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Racing

Overview

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.

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. 

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

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The employment level for the Horse and Dog Racing Activities industry fluctuated between 2002 and 2022, peaking in 2009 and 2017 (around 13,900 and 14,200 respectively). In 2022 the employment level was around 7,300, decreasing from an employment level of 9,000 in 2021. Levels are projected to increase to around 9,900 by 2025.

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 1% projected to 2026 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 15% by 2026.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were approximately 1,380 program enrolments in Racing-related qualifications during 2021, increasing from around 1,270 in 2020. Program completions have fluctuated between 2017 and 2019 and declined sharply between 2019 and 2020. There were around 210 program completions in 2021, a slight decrease on the 230 completions during 2020. The proportion of subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program has decreased overall since 2017, to 87% in 2021.

During 2021, more than half of enrolments (53%) were in certificate III level qualifications, with a further 33% in certificate IV level qualifications. The most common areas of training were Stablehand (48%), followed by Racehorse Trainer (23%), Other Racing (19%) and Jockey and Harness Race Driver (9%). The most common intended occupations for qualifications in this sector were Horse Trainer, followed by Stablehand.

For enrolments during 2021, more training in the Racing sector was delivered by private training providers (83%) than TAFE institutes (13%). Approximately 85% of subjects for Racing-related qualifications were Commonwealth and state funded in 2021.

Students who enrolled in 2021 were mainly from Victoria (57%) and New South Wales (24%). The majority of training was delivered in Victoria (59%), followed by New South Wales (24%).

Apprentice and trainee commencements and completions in this sector fell overall between 2012 and 2021. Commencements increased sharply, almost doubling in number, between 2019 and 2020, and decreased very slightly to around 440 in 2021. Completions have declined since a small uptick in 2019, with approximately 90 completions in 2021. Apprentices and trainees in this sector have an intended occupation of Horse Trainer (39%), Stablehand (36%), Jockey (18%), Horse Breeder (6%) or Dog or Horse Racing Official (2%). New South Wales and Victoria reported 38% and 36% of apprenticeship and traineeship training respectively, followed by 11% each in Queensland and South Australia.

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 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 and Breeding 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 2021 Skills Forecast identifies the primary difficulty the industry is facing is attracting registered training providers (RTOs) to deliver training. The key challenge is the cost to RTOs in offering new training products for qualifications in thin training markets. RGR training requires access to live animals, stables/kennels, tracks and equipment that would constitute a significant capital investment for RTOs. Of additional concern is the safety risks associated with the industry. New safety standards in training relating to horses have made delivery difficult, even for TAFEs across various states. The Case for Change for Project 1: Racing & Breeding Training Delivery Support outlined in the Racing and Breeding IRC’s 2021 Skills Forecast (pp. 19-27) states the lack of RTOs delivering training exacerbates the difficulties the industry has in attracting new workers, identified in the Racing and Breeding IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, and career pathways are not visible to potential industry participants. There are significant industry shortages, but the industry is dominated by smaller employers unable to support the high costs of training and to meet all the requirements for the delivery of apprenticeships and traineeships. The Case for Change proposes to develop supporting assessment tools and associated materials and resources that will partially ameliorate the costs of delivery of the assessment and training for RTOs and employers comprising:

  • Enterprise Information Guide –providing guidance to employers for the development of the business case and training plan when considering putting on apprentices or trainees, or otherwise engaging with formal training
  • Trainer Guide – provided to ensure trainers around Australia have access to nationally consistent foundations prior to developing their specific curriculum materials
  • Assessment Tasks and Tools – designed to support nationally consistent assessment
  • Marking Guide – a critical element to creating nationally consistent assessment
  • Mapping Matrix – maps the required competencies against units and assessments.

The proposal targets low enrolment products and those not currently being offered by RTOs and have been, or in danger of being marked for deletion. The eight qualifications are:

  • RGR20117 Certificate II in Racing (Greyhound)
  • RGR30117 Certificate III in Racing (Greyhound)
  • RGR40419 Certificate IV in Greyhound Racing Industry
  • RGR30318 Certificate III in Racing (Driving Stablehand)
  • RGR40619 Certificate IV in Horse Breeding
  • RGR50319 Diploma of Horse Stud Management
  • RGR40518 Certificate IV in Racing Integrity
  • RGR50218 Diploma of Racing Integrity Management.

The Racing and Breeding IRC’s 2021 Skills Forecast states the 2020 Annual Update identified several trends, challenges and opportunities that are remain relevant. The Racing and Breeding IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast includes three issues, which 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 was required to a core unit of the Certificate II in Racing Industry – one of the core units for this training package was unsuitable for students wanting to pursue a career in greyhound racing. The Certificate II in Racing Industry has been updated to better reflect the skills requirements of entry level careers in the racing industry across all codes, including thoroughbred, harness and greyhound. The core unit ACMEQU205 Apply knowledge of horse behaviour was removed and included as a mandatory unit in the Stable Hand and Stud Hand specialisations, so as not to present a barrier to those wishing to pursue a career in greyhound racing, and two elective greyhound units are also included
  • 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 its Off the Track WA (OTTWA) estate and network of retrainers for rehoming of thoroughbred and standardbred racing horses was opened in October 2020
    • 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.

