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This page provides high level information and data on the Automotive industry.

The Automotive industry is broad and encompasses a variety of activities and businesses. These activities include repair and service of vehicles; retailing of vehicles; parts and tools; repair, maintenance, repair and service of bicycles, outdoor power equipment, marine vessels and motorcycles; and some non-car manufacturing.

Detail of the various sectors of the Automotive industry can be found on the following pages: 

Nationally recognised training for Automotive is delivered under the AUM – Automotive Manufacturing Training Package and AUR – Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package.

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

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

The census data indicates that in 2016 across all industry classes that have relevance to the Automotive industry there were just over 390,000 people employed. This figure is prior to the closure of the car manufacturing plants which will have some impact on this number.

The report, Directions in Australia’s automotive industry: an industry report 2017 forecasts some decline in numbers in the industry through to 2018–19, the end of their forecast period. They also calculated that 88% of the decline in numbers in the industry is a direct result of the closure of car manufacturing plants in Australia. However, the key findings of the updated report released in 2021 state that industry employment has remained at relatively the same level since the end of local manufacturing in October 2017.

It should be noted that some of the industry classes used to calculate the employment number from the 2016 census include activities that may lie outside of the Automotive industry, so the total employment number should be seen as indicative only. The precise industry classes used to calculate the employment number are shown in the data notes below. More information on employment is shown in the sector pages.

There were approximately 80,900 program enrolments across the two automotive related training packages in 2021, increasing from 72,060 in 2020, with the vast majority of enrolments in the Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package. There were around 24,340 program completions in 2021, increasing from 21,920 in 2020. The proportion of subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program increased from 98% in 2017 to 99% in 2021.

As with program enrolments, the vast majority of apprentice and trainee commencements and completions were in the Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package. In 2021 overall, there were about 15,020 commencements and 6,650 completions. Apprentice and trainee commencements and completions both increased between 2020 and 2021, with commencements recording their highest level since 2012.

For further breakdowns of the training data, please visit the sector pages.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

Consistent change and evolution of technology in the Automotive industry means the technical skills required to keep pace are a key focus for the sector. Industry consultation and previous research, as highlighted in the Automotive IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, identifies significant skills demand in the industry for the following:

  • Fault diagnosis skills
  • Mechanical and electrical repair skills for modern vehicle systems, including semi-automatic driving technologies like:
    • Park assist
    • Lane departure warning
    • Autonomous emergency braking.

The Automotive IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identifies three key opportunities and challenges for employers and learners in the industry, including:

  • Outdated public perceptions discourage enrolments: Industry feedback has suggested that outdated perceptions among learners and misinformed career advisors that industry job roles are highly manual, labour intensive and not requiring high order thinking is affecting the supply of quality learners. These perceptions have become increasingly untrue over the past ten years with the growing complexity of motor vehicles, components and diagnostic tools, along with tighter regulatory standards for service and repair work.
  • Employer dissatisfaction with diagnostic skills training: Presently, inconsistent diagnostic skills among graduates who have completed certificate III level qualifications are being reported by employers. This presents the opportunity for the Training Package to increase its focus on building and developing these skills in learners.
  • AUR learners benefit from high levels of full-time employment: Recent survey data suggests 83.5% of AUR Training Package graduates were in employment by May 2018 as opposed to 44.1% of all VET graduates. This strong learner and employer engagement presents opportunities for the Training Package.                      

In addition, three key drivers have been uncovered in the Automotive IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast as underpinning long-term change in Australia’s Automotive industry. These drivers for change are identified as an evolving economic environment, changing technology and shifting consumer preferences.

The evolving economic environment covers a range of factors affecting small businesses, including increased equipment costs due to ever changing technology, difficulty accessing technical repair information due to a reluctance among dealerships to share important product documentation, and prevailing skills shortages. Another economic factor is increased activity from key users of commercial vehicles, such as construction and mining, leading to forecasted strong jobs and skills demand in heavy vehicle-related sectors over the coming years.

Some of the key areas being impacted by changing technology in the industry include motor vehicles becoming increasingly complex as their share of electronic components increases, therefore leading to more sophisticated service and repair roles, while relationships with suppliers and customers are becoming more digital. Each of these factors leads to a need to ensure workers and learners are adequately skilled, re-skilled and up-skilled so they can remain up to date with the latest motor vehicle technology.

