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This page provides information and data on the Racing industry. The Racing industry can be described as having two sectors:

  • Equine
  • Canine.

The Racing industry in Australia incorporates a diverse range of businesses including horse breeding/farming, horse racing (thoroughbred and harness), greyhound racing, and management of the facilities used specifically for those activities.

In 2017–18, horse and greyhound racing contributed approximately $1.4 billion to the Australian Gross Domestic Product. Further value-added income for the economy is generated by breeding, horse sales, prize money and wagering.

Figures from Racing Australia suggest there are approximately 159,000 individuals involved in thoroughbred racing nationally, including over 82,600 racehorse owners, as well as various other participants, volunteers and employees.

Greyhound racing includes around 30,000 ‘registered participants’ with figures from Greyhound Racing Australasia indicating that 7,000 people are directly employed in this industry, while tens of thousands are indirectly employed as a result of industry operations.

Almost all occupations in racing require relevant industry licences, which are coordinated through the industry’s peak bodies. Occupations which have licensing requirements include:

  • Trainers
  • Jockeys
  • Stablehands & Kennelhands
  • Float drivers
  • Farriers
  • Syndicate promoters
  • Rider agents.

Nationally recognised training for the Racing industry is delivered under the RGR – Racing and Breeding Training Package.

Visit the following pages for information on other Agriculture and Sport, Fitness and Recreation sectors. 

Information sourced from the Racing and Breeding IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast and the Racing and Breeding IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast.

IRC and skills forecasts

IRCs now submit comprehensive Skills Forecasts to the AISC every 3 years, with abridged annual updates submitted in the intervening 2 years.

Employment trends

Please note: any employment projections outlined below were calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics prior to COVID-19.

Employment snapshot

The employment level for the Horse and Dog Racing Activities industry fluctuated between 2000 and 2020, peaking in 2009 and 2017 (around 13,900 and 14,200 respectively). In 2020 the employment level was around 9,800, increasing from an employment level of 6,000 in 2019 which was one of the lowest levels recorded since 2000. Levels are, however, predicted to decrease to around 7,300 over the next four years to 2024.

Looking at the top occupations in the Horse and Dog Racing Activities industry, close to 24% of the workforce is employed as Livestock Farm Workers, with an increase of about 3% predicted to 2024 for this occupation. A further 19% of the workforce is employed as Animal Attendants and Trainers, and employment in this occupation is projected to grow by almost 13% over the next four years to 2024.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were approximately 1,200 program enrolments in Racing-related qualifications during 2019, and just over 350 completions. Program enrolments have declined overall, from roughly 2,150 in 2015. Program completions have recorded slight increases followed by slight decreases each year from 2015, with a small increase occurring between 2017 and 2018 (approximately 370 and 400 respectively). The proportion of subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program  has increased overall since 2016, to 89% in 2019.

During 2019, more than half of enrolments (60%) were in certificate III level qualifications, with a further 29% in certificate IV level qualifications. The most common areas of training were Stablehand (56%), followed by Racehorse Training (17%), Jockey and Harness Race Driver (12%) and Trackrider (10%). The most common intended occupations for qualifications in this sector were Horse Trainer, followed by Stablehand and Jockey.

For enrolments during 2019, more training in the Racing sector was delivered by private training providers (78%) than TAFE institutes (17%). Approximately 90% of subjects for Racing-related qualifications were Commonwealth and state funded in 2019. Students who enrolled in 2019 were mainly from Victoria (64%) and New South Wales (14%).

The majority of training was delivered in Victoria (66%), followed by New South Wales (14%).

Apprentice and trainee commencements and completions in this sector fell overall between 2010 and 2019. Commencements fell between 2018 and 2019 (approximately 215 down to just over 170) however completions increased from about 125 to 135 in the same period. Apprentices or trainees in this sector have an intended occupation of Horse Trainer (47%), Jockey (33%) or Stablehand (20%). New South Wales and Victoria reported 30% of apprenticeship training respectively, followed by 18% in both Queensland and South Australia.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET students by industry. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

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 five generic skills ranked as important in the Racing and Breeding IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast were as follows:

  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) skills
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management skills
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence skills
  • Financial skills
  • Customer service/Marketing skills.

In addition, the Racing IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identified animal welfare and integrity and ethical conduct as being the top priority industry and occupation skills.

