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Manufacturing and Related Services


This page provides high-level information on the Manufacturing and Related Services industry. The industry, as it is represented here, covers the following eight sectors (in alphabetical order):

The Manufacturing and Related Services industry is very diverse, covering multiple sectors. It forms a large part of the Australian economy and is one of Australia’s largest employing industries. It has, however, declined in size due to factors such as the increasing availability of manufactured products in lower cost economies.  

Nationally recognised training for Manufacturing and Related Services occupations is delivered under the following training packages:

For information on other Manufacturing related industries see the following cluster pages:

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

Industry cluster training snapshot

Overall, the number of program enrolments in Manufacturing-related qualifications declined from approximately 112,210 in 2017 to about 108,770 in 2021. Just over half (51%) of all enrolments were MEM - Metal and Engineering Training Package in 2021 and just over one-fifth (21%) were in the MSF - Furnishing Training Package.

The number of program completions decreased from approximately 35,420 in 2017 to 30,010 in 2021. More than half (52%) of all program completions were in the MEM – Metal and Engineering Training Package, 16% in the MSF – Furnishing Training Package, 13% in the MSL – Laboratory Operations Training Package.

Overall, enrolments in subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program dominate in Manufacturing and Related Services Training Packages, compared with enrolments in subjects not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program.

Between 2017 and 2021 enrolments in subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program fluctuated, from nearly 1,058,230, to 1,075,190 in 2019 before declining in 2020. In 2021 there were approximately 1,043,470 enrolments in subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program.

Over the same period, enrolments in subjects not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program increased from approximately 178,840 in 2017 to nearly 196,980 in 2021.

Industry cluster snapshot

Industry insights on skills needs

There last detailed IRC skills forecasts for the Manufacturing and Related Services industry, were published in 2018 to 2019.

The top five generic skills for the combined Manufacturing IRCs in order of priority were:

  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/Systems thinking/Solving problems skills
  • Technology use and application skills
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management skills
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence skills
  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

A common theme across the nine IRC skills forecasts was changing skill needs due to technological change, particularly regarding automation. Since the publications of the skills forecasts, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all sectors of the broader manufacturing industry.

Against a backdrop of slowing economies and disrupted supply chains in response to COVID-19 restrictions, the effects of the pandemic renewed interest in manufacturing according to the CSIRO. In its Economic Outlook – Manufacturing, it highlighted the importance of local manufacturing noting the fragile supply chains but soaring global demand. As such, it argued innovative manufacturing could generate economic growth opportunities and equip the nation to better respond to future challenges, based on four key strategies:

  • Maximise local manufacturing capabilities
  • Produce and integrate superior componentry
  • Move toward sustainable and agile manufacturing
  • Adopt value-adding downstream processing of minerals.

In response, state and territory governments in Australia released economic recovery strategies that included initiatives that focused on manufacturing sectors and/or investing in education and training that target specific workforce skills, for example, the New South Wales Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Strategy; Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan; Western Australia’s Recovery Plan Initiatives; and Tasmanian Advanced Manufacturing Plan 2024

In late 2020, the previous Australian Government released the Modern Manufacturing Strategy as part of its economic recovery response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to the Strategy, increasing changes in workforce skills requirements and ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19, the IBSA Group conducted an extensive series of research and consultation activities culminating in Scaling up: developing modern manufacturing through a skilled workforce.

This report drew together insights from industry leaders on the challenges facing the manufacturing sector and recommended skills-focused responses to support the development of a highly skilled workforce to underpin the future of manufacturing in Australia. It also considered each Manufacturing sub-sector and reported how current industry qualifications support and relate to the modern manufacturing strategy priority sectors.