Shifting consumer preferences have led to an increased demand for larger, greener and more fuel-efficient cars, increasing use of a greater variety of transport options such as car-sharing and ridesharing services, and a decrease in vehicle servicing requirements coupled with increasing competition within the industry. Skill sets must evolve along with consumer preferences so that technicians are able to diagnose, service and repair all types of vehicles on the road, as well as increasing commercial acumen and relationship management skills in order to be successful in the increasingly competitive vehicle service and repair market.

Modelling included in the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) submission Recommended JobTrainer Fund Qualifications estimates skills shortages in 20 occupations equating to 31,012 positions within the Automotive industry. Key factors driving these shortages include contributing to the high number of skill shortages experienced within the Automotive Industry include that the number of vehicles on-road in Australia is growing while annual apprentice commencements in automotive trades have fallen over the decade (which were roughly 14,030 in 2010 and 11,560 for 2019), the transition to hybrid, electric and fuel cell/hydrogen vehicle technologies has placed new and increased skills demands on automotive businesses, and the widening of the gap between available skilled labour and the needs of the automotive industry due to the sharp, COVID driven, reduction in international skilled labour being available to employers (see more information on this in the COVID-19 impact section).

The sector pages provide more information for individual sectors.

COVID-19 impact

While the health settings in Australia are now relaxing and borders have reopened, businesses have faced a number of restrictions bringing challenges and opportunities throughout 2020 and 2021. Industry associations continue to provide updates to their members on COVID-19; for example the Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA) members have collated state and territory information on their website, and Bicycle Industries Australia (BIA) offers summaries on federal stimulus packages, individual state stimulus, shop resources and rider resources.  

The Australian automotive industry has contributed their engineering and manufacturing capacity to provide protective equipment. The RACV reported Erebus Motorsport team produced full-face masks and a protective Perspex box designed to shield healthcare workers from infected patients at its Dandenong workshop, Holden Special Vehicles’ (HSV) parent company Walkinshaw Automotive Group responded to a government request to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), specifically face visors, and Ford Australia and Toyota Australia also produced and donated face shields to Victoria’s hospitals. Several automotive components manufacturers had already pivoted to producing products for other markets, and the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association offered the services of the Auto Innovation Centre (AIC) in Mulgrave, which has previously produced prototype medical parts using 3D-printing. Bosch Australia had been working with Ellume to make at home flu testing kits and quickly adapted to manufacturing at-home COVID-19 testing kits for export to the United States.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries reports that for the full calendar year 2020 a total of 916,968 vehicles were sold, down 13.7 per cent on calendar year 2019 when 1,062,867 vehicles were sold, with the decline attributed to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Dealership Benchmarks for Cars Australia states border closures and stay-at-home orders had an immediate and drastic effect on car sales, with the average new car salesperson selling only 5 cars in April 2020, used car margins dropped by -41 % as dealers liquidated stock, and revenue for parts and service fell by around one-third from levels recorded in January to March 2020. During 2020, dealerships have also experienced shortfalls in supply due to factory shutdowns overseas, and increased demand from consumers switching from using public transport.

The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged more commuters to use bicycles, particularly in major cities. The Australian Cycling Economy 2021 Report states the overall demand for bikes has increased materially with the total number of bicycle imports increasing 46% from approximately 1.2 million to 1.7 million between the 2019 and 2021 financial years. In Sydney, it has been reported that regular cycling has more than doubled in the past two years across the inner city, and in Brisbane survey results released in August 2020 showed cycling as a transport mode is up 36% and the expected (future) use of the bicycle is up 71%. Sydney and Melbourne have been introducing pop up bike lanes, cycleways and widening footpaths to cater for demand. We Ride Australia reports traffic on Sydney’s pop-up cycleways reached 500,000 trips in the first 9 months and is expected to reach 800,000 in first year, and the Heidelberg Road pop-up lanes in Melbourne had 70,000 trips since opening (at the time of reporting in June 2021) and a 30% increase in commuting on week days.

The Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) submission Recommended JobTrainer Fund Qualifications states one of the key factors contributing to the high number of skill shortages experienced within the automotive industry is the widening of the gap between available skilled labour and the needs of the automotive industry due to the sharp, COVID driven, reduction in international skilled labour being available to employers. The JobTrainer Fund was initiated by the Australian Government as part of its Economic Response to COVID-19. Co-funded by the States and Territories, the program is providing free or low-fee training courses in areas of identified skills need. A number of Automotive-related qualifications have been included in courses that may be available under the JobTrainer program.