The Racing and Breeding IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast identifies 3 issues which provide challenges and opportunities for the Racing industry and have implications for the industry’s workforce. These are:

  • Shortage of suitably trained stable staff and trackwork riders – the industry relies on workers from overseas, and the Racing and Breeding IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast expressed the concerns of the industry in respect to national and state migration reforms. Government policy changes have permitted workers to be sourced internationally, but conditional on they undertake training. As many visa holders already hold the relevant skills and do not need to undertake a full apprenticeship or traineeship, non-accredited training and selective upskilling is being explored. To further address the shortage, and issues identified in an industry survey, the Racing and Breeding IRC are exploring changes to existing skill sets for trackwork riders to assist people who may not want to be jockeys pursue a career as a trackwork rider.
  • A change required to a core unit of the Certificate II in Racing Industry – one of the core units for this training package is unsuitable for students wanting to pursue a career in greyhound racing. Changing the unit to an elective rather than a core unit is the most expedient course of action, which will be investigated over the course of the year.
  • Animal welfare (overbreeding and wastage) – the industry takes animal welfare seriously, and public opinion holds them accountable for animals retired from a racing career. The training package now covers animal welfare issues, including skills for re-training and re-homing horses and greyhounds, but it may take years before RTOs are able to deliver the training and the students move into the industry. The most immediate changes are being driven by the industry and governments including:
    • the establishment of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group and the release of an issues paper
    • the Equine Welfare Framework by Thoroughbred Racing SA
    • a $25 million welfare plan for thoroughbreds, by Racing Victoria with an immediate focus on their post-racing wellbeing
    • the Queensland Government endorsed the recommendations from its horse racing inquiry report, committing almost $6 million to increasing resources for animal welfare practices
    • the Western Australian Government announced planned changes to the state's regulation of the racehorse industry, particularly its welfare standards
    • Racing and Wagering WA released its Racehorse Welfare Plan and has purchased property for rehoming of thoroughbred and standardbred racing horses
    • every jurisdiction has adopted a version of the “off the track” programming for rehoming greyhounds, and the commitment of approximately 1% of stake money to these programs.

The Racing and Breeding IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, which is the current skills forecast for 2019 – 2022, also identified several factors which provide challenges for the Racing industry, and have implications for the industry’s workforce including:

  • Worker attraction and retention – attracting, training and retaining workers in key occupations is an ongoing challenge for the Racing industry, which has identified the need to address an ageing workforce, negative public perception of careers in racing and a shortage of people in the occupations of apprentice jockey, harness racing driver, stable hand and track rider.
  • Event attendance – there has been a decline in ticket sales and revenue from regular horse and greyhound racing events in recent years, largely attributed to the rise in sports betting through online and mobile betting platforms.

An aging workforce is also an issue for other Racing and Breeding Industry sectors. The key findings of a report commissioned by AgriFutures Australia on the economic impact of the Australian thoroughbred industry found that the industry generates more than $934 million in expenditure, adds more than $1.16 billion to the national economy, and sustains nearly 8,000 FTE jobs with nearly 18,000 individuals who participate in the breeding industry as a participant, employee or volunteer, particularly in regional, rural or remote areas, the activities of the breeding industry directly sustain a further 3,289 FTE jobs, and more than 78% of the people involved in breeding are over the age of 50.

COVID-19 impact

The Racing and Breeding IRC's 2020 Skills Forecast were researched and written during 2019 and early 2020 and do not include detailed responses to the COVID-19 situation. However, the trackworker issues discussed in the update may be assumed to be exacerbated by the current Australian travel restrictions that only permit travel to Australia if you are an Australian citizen, a permanent resident, an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident or are a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia with a very narrow range of permissible exemptions.

Acknowledged as one of the most impacted industries in the Business SA Virtual Summit Report (COVID-19) held in April 2020, racing has been able to continue in all jurisdictions except Tasmania, due to strong advocacy and ability of industry bodies to rapidly and comprehensively demonstrate previous experience with biosecurity risks, albeit without spectators and with strict protocols in place (Greyhound Racing Victoria; Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission; Racing Australia).

