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Textiles, Clothing and Footwear

Overview

This page provides high-level information on the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear sector.

The Textile, Clothing and Footwear sector has three main sub-sectors:

  • Production of clothing, textiles, footwear, leather goods and specialised technical textiles
  • Provision of services including dry cleaning and laundry operations, fashion and textile design, and clothing and footwear repairs
  • Processing and manufacturing of natural (wool, cotton and leather) and synthetic materials such as PVC and shade cloth.

There were approximately 14,000 businesses operating in the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear sector at the end of June 2017, employing 38,800 people in 2017-2018. More than 30% of Textile Processing and Manufacturing businesses are based in Victoria and more than one third of TCF Production businesses based in New South Wales. Victoria is the base for 43% of the Textile Processing and Manufacturing workforce and 35% of the TCF Production workforce.

Nationally recognised training for the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear sector is delivered under:

For information on other areas of manufacturing, visit the following cluster pages:

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

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Employment levels in the Textile, Leather, Clothing and Footwear Manufacturing sector have more than halved between 2001 and 2021, from 86,800 to 40,700. Sewing Machinists and Clothing Trades Workers make up the highest proportions of this sector’s workforce, at approximately 15% and 11% respectively. Between 2021 and 2025 employment levels are projected to decline slightly (about 1%) for Sewing Machinists and remain stable for Clothing Trades Workers, as well as Textile and Footwear Production Machine Operators and Canvas and Leather Goods Makers. The employment level to 2025 for Fashion, Industrial and Jewellery Designers is projected to grow approximately 3%.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in Textiles, Clothing and Footwear-related qualifications have declined between 2016 and 2020, from approximately 6,690 to 4,350. Program completions were relatively stable between 2016 and 2018, before declining by 13% and 15% in 2019 and 2020 respectively. In 2020, there were approximately 1,160 program completions in Textiles, Clothing and Footwear-related qualifications.

Enrolments in subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program have steadily declined, from approximately 62,050 in 2016 to 34,290 in 2020. Enrolments in subjects not delivered as part of a nationally recognised program were relatively stable between 2016 and 2017, before declining from approximately 1,000 in 2018 to 570 in 2020.

Approximately 45% of program enrolments in Textiles, Clothing and Footwear-related qualifications were at Certificate II level in 2020, with remaining 55% spread across Certificate III (23%), Certificate IV (8%) and Diploma or higher (24%). Most program enrolments were in Fashion Design qualifications (84%) in 2020.

The most common intended occupation from Textiles, Clothing and Footwear-related qualifications was Sewing Machinist (41%), followed by Clothing Patternmaker (19%), then Dressmaker or Tailor (16%). There were also enrolments in courses that intended to lead to many other occupations including Clothing Trades Workers and Fashion Designer.

Overall, approximately 72% of programs were delivered by TAFE institutes in 2020, followed by private training providers (18%). However, there was considerable variation depending on different qualifications, for example about 92% of Laundry and Dry Cleaning qualifications were delivered by private training providers. More than three quarters (79%) of all Textiles, Clothing and Footwear-related subjects were government funded in 2020, with the remaining 21% funded privately (through domestic and international fee for service).

Victoria had the highest proportion of students enrolled (33%) in Textiles, Clothing and Footwear qualifications, followed by New South Wales (22%) and Queensland (16%). Over a third (35%) of the training in this sector was delivered in Victoria in 2020, followed by New South Wales (22%) and Queensland (16%).

The number of apprenticeship and traineeship commencements in the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear sector peaked in 2012 at approximately 620, before declining considerably to 70 in 2018. In 2020, there were 90 apprenticeship and traineeship commencements. A similar pattern is observed with apprenticeship and traineeship completions, peaking in 2012 at about 550 and declining to a low of approximately 30 in both 2019 and 2020. The most common intended occupation was Laundry Worker (General). Western Australia had the highest proportion of apprentices and trainees in training (33%) in 2020, followed by New South Wales (30%) and Queensland (25%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry group 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 Textiles, Clothing and Footwear IRC’s Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2019-2023 identified the top five generic skills important throughout the workforce, noting demand for generic skills may vary considerably between industry sectors, regions and individual businesses:

  • Technology
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/Systems thinking/Solving problems skills
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence skills
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management skills
  • Customer service/Marketing skills.