Links and resources

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


IRC and skills forecasts

Aerospace IRC

Furnishing IRC

Manufacturing and Engineering IRC

Process Manufacturing, Recreational Vehicles and Laboratory IRC

Sustainability IRC

Textile, Clothing and Footwear IRC


Relevant research

COVID-19 Economic Recovery Strategy – State of New South Wales (NSW Treasury)

Economic outlook – Manufacturing - CSIRO

Make it happen: The Australian Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy – Australian Government. Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Queensland Advanced Manufacturing 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan – State of Queensland, Depart of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning

Scaling Up: Developing Modern Manufacturing through a Skilled Workforce – IBSA Group

Tasmanian Advanced Manufacturing Action Plan 2024 – Tasmania. Department of State Growth

WA Recovery Plan Initiatives – Western Australia. Department of Premier and Cabinet


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre

ANZLAA – Australian and New Zealand Laboratory Animal Association

Association for Manufacturing Excellence

Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers (ARPM)

Association for Sustainability in Business

Association of Rotational Moulders Australasia

Australasian Association for Clinical Biochemists

Australasian Bioplastics

Australasian Explosives Industry Safety Group

Australasian Furniture Association

Australasian Laboratory Managers Association

Australasian Piano Tuners and Technicians Association (APTTA)

Australasian Plastics and Rubber Institute Inc (APRI)

Australasian Timber Flooring Association

Australia New Zealand Industrial Gas Association

Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council

Australian and New Zealand Society of Blood Transfusion

Australian Cabinet and Furniture Association

Australian Cablemakers Association

Australian Fashion Council

Australian Fertiliser Services Association

Australian Glass and Window Association

Australian Helicopter Industry Association

Australian Hide, Skin and Leather Exporters Association

Australian Industry Group

Australian Institute of Medical and Clinical Scientists

Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Limited (AMTIL)

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)

Australian Resilient Flooring Association (ARFA)

Australian Steel Institute

Australian Stone Advisory Association

Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council

Australian Sustainable Business Group

Australian Woodworking Industry Suppliers Association

Aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Business Association (AMROBA)

Aviation/Aerospace Australia

Blind Manufacturers’ Association of Australia

Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia (BCSD Australia)

Caravan and Camping Industries Association of South Australia

Caravan Industry Association of Australia

Caravan Industry Association Western Australia

Caravanning Queensland

Caravan Industry Victoria

Caravan & Camping Industry Association NSW

Carpet Institute of Australia (CIA)

Cement Industry Federation

Cement, Concrete and Aggregates Australia

Chemistry Australia

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Composites Australia

Design Institute of Australia

Drycleaning Institute of Australia

Energy Efficiency Council

Engineers Australia

Facility Management Association of Australia

Floor Covering Institute of Australia

Getting to Sustainability

Jewellers Association of Australia

Kitchen and Bathroom Designers Institute

Laundry Association Australia

LEAN Enterprise Australia

Locksmiths Guild of Australia

Manufacturing Australia

Master Locksmiths Association of Australasia Limited

Millinery Association of Australia

Minerals Council of Australia

National Measurement Institute

National Precast Concrete Association Australia

National Security Screen Association

Picture Framers Guild of Australia

Plastics Industry Manufacturers of Australia

Queensland Interior Decorators Association

Regional Aviation Association of Australia

Science Industry Australia

Science Education Technicians Australia (SETA)

Specialised Textiles Association

Standards Australia

Sustainability Matters

The Fifth Estate

Vinyl Council of Australia

Watch and Clockmakers of Australia

Water Stewardship Asia Pacific

Western Australian Furniture Manufacturers Association

Window and Door Industry Council

Window Coverings Association of Australia


Employee associations

Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers’ Association

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU)

Australian Workers’ Union (AWU)

Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU)

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) - Manufacturing

United Workers Union


Data sources and notes

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training packages:

  • MEA Aeroskills
  • MEM Manufacturing and Engineering
  • MEM05 Metal and Engineering
  • MSA07 Manufacturing
  • MSF Furnishing
  • MSL Laboratory Operations
  • MSM Manufacturing
  • MSS Sustainability
  • MST Textiles, Clothing and Footwear
  • PMA Chemical, Hydrocarbons and Refining
  • PMB Plastics, Rubber and Cablemaking
  • PMC Manufactured Mineral Products.

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. 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.

Updated: 29 Nov 2022
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