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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. 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 2018 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 2017, and this trend is predicted to continue to 2022. 2017 did see a slight increase in employment as compared to the preceding five years, but this rise is not expected to continue. 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 and are also predicted to have the largest reduction in employment between 2017 and 2022, with employment projected to fall by more than 16%. On the other hand, the next largest occupational group, Graphic and Web Designers, and Illustrators, is expected to undergo employment growth of more than 16% between 2017 and 2022.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in the Printing and Graphic Arts Training Package fell substantially from just over 3,500 in 2014 to just over 1,800 in 2017. Program completions in this training package experienced a rise in 2015 as compared to the previous year but have been falling since 2015. Subject-only enrolments in this training package are low, with only 111 subject-only enrolments in 2017.

The majority of program enrolments in the Printing and Graphic Arts Training Package in 2017 were at the certificate III level. There were over 1,300 enrolments at this level, as compared with nearly 400 enrolments in the next highest qualification level, certificate II.

The individual qualification with the highest enrolments in 2017 was the Certificate III in Printing, with 661 enrolments, followed by the Certificate III in Print Communications. There were very few enrolments in the Diploma of Printing and Graphic Arts in 2017. The intended occupation for qualifications in the Printing and Graphic Arts training package varied by individual qualifications, with Printing Machinist being the most common intended occupation, followed by Graphic Pre-press Trades Worker.

Qualifications in the Printing and Graphic Arts Training Package were most often delivered by private training providers in 2017 (47%), though the provider type varied by qualification. TAFE institutes delivered the majority of qualifications for the Certificate IV in Printing and Graphic Arts (71%). The Certificate III in Printing and the Certificate III in Print Manufacturing were mostly delivered by private training providers (61%). The Diploma of Printing and Graphic Arts was only delivered by private training providers.

Enrolments tended to be Commonwealth and state funded across all provider types, particularly TAFE institutes and enterprise providers, the latter of which saw 100% of subject enrolments funded in this way in 2017.

Victoria had the most students who were enrolled in the Printing and Graphic Arts Training Package in 2017, with 42%. Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland recorded the next highest enrolments, with students split relatively equally across these three states.

Apprentice and trainee commencements and completions fell between 2010 and 2017, with a brief rise in completions between 2013 and 2015. There were 227 commencements in 2017. Intended occupations for apprentices and trainees in this industry tend to be Printing Machinist or Print Finishers. Victoria reported the largest proportion of Printing and Graphic Arts apprentices and trainees in 2017 (36%), followed by New South Wales (26%).

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 Printing and Graphic Arts IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast suggests the following are priority skills for the Printing and Graphic Arts industry:

  • industry knowledge
  • career development and planning
  • creative, commercial and critical thinking
  • collaboration and relationship building
  • agility and flexibility.

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 Screen Printer followed by Sales and Marketing Manager.

The above Skills Forecast identified a number of key issues for the Printing and Graphic Arts industry. Employers need support to invest in staff training and development. Many employers in the industry have struggled to realise profit growth over the past decade, largely due to the transition from traditional media to digital media. This has inhibited employer ability to invest in the training of staff. Employers and other stakeholders emphasised the importance of staff development to give workers the right mix of new and traditional skills and to provide adequate training in basic leadership and related skills.

Printing is an evolving industry. Despite a declining demand for traditional print media, there are several potential growth areas within printing. This includes 3D printing and customisable goods. VET can play an important role in facilitating training as technology changes, ensuring employers have workers able to bring both technical and soft skills to a changing industry.

As the kind of printing and graphic arts products and services demanded changes and redistributes, workers will need agility to move between different kinds of printing or technology and different organisations. For example, employees will need to be multi-skilled across a range of equipment and emerging technologies in addition to having knowledge of both traditional print and digital print as it becomes more likely that they will need to work across a range of these areas within the business.

There is a strong need to diversify the current workforce and attract younger people into training and employment. The older workforce, along with the prevalence of small businesses, however, makes it difficult for workers to progress upwards or across organisations and does not create space for new workers to enter. This is creating skills gaps in the overall workforce such as:

  • lack of adaptability or openness to new ideas as process is influenced by tradition
  • less up to date knowledge as formal training was conducted quite some time ago
  • lack of a cohort of emerging leaders to provide mentorship, which is of particular concern, as when the older cohort all approaches retirement together, there will be no one to guide replacement staff.

The Workforce landscape series 2017: Printing and Graphic Arts report, released by the FutureNow Creative and Leisure Industries Training Council, echoes many of the key points identified in the above Skills Forecast. This report also highlights the critical importance of promotion and positive visibility of the industry to grow an understanding that print will remain an important communication vehicle in a digital economy, particularly for advertising, education and entertainment, to attract new people to the industry. Effort is needed to change the negative public perception of the Printing and Graphic Arts industry to attract talent. Changing community perception, actively lobbying to schools and career advisors, and clearly defining job opportunities and pathways is crucial to make the industry attractive to students.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2017, 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 2022
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2022
    • 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 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 by ANZSIC 2 digit Printing (including the Reproduction of Recorded Media) Industry, 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 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:

  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 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 2017 commencements
  • 2010 to 2017 completions
  • 2017 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2017 collection, by qualification and state and territory.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Printing and Graphic Arts IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018, <https://www.burning-glass.com>.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and occupations according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 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: 02 Nov 2018
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