Further, the 2019 Skills Forecast reported the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear industry was experiencing significant change in the way it did business and met customer needs. Global competition and a global marketplace provided significant opportunities and challenges for Australian businesses, and they were responding in a variety of ways.

It identified various challenges industry sectors were facing, including consolidation of business resulting in pricing pressures in the laundry and dry-cleaning services and an ageing workforce. Other challenges included the introduction of new technologies and business models, changing environmental and ethical concerns and consumer behaviour, including a resurgence of commitment to the traditional skills necessary for providing high-quality and bespoke products. However, traditional skills must be applied in contemporary workplace settings that also leverage new technologies and work practices.

As such, the Skills Forecast also argued there were opportunities for businesses that can access workers with appropriate skills and identified associated skilling priorities over 2019-2020, between 2020-2022 (over three years) and 2022-2023.

The training priorities between 2020-2022 focus on the:

  • Leather production, Footwear and Millinery project, to investigate contemporary workplace skill requirements for the specialised leather production, footwear and millinery, including the need for integrating soft (employability) and STEM skills
  • Fashions Business (Law and Compliance) skill set, to address industry requirements for skills and knowledge in legal aspect of governance, intellectual property and copyright, standards and compliance, labelling, ethical sourcing, procurement and supply chain management (including compliance with modern slavery legislation)
  • Fashion Design project, to review Applied Fashion Design and Technology/Merchandising qualifications and develop skill sets to ensure targeted qualification pathways were available and fit-for-purpose.

As of December 2021, the IRC is investigating the impact on skills of advanced materials, emerging technologies and digitised systems and work practices that are becoming more widely used in the industry, as well as the role of the circular economy. These changes are impacting qualifications, skill sets and units across the Clothing and Footwear Production and Repair, Textile Fabrication and Production, and Applied Fashion Design and Technology/Merchandising industry streams.

According to the IRC, industry has identified shortages of people with advanced clothing production skills to make patterns and samples for limited production and to undertake garment alterations as an ‘add-on’ service to their customers. To respond to these shortages, a series of skill sets will be developed in relation to clothing production, alterations, tailoring, repairs and mending. Feedback received during public consultation identified that skills within the proposed skill sets are applicable for small business particularly in regional areas.

The industry is also facing some major challenges as it emerges from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as reported in the Australian Fashion Council’s commissioned report From high fashion to high vis: The economic contribution of Australia’s fashion and textile industry. According to the report, Australia’s fashion and textile industry contributed more than $27.2 billion to the national economy and created opportunities for women, with 77% of the workforce female. Its findings mirror the 2019 Skills Forecast, with it stating the industry needs to innovate, embrace more sustainable production and manage higher penetration of online merchandising. This will place greater emphasis on:

  • Upskilling workers to secure future opportunities and adapt to new business models, with a concerted focus on women
  • Embracing new technologies and innovations to accelerate growth, maximise local content and enhance operational resilience to future market disruptions.

Separately, 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 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. In relation to the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear, the IBSA Group report outlines how current industry qualifications support and relate to the 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 digit, 13 Textiles, Leather, Clothing and Footwear Manufacturing, employment projections to May 2025.

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 digit 13 Textiles, Leather, Clothing and Footwear Manufacturing, 2001 to 2021, May Quarter.

