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Sport, Fitness and Recreation


This page provides high-level information on the Sport, Fitness and Recreation Activities industry.

The Sport, Fitness and Recreation landscape is complex, and comprises of four main industry sectors:

  • Sport
  • Aquatic and Community Recreation
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Fitness.

The Sport, Fitness and Recreation sector is extremely popular with Australian consumers and caters to a range of demographics and tastes. Consumers want services that are targeted to their specific needs, which has led to an increased range of activities on offer in gyms and fitness facilities. This has followed a worldwide trend towards personalised fitness services.

Consumers have continued to increase their expenditure on sport-related, fitness and recreation activities. According to the Sport and Recreation 2018 IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work, the sector’s economic contribution is equivalent to 2–3% of GDP, employing more than 220,000 people and attracting 1.8 million volunteers.

In addition to education and health benefits, sport, fitness and recreation activities bring communities together by providing a positive environment for people to connect and share a common focus. Sporting and fitness activities can provide a platform for people to engage and can promote awareness of broader community issues.

For more information and data specific to Sport, Fitness, Aquatic and Community Recreation and Outdoor Recreation please visit the respective pages. 

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

IRC and Skills Forecast

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

The employment level in the Sport and Recreation Activities (excluding Horse and Dog Racing Activities) industry has increased considerably over the period between 2000 and 2017, with a further increase projected up until 2022.

There were approximately 115,000 enrolments in the Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package during 2017 (a decrease from nearly 121,000 in 2016) and there were just over 33,000 completions, also a decrease from prior years. There has been a considerable increase in subject-only enrolments, growing from approximately 22,000 in 2014 to over 116,000 in 2017.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the 2018 IRC Skills Forecast for Sports and Recreation, the top priority skills required across the Sports and Recreation industry can be broken down as follows.

Top priority industry and occupation specific skills include an awareness of:

  • Sports governance
  • Drugs in sport
  • Integrity in sport.

Other top priority skills include:

  • Mentoring skills
  • Skills in diversity and inclusion
  • Presenting skills
  • Skills in child protection
  • Skills for responding to harassment and discrimination.

The top three generic skills identified in the Skills Forecast for Sports and Recreation were:

  • Communication / Virtual collaboration / Social intelligence
  • Customer Service / Marketing
  • Managerial / Leadership.

The Environmental Scan 2015: Sport Fitness and Recreation identifies several trends that are expected to have a major impact on the skills needs for the Sport, Fitness and Recreation workforce:

  • An ageing and increasingly inactive and unhealthy population makes exercise programs more important than ever for Australians of all ages. With the right skills, the Sport, Fitness and Recreation industry can play a significant role in preventative health – for example, reducing rates of obesity.
  • Technology presents opportunities for greater interaction between sport and recreation organisations and communities. To take advantage of these opportunities, the Sport, Fitness and Recreation workforce require the skills to incorporate technology into the services they offer.
  • Greater collaboration between the sectors within Sport, Fitness and Recreation may reduce some of the transience in the workforce, for example, exploring the potential to offer career pathways between sectors.

Links and resources

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


Government departments and agencies

Active Canberra

Arts Sport and Leisure (NT)

Australian Sports Commission

Government of South Australia Office for Recreation and Sport

NSW Office of Sport

Recreation Sports and Arts (Queensland)

Sport and Recreation (Tasmania)

Sport and Recreation (Victoria)

Sport and Recreation (WA)


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Aquatic and Recreation Institute

Australian Adventure Activity Standards

Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER)

Australian Fitness Network

Australian Leisure Facilities Association

Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA)

Australian Swim Coach and Teachers Association


Clearinghouse for Sport

Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports

Community Sport Australia

Exercise and Sports Science Australia

Fitness Australia

Outdoor Education Australia

Outdoor Recreation Industry Council OF NSW

Outdoors SA

Parks and Leisure Australia

Physical Activity Australia

Queensland Fitness Sport Recreation Skills Alliance

Recreation South Australia

Royal Life Saving Society Australia

Sport New South Wales

Sport Queensland

Sport SA

Swim Australia

Swimming Australia

Western Australia Sports Federation


Employee associations

Australian Services Union

Australian Workers Union

Health Services Union


Relevant research

Environmental Scan 2015: Sport Fitness and Recreation

Data sources and notes

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection and Total VET Students and Courses by SIS Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package.

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 September 2017, <>

  • Employed total, between 2000 and 2017, May Quarter, by ANZSIC 3 digit industries:
    • 910 Sports and Recreation Activities, (not further defined)
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities.

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

  • Employment projections to May 2022, by ANZSIC 3 digit industries:
    • 910 Sports and Recreation Activities, nfd
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities.
Updated: 18 Oct 2019
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