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Metal, Engineering and Boating Industries

Overview

This page provides information and data on the Metal, Engineering and Boating industries, which is a component of the broader Manufacturing industry.

Metals, Engineering and Boating is a diverse industry that includes people from the initial conceiving and designing phase of products, through to manufacture, assembly, installation, repair, packaging, and selling manufactured products. Coverage includes most of the sub-sectors or ‘classes’ within the following Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) subdivisions and groups:

  • Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing
  • Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing – Including Key and Lock Manufacturing
  • Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing
  • Repair and Maintenance – Including Watch and Clock Service and Repair, and Key Duplication
  • Other Transport Equipment Manufacturing – Including Shipbuilding and Boatbuilding
  • Other Manufacturing – Including Jewellery and Silverware Manufacturing.

People with metal and engineering skills do, however, work across other industries not captured in those listed above such as construction, mining, agriculture, health, food, and hospitality.

Nationally recognised training for the Metal, Engineering and Boating industries is delivered under the MEM – Manufacturing and Engineering Training Package and MEM05 – Metal and Engineering Training Package.

For information on other manufacturing industry sectors please visit the following cluster pages:

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

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Employment levels fluctuated between 2002 and 2022 across the different sectors of the Metal, Engineering and Boating industry. Over this 20-year trend, employment levels fell in all but Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance, which increased from 72,300 in 2002 to 91,000 in 2022. Employment levels are projected to decline between 2022 and 2025 in most sectors, except for Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing which is projected to increase by more than two-thirds (69%) to 81,800.

It is worth noting industry employment numbers do not represent all those employed in metals and engineering as they are also employed across other industry sectors.

For VET-related occupations, employment projections to 2026 for occupations in the Transport Equipment Manufacturing sector indicate levels will remain stable or increase. For Boat Builders and Shipwrights, which comprise the largest proportion of the total sector’s workforce at about 10%, the employment level is projected to remain relatively stable. Electricians, on the other hand, with just under 4% of the sector’s workforce, are projected to grow approximately 10%.

Employment projections across Machinery Equipment Repair and Maintenance-related occupations indicate levels will increase almost all occupations, with Electricians and Clothing Trades Workers to grow about 10% each to 2026. However, the employment level of Electronics Trades Workers is projected to decrease by approximately 4% by 2026. The employment level of Metal Fitters and Machinists, which comprise the largest proportion of the sector’s total workforce, is projected to rise about 2% to 2026.

In Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing-related occupations, employment projections indicate levels will increase in most occupations, with the level of Sheetmetal Trades Workers expected to rise about 20%. Increases in levels of 10% or more are projected in Production Managers (13%), and Electricians and Metal Engineering Process Workers (10% each). The employment level of Structural Steel and Welding Trades Workers, the largest proportion of the sector’s total workforce, is projected to rise about 2% to 2026.

The employment projections to 2026 across the Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing-related occupations are mixed. Employment level of Engineering Production Workers, which comprises 5% of the sector’s total workforce, is projected to decline about 14%. However, employment levels of Production Managers and Metal Engineering Process Workers are projected to increase to 2026 by 13% and 10% respectively.

Within the Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing sector, employment levels to 2026 are projected to grow across all occupations, including Production Managers and Electricians as per other sectors related to the Metal, Engineering and Boating industries. For Metal Fitters and Machinists, and Product Assemblers, which each comprise more than 5% of the total sector’s workforce, employment levels are projected to increase about 2% to 2026 or remain stable.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Overall, program enrolments in Metals, Engineering and Boating industries-related qualifications increased from approximately 52,550 in 2017 to 55,580 in 2021. After a decline in program completions from about 15,450 to 13,820 between 2017 and 2018, completions increased each year to peak at 15,590 in 2021.

Nearly half of all program enrolments were at certificate III level (49%) and more than a third were at certificate II (35%) level in 2021and were concentrated in Engineering Trades (51%) and Engineering Pathways (41%). From across the Metals, Engineering and Boating industries-related qualifications, the most common intended occupations were Metal Engineering Process Workers, followed by Sheetmetal Trades Workers and Mechanical Engineering Trades Workers.