Links and resources

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


IRC and skills forecasts


Relevant research

2021 Dealership Benchmarks: Motor Industry Services: Cars, Australia - Deloitte

Australian Cycling Economy 2021 Report - Ernst & Young

Automotive Course Search – myskills

COVID 19 – Bicycle Industries Australia (BIA)

COVID-19 Help and Resources – Motor Trades Association of Australia

COVID-spurred Bike Boom Sees Sales Spike, But Shortages Flare for Sellers - Dominic Powell

Directions in Australia’s automotive industry: an industry report 2017 - Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA)

How the Car Industry is Helping the Fight Against COVID-19 – RACV

Recommended JobTrainer Fund Qualifications – Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC)

Regular Cycling Booms in Sydney Amid Pandemic - Tom Rabe and Nigel Gladstone

Sales: Australia’s New Vehicle Market – Federal Chamber of Automotive Industry

The COVID Dividend for Cycling in Cities – We Ride Australia


Industry associations and advisory bodies

ARAA - Auto Recyclers Association of Australia

Association of Australasian Diesel Specialists Inc (AADS)


Australian Association of Progressive Repairers

Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Australian Industry Group (AiGroup)

Australian Motor Body Repairers Association (AMBRA)

Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC)

Australian Tyre Dealers and Retreaders Association

Auto Parts Recyclers Association of Australia (APRAA)

Auto Recyclers Association of Australia

Auto Recyclers Association of Australia

Automotive Air Conditioning, Electrical and Cooling Technicians of Australasia (VASA)

Automotive Products Manufacturing and Exporters Council (APMEC)

Bicycle Industries Australia (BIA)

Boating Industry Association (BIA)

Boating Industry Association of New South Wales (For information see BIA website)

Boating Industry Association of Queensland (For information see BIA website)

Boating Industry Association of Northern Territory (For information see BIA website)

Boating Industry Association of South Australia (For information see BIA website)

Boating Industry Association of Victoria

Boating Industry Association of Western Australia

Business Council of Australia

Bus Industry Confederation (BIC)

Commercial Vehicle Industry Association Australia (CVIAA)

Construction and Mining Equipment Industry Group (CMEIG)

Farm and Industrial Machinery Dealers Association of Australia

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries

Federation of Automotive Parts Manufacturers

Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia

Institute of Accident Assessors (IAA)

Institute of Automotive Mechanical Engineers (IAME)

Marine Queensland

Motor Traders’ Association of New South Wales (MTA NSW)

Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA)

Motor Trades Association of Australian Capital Territory (MTA ACT)

Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTA Queensland)

Motor Trade Association of South Australia and Northern Territory (MTA SA/NT)

Motor Trade Association of Western Australia (MTA WA)

Outdoor Power Equipment Australia (OPEA)

Society of Automotive Engineers Australasia (SAE-A)

Tasmanian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (TACC)

Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia (TMA)

Truck Industry Council (TIC)

Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC)



Employee Associations

Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union



Australian Maritime Safety Authority

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

Data resources and notes

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

  • Employment level by 4 digit ANZSIC,
    • 2311 Motor Vehicle Manufacturing
    • 2312 Motor Vehicle Body and Trailer Manufacturing
    • 2313 Automotive Electrical Component Manufacturing
    • 2319 Other Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing
    • 2399 Other Transport Equipment Manufacturing n.e.c.
    • 2461 Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing
    • 2462 Mining and Construction Machinery Manufacturing
    • 2491 Lifting and Material Handling Equipment Manufacturing
    • 3501 Car Wholesaling
    • 3502 Commercial Vehicle Wholesaling
    • 3503 Trailer and Other Motor Vehicle Wholesaling
    • 3504 Motor Vehicle New Parts Wholesaling
    • 3505 Motor Vehicle Dismantling and Used Parts Wholesaling
    • 3911 Car Retailing
    • 3912 Motorcycle Retailing
    • 3913 Trailer and Other Motor Vehicle Retailing
    • 3921 Motor Vehicle Parts Retailing
    • 3922 Tyre Retailing
    • 4000 Fuel Retailing
    • 4231 Hardware and Building Supplies Retailing
    • 4241 Sport and Camping Equipment Retailing
    • 4245 Marine Equipment Retailing
    • 9411 Automotive Electrical Services
    • 9412 Automotive Body, Paint and Interior repair
    • 9419 Other Automotive Repair and Maintenance
    • 9429 Other Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance.


Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses by AUM Automotive Industry Manufacturing Training Package and AUR Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2017 to 2021 program enrolments
  • 2017 to 2021 subject enrolments
  • 2017 to 2021 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. 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%.

AUM Automotive Manufacturing Training Package, and AUR Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection including:

  • 2012 to 2021 commencements
  • 2012 to 2021 completions.
Updated: 29 Nov 2022
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