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Overview

This page provides information and data on the Police sector, which is one component of the Corrections and Public Safety industry.

It is important to note that there are only a small number of enrolments and completions in the Police sector, as many training organisations in this sector have exemptions from reporting. The information on this page is therefore focused on general skills needs and information, as the number of students reported yearly is not representative of the training being undertaken within the sector.

Those in the Police sector are engaged in a range of activities including crime prevention, emergency and non-emergency assistance and response, regulatory and licencing enforcement. Police also often engage in community programs and engagement activities. Roles in the Police sector are diverse and varied, and require a range of skills and training.

Vocational training is available for occupations involving:

  • Community Engagement
  • Aboriginal Community Policing
  • Police Liaison
  • Protective Services
  • Police Intelligence
  • Forensic Investigation
  • Search and Rescue
  • Undercover Operations
  • Police Negotiation
  • Police Investigation
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Police Prosecution.

Nationally recognised training for Police is delivered under the POL – Police Training Package and the PUA – Public Safety Training Package.

For information on investigative services and security, see the Security and Investigation sector page, within Property Services.

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

As detailed employment data for the Police sector is unavailable, employment levels for the occupation of Police have been used as a proxy. Employment for Police has fluctuated between 2001 and 2021, with lows in 2004 and 2010 and a peak of 69,800 in 2020. Employment levels have declined slightly to 67,200 in 2021 but are projected to increase to approximately 73,800 by 2025.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Please note, most Police training is not reported due to organisational exemptions. The above is a trend of training reported by registered training organisations (typically non-government providers).

There was a steady increase in program enrolments in Police-related qualifications between 2016 and 2019, before they declined by almost half (47%) in 2020, from approximately 710 to 370 respectively. Completions have also followed this trend during the same period, increasing from around 110 completions in 2016 up to almost 530 in 2019 before declining by 68% to approximately 170 in 2020.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s Data Builder.

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, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The top priority skills for the Public Safety industry overall, as identified in the Public Safety IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast include health and safety and community engagement, while the top priority industry and occupation skills were named as search and rescue, emergency response and firefighting. In addition, the key generic skills for the Public Safety industry were listed as:

  • Managerial / Leadership
  • Communication / Virtual collaboration / Social intelligence
  • Technology
  • Design mindset / Thinking critically / System thinking / Solving problems
  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN).

In addition, job vacancy data suggests the top generic skills in demand in the Police sector are planning and communication skills, with General Clerks and Police the top occupations in demand. The top employers in this sector are the New South Wales and the Australian Governments.

According the Public Safety IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, the top three key themes impacting the Police sector relate to soft skills, technology and cyber security. The aforementioned Skills Forecast identifies the importance of a continued focus on soft skills such as social skills, relatability, communication, willingness to learn, team work, problem solving, initiative, time management, ability to transfer and adapt skills to different environments / situations; in addition there needs to be a strong emphasis on staff retention, mentoring and coaching, and passing on the skills and knowledge of more experienced employees. Rapid developments in technology bring about new and complex challenges, requiring the Police sector workforce to develop their skills alongside new technologies. Cyber security, including the ethics and legalities attributed to data and artificial intelligence collection, confidentiality and storage are an emerging challenge for the Police sector, while new capabilities and skills are also needed for social media which has become a job tool in the industry.

In addition to the insights gained from the Public Safety IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast above, the Australian Federal Police’s Corporate Plan for 2020-21 notes that the threats surrounding global trade, geopolitical tensions, wealth inequality, climate change, political instability and health (COVID-19) are continuing. These threats have the potential to impact policing via severe weather events, interruptions to essential services, quarantine, and testing and border control requirements. As such, the AFP has implemented a regional command structure to put one Assistant Commissioner in charge of all the resources in their region, allowing police to tailor disruption and response work to local needs.

The Public Safety IRC’s 2021 Industry Outlook reveals that due to the ongoing pandemic policing resources have increasingly been engaged in ensuring public health directives are adhered to, supporting the management of border checkpoints between States and Territories, quarantine requirements and other restrictions, in addition to their regular policing duties. Police training has increasingly moved online to varying degrees, prompting utilisation of IT platforms for education, training, and communication. Developments in technology will have ongoing impacts on police training, particularly in specialist areas such as remotely piloted aircraft (drones), cybercrime and investigations.

The literature review Policing Domestic Violence: A Review of the Evidence has identified four key findings which relate to workforce development and training for police involvement in domestic violence. These key findings relate to:

  • Overarching police support for domestic violence training and education, however, a preference lies with practice-orientate training focusing on response strategies as opposed to theoretical training which looks at the causes and dynamics of domestic violence.
  • Training, especially practice-orientated training, is effective in influencing police response to domestic violence, as well as growing an understanding of the importance of police intervention.
  • Formalising and enhancing on the job training in domestic violence responses provides junior officers with the opportunity to learn from and observe senior colleagues.
  • Online and computer-based training has been identified as a potential solution to overcoming some of the logistical obstacles associated with traditional training delivery methods, however, the absence of practice-based components and lack of face to face discussions in this type of training has been highlighted by police.

An Australian research article has provided new insights into how perceptions of police recruits are shaped by occupational attitudes and background characteristics when policing members of diverse communities. The research suggests that recruits are significantly influenced by superior officers, the level of pride they have in their job, and their awareness of temperament and are cognizant of rule breaking when policing diverse communities. In addition, ethnic minority self-identified recruits are much more likely to be aware of the negative influences on proper conduct (such as lack of pride in their work, negativity of senior officers towards policing diverse people, and likelihood of rule breaking) when policing members of diverse groups, in comparison to other police recruits.