Approximately six out of ten (59%) enrolments in qualifications related to this sector were delivered by TAFE institutes in 2021, with just under three out of ten (27%) delivered by private training providers and schools delivered one tenth (10%). However, there was considerable variation depending on the different qualification. Over three-quarters of subjects (76%) were Commonwealth and state funded and 16% were funded through domestic fee for service arrangements.

Queensland had the highest proportion of students enrolled in Metal, Engineering and Boating industry-related programs (39%) in 2021, followed by New South Wales (17%) and Western Australia (15%). Queensland also delivered the highest proportion of training (41%), followed by Western Australia (20%) and New South Wales (17%).

Overall, the number of apprenticeship and traineeship commencements remained almost the same over the decade, with approximately 9,850 in 2012 and 9,880 in 2021. However, in the intervening years, apprenticeship and traineeship commencements declined to about 6,080 in 2016. Apprenticeship and traineeship completions declined over the 10-year period, from approximately 7,130 in 2012 to 4,840 in 2021.

The most common intended occupations of apprenticeships and traineeships in the Metal, Engineering and Boating-related qualifications were Sheetmetal Trades Worker and Mechanical Engineering Trades Workers. Queensland had the highest proportion of apprentices in training (30%) in 2021, followed by New South Wales (25%) and Western Australia (21%).

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 Manufacturing and Engineering IRC’s Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2019-2023 was the last skills forecast published by the IRC. It identified the key generic skills, of which the top five were:

  • Technology and solving problems skills
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) skills, and learning agility/information literacy
  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) skills
  • Communication, and Managerial/Leadership skills
  • Data analysis skills.

Further, the 2019 Skills Forecast also identified top priority skills for the sector, including planning, scheduling, logistics and supply chain management as the top priority skills for this sector. Higher level technician skills, maintenance and diagnostics skills, mechatronics and non-destructive testing (NDT) were identified as top priority industry and occupation skills.

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers were communication skills and planning skills, with Sales Representatives and Fitter (General) the most advertised occupations. The top employers were Dell Incorporated, Komatsu Australia, Honeywell International Incorporated and Broadspectrum Pty Limited.

Workforce supply challenges were outlined in the 2019 Skills Forecast. At the time, several occupations relating to the MEM Manufacturing and Engineering qualifications were experiencing skill shortages and were on skill shortage lists. Some of these occupations continue to face shortages, based on the 2022 Skills Priority List, including Sheetmetal Trades Workers, Metal Fabricators, Metal Machinists, Fitters (General) and Fitters and Turners, Welders (First Class), and Locksmiths.

The Manufacturing and Engineering IRC identified the following trends as expected to have an impact on the future workforce supply:

  • Technology trends around automation, use of advanced materials and augmented and virtual reality, which were creating new ways of working and new business opportunities and models. It was expected these changes would transform in demand skills in the sector
  • Changing work and career values were a challenge for the industry, in terms of attracting new, highly capable people to the industry and ensuring an ongoing supply of skills in an industry with an ageing workforce. The IRC noted there was a need to change perceptions and show the industry as a modern manufacturing environment, focused on continuous improvement and innovation
  • Accelerating adoption of new technologies, which was driving a new for new cross-disciplinary combination of skills.

Further, Defence projects would also drive workforce demands in the shipbuilding and military vehicle manufacturing sectors.

Through research and consultation, the IRC identified priority areas for training package development; welding skills; technical skills; and, trainer, supervisor and coordinator skills.

As such, the Manufacturing and Engineering IRC reviewed the MEM Manufacturing and Engineering Training Package, through the Welding, Technician and Trainer/Supervisor/Coordinator Skills Project. The project is progressing via three streams: Welding; Technician (Part 1) and Technician (Part 2); and Trainer/Supervisor/Coordinator Skills.

