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Aquatic and Community Recreation

Overview

This page provides information and data on the Aquatic and Community Recreation sector, which is one component of the Sport, Fitness and Recreation industry.

Community Recreation refers to recreation at the local level like community recreation facilities and community activity programs, and includes activities like sport, aquatics, personal development programs, rehabilitation programs and government initiatives.

The delivery of aquatic and community recreation activities are primarily facilitated by state and local governments and commercial leisure centres, other businesses involved in the delivery of these activities include community-focused organisations (e.g. Police Citizens Youth Club and Young Men’s Christian Association) and voluntary organisations (e.g. religious groups).

There are over 1,300 public swimming pools across Australia and approximately the same number of swimming and water safety schools. These facilities play a vital role in aquatic skill development, recreation, sport and healthy active lifestyles in the community. In addition, they provide Australians with a safe place in which they can familiarise themselves with water activities, supported by lifeguards, good visibility and marked depths which enable visitors to develop their aquatic survival skills in a low-risk environment.

Aquatic facilities provide employment opportunities for local people and are essential to the social fabric of the community, particularly in rural and remote communities.

Examples of job roles within this sector that require vocational education and training include:

  • Sports and Recreation Centre Managers
  • Pool Lifeguards
  • Aquatic Exercise Instructor
  • Swimming and Water Safety Teacher
  • Recreation leader.

Nationally recognised training for Aquatic and Community Recreation occupations is delivered under the SIS – Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package. 

For more information on Fitness, Outdoor Recreation and Sport sectors, please visit the respective pages.

Information sourced from the most recently skills forecast, the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and skills forecast

The Sport and Recreation 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.

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 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities industry has risen substantially over the period between 2000 and 2019 (from around 54,700 to 117,800), however levels have dropped by almost half in 2020, to 61,200, while projections indicate a rise to 133,900 by 2024. The Amusement and Other Recreation Activities industry has also seen a gradual rise in employment levels over the same period, followed by significant decline in 2020 and increases predicted by 2024.

Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials, and Fitness Instructors make up over 25% of the Sport and Recreation Activities industry workforce (excluding Horse and Dog Racing Activities). Employment levels in these occupations are projected to further increase between 2019 and 2024, by just over 16% each.

Amusement, Fitness and Sports Centre Managers currently make up close to 8%, while Sportspersons account for around 7% of the industry workforce, and employment levels for both these occupations are projected to grow between 2019 and 2024 (by 10% and 13% respectively).

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in Aquatic and Community Recreation-related qualifications have increased almost sixfold since 2018, rising from roughly 1,650 in 2018 to 9,780 in 2019. Program completions have also increased at a similar rate, from 100 in 2018 to almost 610 in 2019. A large portion of these increases in 2019 are concentrated in Queensland.

All training was at the certificate III level (100%) in Aquatics qualifications with the main intended occupation of Community Worker. The bulk of this training was provided by private training providers (93%) and almost all (96%) training was funded through domestic fee for service.

The majority (81%) of students resided in Queensland, with New South Wales (7%) and Tasmania (5%) making up much of the remaining portion. Similarly, the majority (87%) of training was delivered in Queensland, with much smaller proportions delivered in Tasmania (5%) and New South Wales (3%).

Apprentice and trainee commencements peaked at approximately 1,430 in 2014 before declining significantly to around 50 in 2019. Completions peaked in 2015 at 840 but also declined in the following years, with a particularly notable decrease between 2016 and 2017 (from 540 to close to 80). A gradual decrease has followed on from 2017, with approximately 40 completions in 2019. The only intended occupation in 2019 was Community Worker, and most apprenticeships and traineeships were reported in Victoria (82%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, please visit NCVER’s VET students by industry. If you are prompted to log in, please 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, please sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, the following form the top priority skills required across the industry:

  • Teamwork and communication
  • Problem solving
  • Self management
  • Technical/Job specific skills.

Other skills and knowledge gaps identified included:

  • Online and social media
  • Marketing
  • Initiative and enterprise (i.e. small business management)
  • Sports Administration.

The following generic skills were also identified as highest priority for the Sport and Recreation industry:

  • Customer Service/Marketing
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Managerial/Leadership.

The importance of communication is supported by findings from the job vacancy data, in which communication skills was identified as the most in demand advertised generic skill in the Sports and Recreation Activities industry (excluding Horse and Dog Racing Activities), followed by organisational skills, energetic, planning and time management.

According to job vacancy data the most advertised occupations were for Fitness Instructor, followed by Other Sports Coach or Instructor and Information Officer, with the top two employers identified as YMCA and Anytime Fitness.

The Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast highlights that workforce shortages currently exist for swimming teachers and aquatic centre managers, with the high demand for people to fill these roles expected into the future.

Another challenge facing the sector is access to these facilities in remote areas. As sporting and aquatic facilities are often provided by local councils, access can be limited due to restricted operating budgets. Solutions are required to overcome these challenges as the benefits of accessing these facilities are widely acknowledged and include improved health outcomes, providing culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities the opportunity to participate in the community, and offering an avenue for young people to pursue sporting interests.

In addition, current data suggests children are leaving swimming programs prior to reaching the national benchmarks for swimming and water safety. Socio-economic factors appear to further impact the incidence of attending swimming lessons, with attendance from a younger age more likely amongst those from higher socio-economic areas as opposed to children from low socio-economic areas. The call to strengthen school, vacation and water safety programs in the community will further increase the need for quality swimming and water safety teachers.

According to the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, increasingly sedentary lifestyles have contributed to Australia’s rising obesity rates. As people are living longer there are many who are living with chronic conditions and this contributes to the need to think differently about the role of sport, fitness and recreation in promoting physical health. More than one in two adults are living sedentary or low activity lifestyles and four in five Australian children are not meeting the recommended activity guidelines.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

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

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industries, employment projections to May 2024
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities.
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2024
    • 4523 Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials
    • 4521 Fitness Instructors
    • 4524 Sportspersons
    • 1491 Amusement, Fitness and Sports Centre Managers
    • 3623 Greenkeepers
    • 5421 Receptionists
    • 6211 Sales Assistants (General)
    • 4522 Outdoor Adventure Guides.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Employed persons by Occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1 August 2020 https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202020?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit industries, 2000 to 2020, May Quarter
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities.

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

  • Employment level by:
    • 910 Sports and Recreation Activities, nfd
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities
    • 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 and Total VET students and courses from the following training packages or qualifications:

  • SIS Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package
    • SIS20110 - Certificate II in Community Activities
    • SIS20113 - Certificate II in Community Activities
    • SIS30110 - Certificate III in Aquatics
    • SIS30113 - Certificate III in Aquatics
    • SIS30210 - Certificate III in Community Activity Programs
    • SIS30213 - Certificate III in Community Activity Programs
    • SIS31015 - Certificate III in Aquatics and Community Recreation
    • SIS40110 - Certificate IV in Community Recreation
    • SIS40113 - Certificate IV in Community Recreation
    • SIS50110 - Diploma of Facility Management.
  • SRC Community Recreation Industry Training Package (Superseded by SIS)
    • SRC10206 - Certificate I in Community Recreation
    • SRC20201 - Certificate II in Community Recreation
    • SRC20204 - Certificate II in Community Recreation
    • SRC20206 - Certificate II in Community Recreation
    • SRC30206 - Certificate III in Community Recreation
    • SRC40206 - Certificate IV in Community Recreation
    • SRC30201 - Certificate III in Community Recreation
    • SRC30204 - Certificate III in Community Recreation
    • SRC30301 - Certificate III in Community Recreation (Instruct)
    • SRC40201 - Certificate IV in Community Recreation
    • SRC40204 - Certificate IV in Community Recreation.

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:

  • 2015 to 2019 program 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. 

SIS Sport, Fitness and Recreation 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.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2020, Labour Insight Real-time Labour 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
    • Community and Personal Service Workers
    • Managers
    • Clerical and Administrative Workers
    • 9111 Health and Fitness Centres and Gymnasia Operation 
    • 9112 Sport and Physical Recreation Clubs and Sports Professionals 
    • 9113 Sports and Physical Recreation Venues, Grounds and Facilities Operation 
    • 9114 Sport and Physical Recreation Administrative Service 
    • 9131 Amusement Parks and Centres Operation 
    • 9139 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities n.e.c.
  • Employers
    • 452111 Fitness Instructors 
    • 452317 Other Sports Coach or Instructor
    • 452315 Swimming Coach or Instructor 
    • 541211 Information Officers 
    • 131112 Sales and Marketing Manager
    • 9111 Health and Fitness Centres and Gymnasia Operation 
    • 9112 Sport and Physical Recreation Clubs and Sports Professionals 
    • 9113 Sports and Physical Recreation Venues, Grounds and Facilities Operation 
    • 9114 Sport and Physical Recreation Administrative Service 
    • 9131 Amusement Parks and Centres Operation
    • 9139 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities n.e.c.
Updated: 21 Nov 2020
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