With all other sport cancelled or postponed, an article in the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the outbreak may have even helped introduce and gain the interest of new audiences. However, the Business SA report highlights there has been a significant downturn in revenue, which was identified as an issue in the Racing and Breeding IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast before the outbreak, that could risk the ability of trainers to continue in the industry and viability of regional clubs. Some training providers have been able to transition to alternate delivery methods for example the Racing NSW managed Team Thoroughbred NSW Training Academy has been able to offer their courses online, and Melbourne Polytechnic is offering mixed delivery with activity or training which cannot be delivered entirely remotely delivered on campus, with strict health and safety measures in place.

Links and resources

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


Relevant Research

An Open Letter to Participants in the Australian Thoroughbred Racing Industry, 31 March 2020 –Greg Nichols (Racing Australia)

Business SA Virtual Summit Report (COVID-19) – Business SA

Code of Practice for the Keeping of Racing Greyhounds – Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA)

Code of Practice for the Keeping of Racing Greyhounds – Agriculture Victoria

Equine Welfare Strategic Plan – Racing Victoria

How the Sport of Kings (and the Queen) Defied the COVID Lockdown – Rob Harris (Sydney Morning Herald)

Inquiry into Animal Cruelty in the Management of Retired Thoroughbred and Standardbred Horses in Queensland – Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Government

Measurement of Economic Impact of the Australian Thoroughbred Breeding Industry – Glen Hardy and Paul Limoli

NSW Greyhound Welfare Code of Practice – Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission

The South Australian Greyhound Industry Animal Welfare Policy – Greyhound Racing SA

Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group Issues Paper and Call for Submissions – Thoroughbred Welfare Initiative


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian Bookmakers' Association (ABA)

Australian Federation of Greyhound Breeders, Owners & Trainers Associations (AFGBOTA)

Australian Genetics Testing

Australian Jockeys' Association (AJA)

Australian Jumping Racing Association (AJRA)

Australian Standardbred Breeders Association (ASBA)

Australian Trainers' Association (ATA)

Australian Turf Club

Australian Warmblood Horse Association (AWHA)

BOTRA Tasmania (Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association)

Country Racing Association of Western Australia (CRA WA)

Country Racing Victoria

Equestrian Australia

Equestrian Western Australia

Equine Dental Association of Australia (EDAA)

Equine Veterinarians Australia

Federation of Bloodstock Agents Australia Limited

Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association

Greyhound Clubs Australia (GCA)

Greyhound Owners, Trainers and Breeders Association of Victoria (GOTBA)

Greyhounds Western Australia (GWA)

Harness Breeders NSW

Harness Breeders Victoria (HBV)

Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association

Horse SA

Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association

Metropolitan and Country Harness Racing Association (Victoria)

Northern Territory Treasury, Racing, Gaming & Licensing

Northern Territory Bloodhorse Breeders Association

NSW Bookmakers Association

NSW Jockeys Association

NSW Racehorse Owners Association (NSWROA)

NSW Standardbred Owners Association (NSWSOA)

NSW Trainers Association (NSWTA)

Provincial Racing Association of NSW (PRANSW)

Queensland Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association (BOTRA)

Queensland Country Racing Committee

Queensland Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing

Queensland Racehorse Owners' Association

Racehorse Owners’ Association Tasmania (ROAT)

Racehorse Owners Association of the Northern Territory

Racing Analytical Services

Racing NSW Country

Sandown Greyhound Racing Club (SGRC)

South Australia Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association (BOTRA)

South Australian Country Harness Racing Clubs Association

South Australian Jockey Club (SAJC)

South Australian Racehorse Owners' Association (SAROA)

South Australian Racing Clubs Council

South Australian Reinswomens’ Association

South Australian Thoroughbred Breeders (SATB)

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA)

Thoroughbred Breeders NSW (TBNSW)

Thoroughbred Breeders Queensland

Thoroughbred Breeders Tasmania

Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria (TBV)

Thoroughbred Breeders Western Australia (TBWA)

Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners' Association (TROA)

Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners’ Council of Australia

Thoroughbred Racing Northern Territory (TRNT)

United Harness Racing Association (UHRA)

Victorian Bookmakers’ Association (VBA)

Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club

Victorian Jockeys’ Association (VJA)

Victorian Square Trotters Association

Victorian Trainers Association

Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association (VTDA)

WA Horse Council

West Australian Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association (BOTRA)

Western Australian Jockeys’ Association (WAJA)

Western Australian Racehorse Owners' Association (WAROA)

Western Australian Provincial Thoroughbred Racing Association

Western Australian Racing Trainers’ Association (WARTA)

Western Australian Standardbred Breeder’s Association (WASBA)


Racing clubs

Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club (BGRC)

Brisbane Racing Club

Canberra Greyhound Racing Club

Canberra Harness Racing Club

Canberra Racing Club

Darwin Greyhound Association of the Northern Territories

Gloucester Park Harness Racing

Hobart Greyhound Racing Club

Launceston Greyhound Racing Club Inc.