The MEM Release 4.0 Welding project ensured that welding qualifications reflect current and emerging workplace needs, new technologies, changing roles and work practices government initiatives and the impact of parallel standards, codes, certifications and accreditation arrangements. The Case for Endorsement was submitted to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee for consideration at the October 2022 meeting.

As of November 2022, the second stream, Technician (Part 1) of the Project will be reviewed and progress through final stages. Consultation on the Technician (Part 2) of the Project has finished. The third stream, Trainer/Supervisor/Coordinator Skills, has been flagged as a priority project for new work to start in early 2023.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Industry Employment Projections viewed 1 August 2021, Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 2- and 3-digit industries, employment projections to May 2025
    • 21 Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 22 Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 23 Transport Equipment Manufacturing (less 231 Motor Vehicle and Motor Vehicle Part Manufacturing)
    • 24 Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing
    • 942 Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance.

National Skills Commission 2022, Occupation Employment Projections viewed 10 August 2022, https://www.nationalskillscommission.gov.au/topics/employment-projections

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2026
    • 3421 Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics
    • 3991 Boat Builders and Shipwrights
    • 3932 Clothing Trades Workers
    • 341 Electricians
    • 3423 Electronics Trades Workers
    • 7123 Engineering Production Workers
    • 7112 Industrial Spraypainters
    • 2335 Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers
    • 8391 Metal Engineering Process Workers
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 3233 Precision Metal Trades Workers
    • 8322 Product Assemblers
    • 1335 Production Managers
    • 3222 Sheetmetal Trades Workers
    • 3223 Structural Steel and Welding Trades Workers.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2022, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ06 - Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, viewed 1 August 2022. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2022

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2- and 3-digit industries, 2002 to 2022, May Quarter
    • 21 Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 22 Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 23 Transport Equipment Manufacturing (less 231 Motor Vehicle and Motor Vehicle Part Manufacturing)
    • 24 Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing
    • 942 Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance.

