer advertising (e.g. printed catalogues and direct mail), packaging, food labelling and packaging, printing for publishing, general business products and events. These changes to the type of outputs expected from the industry may mean a change in the technical skills required of workers in order produce these products on a range of levels for diverse communication purposes.

Technological change has been highlighted in the Printing and Graphic Arts IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast as falling into four different categories. The first includes the shift from offset to digital printing technology, meaning that newer digital printing technologies such as commercial inkjet printing are resulting in rapid turnaround printing services, as well as signifying a decrease in the number of technical staff required for the printing process but also requiring workers to have precise time management and prioritisation skills. Secondly, growth in on-demand printing, largely driven by newer printing technology, enables book retailers and publishers to hold digital copies of books and only print books as orders are received presenting potential opportunities with niche or technical publishers. Thirdly, the industry is well positioned to capitalise on parts of the major growth area of 3D printing which is expected to have implications for all industries. Lastly, automation is expected to impact parts of the industry over the longer term, with print production workflow being one area of the sector with the potential for automation.

Broader product and service offerings means that industry workers will increasingly be employed by organisations with a wider product focus such as customisable products, targeted promotional material, emerging product offerings, extended services, multi-channel marketing, sustainability and augmented reality. This widening scope of potential products and services affiliated with the Printing and Graphic Arts industry means workers will be required to broaden their skills and knowledge.

In addition to the changes outlined above, the Printing and Graphic Arts IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast also describes changes to job roles, meaning workers are increasingly working within multidisciplinary communications teams as opposed to being employed by businesses that solely focus on Printing and Graphic Arts sector related activities. Workers with printing and / or graphic arts skills and qualifications are being employed by a diversity of businesses and industries, so even though it may appear like there is a disruption to sector activity, it may mean workers are being brought in-house into non-printing businesses.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal:

  • by ANZSIC 2 digit Printing (including the Reproduction of Recorded Media) Industry, employment projections to May 2023
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2023
    • Printers
    • Graphic and Web Designers, and Illustrators
    • Printing Assistants and Table Workers
    • Print Finishers and Screen Printers
    • Graphic Pre-press Trades Workers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 November 2018 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202018?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2 digit Printing (including the Reproduction of Recorded Media) Industry, 2000 to 2018, 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 Printing (including the Reproduction of Recorded Media) Industry, 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:

  • ICP Printing and Graphic Arts Training Package
  • Certificate II in Printing and Graphic Arts (General)
    • ICP20115 - Certificate II in Printing and Graphic Arts (General)
    • ICP20210 - Certificate II in Printing and Graphic Arts (Desktop Publishing)
    • ICP20410 - Certificate II in Printing and Graphic Arts (Print Production Support)
  • Certificate III in Printing
    • ICP30415 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Digital Printing)
    • ICP30510 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Printing)
    • ICP30512 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Printing)
    • ICP30515 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Printing)
    • ICP30612 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Screen Printing)
    • ICP30615 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Screen Printing)
    • ICP31215 - Certificate III in Printing
  • Certificate III in Print Communications
    • ICP30112 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Graphic Design Production)
    • ICP30115 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Graphic Design Production)
    • ICP30210 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Graphic Pre-press)
    • ICP30212 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Graphic Pre-press)
    • ICP30215 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Graphic Prepress)
    • ICP30315 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Multimedia)
    • ICP31415 - Certificate III in Print Communications
  • Certificate III in Print Manufacturing
    • ICP30710 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Print Finishing)
    • ICP30712 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Print Finishing)
    • ICP30715 - Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts (Print Finishing)
    • ICP31315 - Certificate III in Print Manufacturing
  • Certificate IV in Printing and Graphic Arts
    • ICP40110 - Certificate IV in Printing and Graphic Arts (Graphic Pre-press)
    • ICP40115 - Certificate IV in Printing and Graphic Arts
    • ICP40210 - Certificate IV in Printing and Graphic Arts (Multimedia)
  • Diploma of Printing and Graphic Arts
    • ICP50110 - Diploma of Printing and Graphic Arts (Digital Production)
    • ICP50115 - Diploma of Printing and Graphic Arts
    • ICP50210 - Diploma of Printing and Graphic Arts (Multimedia).

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 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%.

ICP Printing and Graphic Arts Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Printing and Graphic Arts IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2019, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and occupations according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills/Occupations
    • ANZSCO major groups excluding Sales Workers
    • 16 Printing (including the Reproduction of Recorded Media).
Updated: 06 Dec 2019
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