A report by the Productivity Commission highlights some operational statistics of police agencies from each state and territory government. Including an increase in the number of female police staff from 32.2% in 2012-13 to 34.8 in 2019-20, and that nationally in 2019-20, 91.7% of the 78,350 police staff were operational (an increase from 90.5% in 2012-13).

Links and resources

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

IRC and skills forecasts

Public Safety Industry Reference Committee

 

Relevant research

Corporate Plan 2020-21 - Australian Federal Police (AFP)

Policing Diverse People: How Occupational Attitudes and Background Characteristics Shape Police Recruits’ Perceptions – SAGE Open, Volume 9, Issue 3, July-September 2019, pages 1-13

Policing Domestic Violence: A Review of the Evidence – Christopher Dowling, Anthony Morgan, Chloe Boyd & Isabella Voce

Report on Government Services 2021: Part C, Section 6, Police Services - Productivity Commission

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency

Australian Federal Police

New South Wales Police

Northern Territory Police

Queensland Police

South Australia Police

Tasmania Police

Western Australia Police

 

Employee associations

Police Federation of Australia

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2025
    • 4413 Police.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ08 - Employed persons by Occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, viewed 1 August 2021, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 4 digit 4413 Police, 2001 to 2021, May Quarter.

                                                                                                                                                               

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider CollectionTotal VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • Police Training Package
    • POL21115 - Certificate II in Community Engagement
    • POL30119 – Certificate III in Aboriginal Community Policing
    • POL31115 - Certificate III in Aboriginal Community Policing
    • POL31215 - Certificate III in Police Liaison
    • POL41115 - Certificate IV in Aboriginal Community Policing
    • POL41215 - Certificate IV in Protective Services
    • POL50115 - Diploma of Policing
    • POL50118 - Diploma of Policing
    • POL50120 - Diploma of Crash Investigation
    • POL50218 - Diploma of Police Bomb Technical Response
    • POL52115 - Diploma of Police Intelligence Practice
    • POL54115 - Diploma of Forensic Investigation
    • POL58115 - Diploma of Police Search and Rescue Coordination (Marine/Land)
    • POL60115 - Advanced Diploma of Police Supervision
    • POL60118 - Advanced Diploma of Police Supervision
    • POL60120 - Advanced Diploma of Crash Analysis
    • POL62115 - Advanced Diploma of Human Source Management
    • POL62215 - Advanced Diploma of Police Intelligence Operations
    • POL62315 - Advanced Diploma of Police Witness Protection
    • POL62415 - Advanced Diploma of Surveillance
    • POL62515 - Advanced Diploma of Undercover Operations (Operative/Controller)
    • POL62615 - Advanced Diploma of Police Close Personal Protection
    • POL64115 - Advanced Diploma of Forensic Investigation
    • POL65115 - Advanced Diploma of Police Investigation
    • POL66115 - Advanced Diploma of Police Negotiation
    • POL68115 - Advanced Diploma of Police Search and Rescue Management
    • POL80115 - Graduate Certificate in Police Management
    • POL84115 - Graduate Certificate in Forensic Firearm Examination
    • POL84215 - Graduate Certificate in Forensic Fingerprint Investigation
    • POL84315 - Graduate Certificate in Crime Scene Investigation
    • POL87115 - Graduate Certificate in Police Prosecution.
  • Public Safety Training Package
    • PUA10106 - Certificate I in Public Safety (Defence Force Cadets)
    • PUA20100 - Certificate II in Public Safety (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Community Policing)
    •  PUA20110 - Certificate II in Public Safety (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Community Policing)
    • PUA20112 - Certificate II in Public Safety (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Community Policing)
    • PUA20200 - Certificate II in Public Safety (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Police Liaison)
    • PUA30100 - Certificate III in Public Safety (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Community Policing)
    • PUA30110 - Certificate III in Public Safety (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Community Policing)
    • PUA30112 - Certificate III in Public Safety (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Community Policing)
    • PUA30200 - Certificate III in Public Safety (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Police Liaison)
    • PUA30300 - Certificate III in Public Safety (Police Liaison)
    • PUA30310 - Certificate III in Public Safety (Police Liaison)
    • PUA30312 - Certificate III in Public Safety (Police Liaison)
    • PUA40100 - Certificate IV in Public Safety (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Community Policing)
    • PUA40110 - Certificate IV in Public Safety (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Community Policing)
    • PUA40112 - Certificate IV in Public Safety (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Community Policing)
    • PUA50200 - Diploma of Public Safety (Policing)
    • PUA50210 - Diploma of Public Safety (Policing)
    • PUA50212 - Diploma of Public Safety (Policing)
    • PUA50300 - Diploma of Public Safety (Forensic Investigations)
    • PUA50312 - Diploma of Public Safety (Forensic Investigation)
    • PUA60210 - Advanced Diploma of Public Safety (Police Search Rescue - Management)
    • PUA60212 - Advanced Diploma of Public Safety (Police Search & Rescue - Management)
    • PUA60312 - Advanced Diploma of Public Safety (Police Investigation)
    • PUA61712 - Advanced Diploma of Public Safety (Forensic Investigation)
    • PUA80112 - Graduate Certificate in Public Safety (Forensic Firearms Examination)
    • PUA80412 - Graduate Certificate in Public Safety (Crime Scene Investigation)
    • PUA80512 - Graduate Certificate in Public Safety (Fingerprint Investigation).

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 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%.

 

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2021, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2018 and June 2021 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • 7711 Police Services, excluding Professionals, and Sales Workers.
  • Employers
    • 5311 General Clerks
    • 4413 Police
    • 5111 Contract, Program and Project Administrators
    • 4422 Security Officers and Guards
    • 1399 Other Specialist Managers
    • 7711 Police Services.
Updated: 20 Jan 2022
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