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 digit 13 Textiles, Leather, Clothing and Footwear Manufacturing, 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:

  • MST Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Training Package and LMT07 Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Training Package.
  • Clothing Production
    • LMT20607 - Certificate II in Clothing Production (Intermediate)
    • LMT20707 - Certificate II in Clothing Production (Complex or Multiple Processes)
    • LMT30507 - Certificate III in Clothing Production
    • LMT40307 - Certificate IV in Clothing Production
    • MST30116 - Certificate III in Clothing and Textile Production
    • MST30119 - Certificate III in Clothing and Textile Production
    • MST40216 - Certificate IV in Clothing Production
    • MST40219 - Certificate IV in Clothing Production.
  • Fashion Design
    • LMT21706 - Certificate II in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT21707 - Certificate II in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT31407 - Certificate III in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT32011 - Certificate III in Digitising and Computerised Embroidery
    • LMT41006 - Certificate IV in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT41007 - Certificate IV in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT41107 - Certificate IV in Textile Design and Development
    • LMT41207 - Certificate IV in Fashion and Textiles Merchandising
    • LMT50307 - Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT50507 - Diploma of Textile Design and Development
    • LMT50607 - Diploma of Fashion and Textiles Merchandising
    • LMT60307 - Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • LMT60407 - Advanced Diploma of Textile Design and Development
    • LMT60507 - Advanced Diploma of Fashion and Textiles Merchandising
    • MST20616 - Certificate II in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • MST30816 - Certificate III in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • MST30819 - Certificate III in Applied Fashion Design and Technology
    • MST40516 - Certificate IV in Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising
    • MST40519 - Certificate IV in Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising
    • MST50116 - Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising
    • MST50119 - Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising
    • MST50216 - Diploma of Textile Design and Development
    • MST50219 - Diploma of Textile Design and Development
    • MST60116 - Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising
    • MST60119 - Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising
    • MST60216 - Advanced Diploma of Textile Design and Development
    • MST60219 - Advanced Diploma of Textile Design and Development.
  • Laundry and Dry Cleaning
    • LMT21410 - Certificate II in Laundry Operations
    • LMT21510 - Certificate II in Dry Cleaning Operations
    • LMT31107 - Certificate III in Laundry Operations
    • LMT31110 - Certificate III in Laundry Operations
    • LMT31210 - Certificate III in Dry Cleaning Operations
    • LMT40810 - Certificate IV in Laundry Operations and Supervision
    • MST20416 - Certificate II in Laundry Operations
    • MST20419 - Certificate II in Laundry Operations
    • MST30616 - Certificate III in Laundry Operations
    • MST30716 - Certificate III in Dry Cleaning Operations
    • MST30719 - Certificate III in Dry Cleaning Operations
    • MST30919 - Certificate III in Dry Cleaning Operations.
  • Other Textile
    • MST20116 - Certificate II in TCF Production Support
    • MST20216 - Certificate II in TCF Production Operations
    • MST20316 - Certificate II in Leather Production
    • MST20516 - Certificate II in TCF Services and Repair
    • MST30316 - Certificate III in Millinery
    • MST30416 - Certificate III in Footwear
    • MST30516 - Certificate III in Leather Production
    • MST30519 - Certificate III in Leather Production
    • MST40116 - Certificate IV in Textile Design, Development and Production
    • MST40119 – Certificate IV in Textile Design, Development and Production
    • MST40316 - Certificate IV in Custom-Made Footwear
    • MST40416 - Certificate IV in Millinery.
  • Other Textile, Clothing and Footwear
    • LMT11107 - Certificate I in Textiles Clothing and Footwear
    • LMT20107 - Certificate II in Textile Production (Intermediate)
    • LMT20507 - Certificate II in Textile Fabrication
    • LMT20807 - Certificate II in Millinery
    • LMT21207 - Certificate II in Leather Production
    • LMT30107 - Certificate III in Textile Production
    • LMT30307 - Certificate III in Cotton Ginning
    • LMT30407 - Certificate III in Textile Fabrication
    • LMT30607 - Certificate III in Millinery
    • LMT30707 - Certificate III in Footwear Production
    • LMT30807 - Certificate III in Footwear Repair
    • LMT30907 - Certificate III in Leather Production
    • LMT31909 - Certificate III in Engineering - TCF Mechanic
    • LMT40107 - Certificate IV in Textile Technology and Production
    • LMT40407 - Certificate IV in Custom-made Footwear
    • LMT40707 - Certificate IV in Millinery
    • MST30216 - Certificate III in Manufactured Textile Products
    • MST30220 - Certificate III in Manufactured Textile Products.

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%.

MST and LMT07 Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2011 to 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.
Updated: 21 Jan 2022
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