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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 employed 192,000 people in the machinery and equipment and 135,000 in the metal products sectors at August 2018. It 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 have fluctuated between 2001 and 2021 across the different sectors of the Metal, Engineering and Boating industry. Over this 20-year trend, overall employment levels fell in many of the sectors, particularly in Transport Equipment Manufacturing, and less so in Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing, Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing and Machinery and Equipment Repair and Maintenance. Employment levels grew overall in Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing, however projections to 2025 indicate they will decline. Employment levels between 2021 and 2025 are projected to grow in Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing.

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.

Looking specifically at VET-related occupations, employment projections for most occupations in the Transport Equipment Manufacturing sector indicate levels will grow between 2021 and 2025, except in the Boat Builders and Shipwrights occupation group, which is projected to remain relatively stable.

Employment levels in a couple of Machinery Equipment Repair and Maintenance-related occupations are predicted to increase between 2021 and 2025, with the largest increase (approximately 7%) projected for Electricians, followed by Metal Fitters and Machinists (approximately 5%) and Structural Steel and Welding Trades Workers (approximately 2%). In other sector-related occupations, employment levels are projected to remain relatively stable or decrease slightly.

Similarly, employment levels of Electricians, Metal Fitters and Machinists and Structural Steel and Welding Trades Workers are projected to grow between 2021 and 2025 in the Primary Metal and Metal Product Manufacturing sector. It is projected employment levels will remain relatively stable to 2025 in Metal Engineering Process Workers and no change in the level of Sheetmetal Trades Workers. A small decline of 2% is projected in the employment levels of Engineering Production Workers, which make up the highest proportion of this sector’s total workforce.

In the Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing sector, employment levels between 2021 and 2025 are projected to grown in Metal Fitters and Machinists (approximately 5%) and Structural Steel and Welding Trades Workers (about 2%). Projections indicate employment levels will remain relatively stable for Metal Engineering Process Workers, Industrial Spraypainters, Production Managers and Product Assemblers. A small decline (2%) is projected in the level of Engineering Production Workers.

Within the Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing sector and as in other sectors, employment levels to 2025 are projected to grow for Electricians (approximately 7%), Metal Fitters and Machinists (about 5%) and Structural Steel and Welding Trades Workers (approximately 2%). Employment levels in other occupations in this sector are projected to remain relatively stable.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Between 2016 and 2020, the number of program enrolments have fluctuated, decreasing to approximately 47,690 in 2018 before increasing to 54,610 in 2019. In 2020, the number declined to 53,220. Overall, the number of program completions have declined between 2016 and 2020, from approximately 16,210 to 13,750 in 2020.

More than 80% of program enrolments were at Certificate III (46%) and Certificate II (35%) levels in 2020 were concentrated in Engineering Trades (49%) and Engineering Pathways (43%). From across the Metals, Engineering and Boating industries-related qualifications, the most common intended occupations were Metal Engineering Process Workers, followed by Mechanical Engineering Trades Workers and Sheetmetal Trades Worker.

Approximately six out of ten (59%) enrolments in qualifications related to this sector were delivered by TAFE institutes in 2020, a quarter (25%) were 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 government funded and 15% were funded through domestic fee for service arrangements.

Queensland had the highest proportion of students enrolled in Metal, Engineering and Boating industry-related programs (38%) in 2020, followed by New South Wales (17%) and Western Australia (14%). Queensland also delivered the highest proportion of training (40%), followed by Western Australia (19%) and New South Wales (17%).

Overall, the number of apprenticeship and traineeship commencements have declined from 10,200 in 2011 to approximately 6,080 in 2016 before increasing each year to approximately 8,130 in 2020. The number of completions decreased between 2011 and 2020, reaching their lowest total 4,050 in 2020. 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 2020, 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 identified the key generic skills, of which the top five were:

  • Technology and solving problem 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, with Sales Representatives and Fitter (General) the most advertised occupations. The top employers were Cummins Incorporated, Dell Incorporated, Broadspectrum Pty Limited, Hitachi Group and Liebherr-Australia Pty Ltd.

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 Skills Priority List, including Sheetmetal Trades Workers, Metal Fabricator Welders (First Class) and Locksmiths.

The Manufacturing and Engineering IRC identified trends that were expected to have an impact on the future workforce supply. These included:

  • 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; these were: higher level technician skills; planning, scheduling, logistics and supply chain management, maintenance and diagnostic skill; mechatronics; and, non-destructive testing.

As at December 2021, the IRC is undertaking the Welding, Technician and Trainer/Supervisor/Coordinator Skills Project to review these three areas of the Manufacturing and Engineering Training Package.

In late 2020, the Australian Government released its Modern Manufacturing Strategy as part of its economic recovery response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Strategy aims to help manufacturers to scale-up, become more competitive and build more resilient supply chains. Investment is targeted to drive productivity and create jobs through six national manufacturing priority sectors, which reflect Australia’s competitive advantage.

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 draws together insights (based around six main themes) from industry leaders on the challenges facing the manufacturing sector and proposes skills-focused responses to support the development of a highly skilled workforce to underpin the future of manufacturing in Australia. Further, it identifies the Manufacturing and Engineering supply chain industry skill areas and their relation to the six Modern Manufacturing Strategy priority sectors.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the 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.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ06 - Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 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 2- and 3-digit industries, 2001 to 2021, 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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:

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

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:

  • 2020 commencements
  • 2011 to 2020 completions 
  • apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2020 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

 

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
    • 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
    • 6113 Sales Representatives
    • 3212 Motor Mechanics
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 3129 Other Building and Engineering Technicians
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 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.
    • Maintenance.
Updated: 21 Jan 2022
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