Further industry insights included in the 2021 Skills Forecast include:

  • Thoroughbred Industry Careers have created a formal education pathway called the ‘Accelerator Program’. The program offers practical, hands-on experience over 12 weeks of intensive training, after which learners will be guided into the workplace with the option of commencing the RGR30518 - Certificate III in Racing (Trackwork Rider) as a traineeship.
  • An on-going project funded by AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program, partnering with Racing Victoria and La Trobe University, to develop tests to better identify concussion and so improve jockey health and wellbeing.

The Western Australian Racing, Equine and Farriery Industry Snapshot states there are too few trackriders to support the racing industry in Western Australia and there is a small shortage in the supply of jockeys. The occupations of Trackrider and Jockey are included in the State Priority Occupation List at Priority Level 2. The national Skills Priority List includes the occupations of Horse Trainer and Kennel Hand as not in national shortage, with strong future demand, with Horse Riding Coach or Instructor, Dog or Horse Racing Official, and Jockey not in national shortage with moderate future demand.

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 2021 Skills Forecast shows that due to the strict biosecurity protocols developed as a result of ongoing health issues and strengthened in response to the equine influenza outbreak in 2007-2008 the industry has been able to continue with fewer disruptions than many other industries in Australia. The examples provided in the Skills Forecast of the localised impact of COVID-19 on the industry are:

  • Horseracing, harness racing and greyhound racing were ordered by the Tasmanian Government to cease on 2 April 2020. Tasmanian racing events returned in mid-June, but there have been shortfalls in race field fees and jockey numbers which have left operators struggling to cope. There is a dependence on Victorian participants being able travel to Tasmania to support events, and some Tasmanian participants shifted interstate during the hiatus to be able to continue racing.
  • The Victorian Government ‘Experience Economy Survival Package’ provided Racing Victoria with $16.6 million to help them maintain operations that include equine and participant welfare programs during the absence of spectators and other race day revenue streams.
  • Smaller racetracks unable to accommodate the COVID-19 biosecurity protocols have closed.
  • Border controls requiring trainers to relinquish their animals (particularly horses) to other trainers and cancelled or postponed meetings have impacted their livelihoods.
  • The breeding and sales season is economically crucial for many regional communities, but the thoroughbred auctions were held exclusively online, and many horses were withdrawn from catalogues.

The Skills Forecast states the pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of capabilities development for industry participants, and training has been able to continue where adherence to increased biosecurity protocols is possible. Classroom-based activities are being delivered online or in person where gatherings are permitted, and social distancing is achievable.

Links and resources

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

 

IRC and skills forecast

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

Relevant Research

 

$25 Million Commitment to Equine Welfare in Victoria – Racing Victoria

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

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

Equine Welfare Strategic Plan – Racing Victoria

Greyhound Racing Careers & Jockeys Project – Skills Impact

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 (AgriFutures Australia)

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

Racing to Improve Jockey Health and Safety – AgriFutures Australia

Racing, Equine and Farriery Industry Snapshot – Future Now Creative and Leisure Industries Training Council (Western Australia)

Retraining Horses & Greyhounds to New Environments Project – Skills Impact

RWWA Increases Its Commitment to Racehorse Welfare – Racing and Wagering Western Australia

Skills Priority List: June 2021 – National Skills Commission

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

Thorough Care SA – Racing SA

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

Western Australian Racehorse Welfare Plan released – Western Australian Government

 

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 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 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 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 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)

Racing SA

 

Employee associations

The Australian Workers' Union (AWU)

Data sources and notes

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

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2025
    • 912 Horse and Dog Racing Activities.

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
    • Livestock Farm Workers
    • Animal Attendants and Trainers
    • Sportspersons
    • Greenkeepers
    • Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials.

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 3 digit ‘912 Horse and Dog Racing Activities’, 2002 to 2022, 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 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)
    • RGR40221 - Certificate IV in Racing (Jockey)
    • RGR40308 - Certificate IV in Racing (Harness Race Driver)
    • RGR40318 - Certificate IV in Racing (Harness Race Driver)
  • Other Racing
    • ACM30717 - Certificate III in Horse Breeding
    • AHC30310 - Certificate III in Horse Breeding
    • RGR20208 - Certificate II in Racing (Kennelhand)
    • RGR20213 - Certificate II in Racing (Greyhound)
    • RGR20218 - Certificate II in Racing Industry
    • RGR20221 - 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
    • RGR30419 - Certificate III in Racing Services
    • RGR30508 - Certificate III in Racing Services (Track Maintenance)
    • RGR30619 - Certificate III in Horse Breeding
    • 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:

    • 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.

    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:

    • 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.
Updated: 30 Nov 2022
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