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

  • Employment level by 2- and 3-digit industries (as per above), and 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, Total VET students and courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • MEM – Manufacturing and Engineering Training Package; MEM05 – Metal and Engineering Training Package.
  • Boating Services
    • MEM10205 - Certificate I in Boating Services
    • MEM20303 - Certificate II in Boating Services
    • MEM20305 - Certificate II in Boating Services
    • MEM30905 - Certificate III in Boating Services
    • MEM30919 - Certificate III in Boating Services
    • MEM40203 - Certificate IV in Boating Services
    • MEM40205 - Certificate IV in Boating Services.
  • Engineering Pathways
    • MEM10105 - Certificate I in Engineering
    • MEM10119 - Certificate I in Engineering
    • MEM20105 - Certificate II in Engineering
    • MEM20198 - Certificate II in Engineering - Production
    • MEM20205 - Certificate II in Engineering - Production Technology
    • MEM20219 - Certificate II in Engineering - Production Technology
    • MEM20298 - Certificate II in Engineering - Production Technology
    • MEM20413 - Certificate II in Engineering Pathways.
  • Engineering Production
    • MEM30105 - Certificate III in Engineering - Production Systems
    • MEM30119 - Certificate III in Engineering - Production Systems
    • MEM30198 - Certificate III in Engineering - Production Systems.
  • Engineering Technical
    • MEM30505 - Certificate III in Engineering - Technical
    • MEM30598 - Certificate III in Engineering - Technician
    • MEM40412 - Certificate IV in Engineering Drafting
    • MEM50205 - Diploma of Engineering - Technical
    • MEM50211 - Diploma of Engineering - Technical
    • MEM50212 - Diploma of Engineering - Technical
    • MEM60105 - Advanced Diploma of Engineering
    • MEM60111 - Advanced Diploma of Engineering
    • MEM60112 - Advanced Diploma of Engineering
    • MEM80112 - Graduate Diploma of Engineering.
  • Engineering Trades
    • MEM30205 - Certificate III in Engineering - Mechanical Trade
    • MEM30219 - Certificate III in Engineering - Mechanical Trade
    • MEM30298 - Certificate III in Engineering - Mechanical Trade
    • MEM30305 - Certificate III in Engineering - Fabrication Trade
    • MEM30319 - Certificate III in Engineering - Fabrication Trade
    • MEM30398 - Certificate III in Engineering - Fabrication Trade
    • MEM30405 - Certificate III in Engineering - Electrical/Electronic Trade
    • MEM30498 - Certificate III in Engineering - Electrical/Electronic Trade
    • MEM30705 - Certificate III in Marine Craft Construction
    • MEM30719 - Certificate III in Marine Craft Construction
    • MEM30805 - Certificate III in Locksmithing
    • MEM30819 - Certificate III in Locksmithing
    • MEM31010 - Certificate III in Watch and Clock Service and Repair
    • MEM31019 - Certificate III in Watch and Clock Service and Repair
    • MEM31112 - Certificate III in Engineering - Composites Trade
    • MEM31119 - Certificate III in Engineering - Composites Trade
    • MEM31215 - Certificate III in Engineering - Industrial Electrician
    • MEM31219 - Certificate III in Engineering - Industrial Electrician
    • MEM31319 - Certificate III in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning
    • MEM31419 - Certificate III in Engineering - Fixed and Mobile Plant Mechanic
    • MEM31519 - Certificate III in Engineering - Toolmaking Trade
    • MEM40103 - Certificate IV in Engineering
    • MEM40105 - Certificate IV in Engineering
    • MEM40119 - Certificate IV in Engineering
    • MEM40198 - Certificate IV in Engineering - Higher Engineering Trade
    • MEM50105 - Diploma of Engineering - Advanced Trade
    • MEM50119 - Diploma of Engineering - Advanced Trade.
  • Jewellery Manufacture and Design
    • MEM30605 - Certificate III in Jewellery Manufacture
    • MEM30619 – Certificate III in Jewellery Manufacture
    • MEM30803 - Certificate III in Jewellery Manufacture
    • MEM40311 - Certificate IV in Advanced Jewellery Manufacture
    • MEM50311 - Diploma of Jewellery and Object Design
    • MEM60211 - Advanced Diploma of Jewellery and Object Design.

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 program completions
  • 2021 subject enrolments.

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%.

MEM Manufacturing and Engineering Training Package; and MEM05 Metal and Engineering 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 
  • apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2021 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Lightcast 2022, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Boston, viewed August 2022, https://lightcast.io/apac.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2019 and June 2022 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • 21 Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 22 Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 23 Transport Equipment Manufacturing (excluding 2313 Automotive Electrical Components Manufacturing; 2311 Motor Vehicle Manufacturing; 2312 Motor Vehicle Body and Trailer Manufacturing; 2319 Other Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing)
    • 24 Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing
    • 9421 Domestic Appliance Repair and Maintenance
    • 9422 Electronic (except Domestic Appliance) and Precision Equipment Repair and Maintenance
    • 9429 Other Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance
    • ANZSCO major groups excluding Clerical and Administrative Workers; Professionals; Managers; Community and Personal Service Workers.
  • Employers
    • 611399 Sales Representatives nec
    • 323211 Fitter (General)
    • 399999 Technicians and Trades Workers nec
    • 741111 Storeperson
    • 899999 Labourers nec
    • 21 Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 22 Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
    • 23 Transport Equipment Manufacturing (excluding 2313 Automotive Electrical Components Manufacturing; 2311 Motor Vehicle Manufacturing; 2312 Motor Vehicle Body and Trailer Manufacturing; 2319 Other Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing)
    • 24 Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing
    • 9421 Domestic Appliance Repair and Maintenance
    • 9422 Electronic (except Domestic Appliance) and Precision Equipment Repair and Maintenance
    • 9429 Other Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance.
Updated: 30 Nov 2022
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