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Utilities

Overview

This page provides high level information and data on the Utilities industry which comprises four main industry sectors:

For more information on the ESI Generation, ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail, Water and Gas sectors, their Industry Reference Committees, Skills Forecasts and Training Packages, follow the links to their respective sector pages.

Data and information on the occupations of Electricians and Plumbers (which make up a significant proportion of the utilities workforce), are contained within the Electrotechnology and Construction industry clusters.

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

IRC and skills forecasts

ESI Generation IRC

ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail IRC

Gas IRC

Water IRC

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

The largest Utilities industry sector by employment is Electricity Transmission, Distribution and Rail (which also includes Electricity Supply, nfd). Employment in this sector has grown significantly since 2000 to 50,600 in 2018 but is expected to decrease slightly to 2023. Note, however, a new version of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification came out in 2006, which may affect the employment level time series.

Employment in the Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage sector has also grown significantly since 2000, peaking in 2012, and employment is expected to increase slightly to 2023. Employment in Electricity Generation, and Gas on the other hand, is expected to remain relatively stable to 2023.  

There were approximately 8,350 program enrolments in the four Utilities Industry Training Packages during 2018, and more than 1,730 completions. Both program enrolments and completions declined between 2015 and 2018. There has been a substantial increase in subject-only enrolments, almost doubling from approximately 93,160 in 2015 to more than 184,750 in 2018.

Industry insights on skills needs

The four skills forecasts for the Utilities industry have identified the common challenges and opportunities experienced by all subsectors as:

  • New technologies including automation, smart technologies, remote operations and data analytics will require investment in educational programs to train the future, and upskill the existing, workforce in digital literacy. The uptake of new digital technologies increases exposure to cyber security threats, making it imperative to have a tailored cyber security training program that provides the industry workforce the skills and knowledge to be able to resolve them. Soft skills and lifelong learning will be integral to having a resilient workforce ready to adapt to change.
  • Environmental factors are driving change within the subsectors. The energy sector collectively will face significant challenges and opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the levels pledged in the Paris Climate Agreement. The speed at which decarbonisation and diversification innovations are being introduced could potentially result in skills gaps, particularly if the existing workforce does not have access to funding for training.

Other issues discussed in the Skills Forecasts include an ageing workforce for the Gas and Water sectors, and challenges recruiting into roles that are perceived to be unattractive. However, the increase in the uptake of technology was noted as an opportunity for a more diverse workforce.

Links and resources

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

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australia New Zealand Industrial Gas Association

Australian Energy Council

Australian Energy Market Commission

Australian Energy Regulator

Australian Gas Association

Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association

Australian Pipelines and Gas Association

Australian Pump Industry Association

Australian Water Association

Clean Energy Council

Clean Energy Regulator

Energy Networks Australia

Energy Safe Victoria

Energy Skills Queensland

Energy Skills SA

Future Energy Skills

Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association of Australia

Gas Energy Australia

Gas Technical Regulators Committee

Industry Skills Advisory Council NT

Pump Industry Australia

Queensland Water Directorate (qldwater)

Safe Work Australia

The Australian Power Institute

Utilities and Electrotechnology Industry Training Advisory Board - NSW

Utilities, Engineering, Electrical and Automotive Training Council - WA

Victorian Registration & Qualifications Authority

VicWater

Water Directorate - NSW

Water Industry Operators Association of Australia

Water Services Association of Australia

 

Employee associations

Australian Services Union

Australian Workers Union

Electrical Trades Union

Transport Workers Union

United Services Union

 

Utilities related research organisations

Australian Institute of Energy

Energy - CSIRO

Melbourne Energy Institute

The Australian Institute

University of South Australia, Barbara Hardy Institute – Sustainable Energy

University of Queensland Centre for Coal Seam Gas

University of Queensland – Energy Initiative

University of Western Australia – Centre for Energy

 

Relevant research

A Changing Electricity Industry, a Changing Workforce: A Discussion Paper on the Future Skilling Implications of the Smart Grid – Energy Skills Queensland

A Hydrogen Roadmap for South Australia – Department of the Premier and Cabinet

Bioenergy State of the Nation Report – KPMG

Biogas Opportunities for Australia – ENEA Consulting

Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap: Final Report – Energy Network Australia; CSIRO

Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap: Future Workforce Skilling Impacts – Energy Skills Queensland

National Hydrogen Roadmap – Bruce S, Temminghoff M, Hayward J, Schmidt E, Munnings C, Palfreyman D, Hartley P.

National Hydrogen Strategy – COAG Energy Council Hydrogen Working Group

Occupational Profile of the Water Industry Workforce in NSW Local Government – NSW Water Directorate

Queensland CSG to LNG Industry Workforce Plan 2014–2034 – Energy Skills Queensland.

Queensland Hydrogen Industry Strategy 2019–2024 – Queensland. Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning

Quick clean energy jobs for Victoria – Clean Energy Council (Australia)

Renewable Energy Jobs: Future Growth in Australia – Climate Council

State of the Water Sector Report 2015 – Australian Water Association

The 2018 Queensland Urban Water Industry Workforce Composition Snapshot – Queensland Water Directorate (qldwater)

Western Australian Renewable Hydrogen Strategy – Western Australia. Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

Data sources and notes

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

  • Employment projections to May 2023, by ANZSIC 2 and 3 digit industry:
    • 260 Electricity Supply, nfd
    • 261 Electricity Generation
    • 262 Electricity Transmission
    • 263 Electricity Distribution
    • 27 Gas Supply
    • 28 Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Services.

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 and 3 digit industry, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter
    • 260 Electricity Supply, nfd
    • 261 Electricity Generation
    • 262 Electricity Transmission
    • 263 Electricity Distribution
    • 27 Gas Supply
    • 28 Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Services.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET students and courses, 2018 Program Enrolments by:

  • UEP Electricity Supply Industry – Generation Sector Training Package
  • UET ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail Training Package
  • NWP National Water Training Package
  • UEG Gas Industry Training Package.
Updated: 29 Oct 2019
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