Melbourne Racing Club

Mooney Valley Racing Club (MVRC)

South Australian Harness Racing Pony Association (SAHRPA)

Victoria Racing Club


Regulators and Principal Racing Authorities

Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission (GWIC)

Greyhounds Australasia (GA)

Greyhound Racing NSW

Greyhound Racing South Australia (GRSA)

Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV)

Harness Racing Australia (HRA)

Harness Racing New South Wales

Harness Racing South Australia

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV)

Office of Racing Integrity (Tasmania)

Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC)

Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA)

Racing Australia

Racing NSW

Racing Queensland

Racing Victoria

TasRacing (Tasmanian Racing Board)

Thoroughbred Racing SA (TRSA)


Employee associations

The Australian Workers' Union (AWU)

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2020, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2024
    • 912 Horse and Dog Racing Activities
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2024
    • Livestock Farm Workers
    • Animal Attendants and Trainers
    • Sportspersons
    • Greenkeepers
    • Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 August 2020

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, 2000 to 2019, May Quarter
    • 912 Horse and Dog Racing Activities.

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

  • Employment level by 3 digit industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.
    • 912 Horse and Dog Racing Activities.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET students and courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • RGR Racing Training Package
  • Jockey and Harness Race Driver
    • RGR40208 - Certificate IV in Racing (Jockey)
    • RGR40218 - Certificate IV in Racing (Jockey)
    • RGR40308 - Certificate IV in Racing (Harness Race Driver)
    • RGR40318 - Certificate IV in Racing (Harness Race Driver).
  • Other Racing
    • RGR20208 - Certificate II in Racing (Kennelhand)
    • RGR20213 - Certificate II in Racing (Greyhound)
    • RGR20218 - Certificate II in Racing Industry
    • RGR30308 - Certificate III in Racing Services (Racing Administration)
    • RGR30408 - Certificate III in Racing Services (Cadet Steward)
    • RGR30418 - Certificate III in Racing Services
    • RGR30508 - Certificate III in Racing Services (Track Maintenance)
    • RGR40408 - Certificate IV in Racing (Greyhound Trainer)
    • RGR40418 - Certificate IV in Racing (Greyhound Trainer)
    • RGR40508 - Certificate IV in Racing Services (Racing Administration)
    • RGR40518 - Certificate IV in Racing Integrity
    • RGR40608 - Certificate IV in Racing Services (Steward)
    • RGR50208 - Diploma of Racing Services (Racing Administration)
    • RGR50218 - Diploma of Racing Integrity Management
    • RGR50308 - Diploma of Racing Services (Steward).
  • Racehorse Trainer
    • RGR40108 - Certificate IV in Racing (Racehorse Trainer)
    • RGR40118 - Certificate IV in Racing (Racehorse Trainer)
    • RGR50108 - Diploma of Racing (Racehorse Trainer)
    • RGR50118 - Diploma of Racing (Racehorse Trainer).
  • Stablehand
    • RGR10108 - Certificate I in Racing (Stablehand)
    • RGR10118 - Certificate I in Racing (Stablehand)
    • RGR20108 - Certificate II in Racing (Stablehand)
    • RGR30208 - Certificate III in Racing (Advanced Stablehand)
    • RGR30218 - Certificate III in Racing (Stablehand)
    • RGR30318 - Certificate III in Racing (Driving Stablehand)
    • RGR30518 - Certificate III in Racing (Trackwork Rider).
  • Trackrider

RGR30108 - Certificate III in Racing (Trackrider).

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2015 to 2019 program enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 subject enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 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 five) 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%.

Racing Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2019 commencements
  • 2010 to 2019 completions
  • 2019 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Racing and Breeding IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 05 Nov 2020
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