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Outdoor Recreation

Overview

The page provides information and data on the Outdoor Recreation sector, which is one component of the Sport, Fitness and Recreation industry.

The Outdoor Recreation sector includes nature-based tourism, camps and outdoor education, adventure therapy, and a full range of outdoor recreational activities such as cycling, fishing, bushwalking, canoeing, surfing, climbing and many others. While some of these activities may be considered a sport, there are many people who participate in them without association with a team, club or competition. The natural environment is typically a central component of an outdoor recreational activity. It is also noted that outdoor learning may occur in the absence of formal outdoor recreation education, through experiences rather than adherence to curriculum.

Outdoor recreation and education programs are delivered in a variety of venues, some in and around major tourist areas and natural heritage sites within an hour of capital cities. Others operate out of residential centres or are journey-based and explore areas that are only accessible by foot or boat.

Relevant organisations in this sector include commercial, not-for-profit and fee-for-service providers, state peak bodies, national peak bodies, volunteer organisations conducting programs for youth (for example, Scouts), the Department of Education and independent schools. These providers vary from small sole traders to multi-million-dollar national organisations.

Examples of job roles within this sector that require vocational education and training are:

  • Outdoor Adventure Guide
  • Fishing Guide
  • Youth Workers
  • Camp Managers.

Training package products for the Outdoor Recreation sectors have recently undergone extensive updating to meet the requirements of current standards for training packages and to further strengthen and align them to contemporary job roles and industry requirements.

Nationally recognised training for Outdoor Recreation occupations is delivered under the SIS – Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package.  

For more information on Aquatic and Community RecreationFitness and Sport sectors, please visit the respective pages.

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

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The employment level in the Sport and Physical Recreation industry increased by almost three quarters (71%) in 2021 to 104,200, after subsequent years of growth peaking at 117,800 in 2019 and following a decline between 2019 and 2020 of almost half (48%). Projections indicate employment levels will remain steady to 2025.

The Amusement and Other Recreation Activities industry also saw a sharp decline in employment levels in 2020 followed by a significant increase in 2021 (from approximately 5,900 to a peak of 20,500), following an overall increase in employment levels that previously peaked at 17,500 in 2019. Projections indicate employment levels will decline in this industry to 14,200 by 2025.

Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials, and Fitness Instructors make up over 25% of the Sport and Recreation Activities industry workforce. Employment levels in these occupations are projected to further increase to 2025, by approximately 10% and 6% respectively.

Outdoor Adventure Guides currently make up less than 1% of the industry workforce, and employment levels are projected to remain steady for this occupation to 2025.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Enrolment levels in Outdoor Recreation-related qualifications declined almost a quarter (24%) between 2016 and 2018, and despite recording an increase in 2019 to around 9,460 have declined again in 2020 to just under 8,330. The number of completions have also declined overall to a low of approximately 2,820 in 2020, with levels fluctuating  since 2016 and  a peak of over 3,920 in 2019.

The majority (83%) of training occurred in the Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation, which had the sole intended occupation of Outdoor Adventure Instructor. Private training providers delivered 69% of all training, followed by Schools (13%), TAFE institutes (10%) and enterprise training providers (7%). Around 60% of all training was Commonwealth and state funded, with domestic fee-for-service (37%) making up the majority of the remaining portion. These figures did vary depending on the training provider, with private training providers recording 51% of subjects as Commonwealth and state funded and 45% as domestic fee for service.

Just over two thirds of students enrolled in Outdoor Recreation-related qualifications in 2020 resided in four states, Western Australia (24%), Queensland (18%), Victoria (16%) and New South Wales (10%). The highest proportion of training was delivered in Western Australia at approximately 46%, followed by Queensland (19%), Victoria (17%) and New South Wales (13%).

Apprentices and trainees only make up a small portion of total training within the Outdoor Recreation sector. Commencements and completions both declined in 2015 (by 33% and 40% respectively) and have fluctuated since then. Commencements remained steady in 2020 at approximately 90, after decreasing from roughly 130 in 2018. This remains well below the peak of approximately 230 in 2012. Completions declined by half (52%) in 2020 to around 50, following a 46% increase in 2019 to approximately 110.

The majority of apprentices and trainees in training as at December 2020 were enrolled in either a Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation or a Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation, with the sole intended occupation of Outdoor Adventure Guide. The majority of apprenticeships and traineeships in 2020 were reported by Victoria (66%) or New South Wales (26%), with the remainder in Queensland.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, please 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, please sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, the following form the top priority skills required across the industry:

  • Teamwork and communication
  • Problem solving
  • Self-management
  • Technical/job-specific skills.

Additionally, other skills and knowledge gaps identified include Online and social media, Marketing, Initiative and enterprise (i.e. small business management) and Sports Administration.

The following generic skills were also identified as highest priority for the Sport and Recreation industry:

  • Customer Service/Marketing
  • Communication/Virtual collaboration/Social intelligence
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Managerial/Leadership.

The importance of communication skills is supported by findings from the job vacancy data, in which communication was identified as the most in demand advertised generic skill in the Sports and Recreation Activities industry, followed by energetic, organisational skills, planning and detail orientated.

According to job vacancy data the most advertised occupations were for Fitness Instructors, followed by Swimming Coach or Instructor and Other Sports Coach or Instructor, with top two employers identified as YMCA and Anytime Fitness.

It’s predicted that the release of the Australian Adventure Activity Standard (AAAS) and Good Practice Guides may impact training qualification enrolments in coming years. The AAAS has been designed to provide a national framework to help the Outdoor Recreation sector develop effective, responsible, sustainable and safe practices. Until now it has been up to individual states to develop voluntary standards, with many states presenting similar information but focusing on different activities. Although the AAAS will remain voluntary, it is expected that many operators will use the information to review operating procedures, employment and staff practices which in turn is expected to impact enrolments.

According to the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, the economic benefits of the Outdoor Recreation sector have largely been unquantified in past. Therefore to better understand this sector and the impacts it has on the Australian economy, a quantitative study was undertaken by SkillsIQ in partnership with Marsden Jacob Associates and Cadence Economics. The results of the study show that the estimated contribution of the Outdoor Recreation sector on the economy in one year is $11 billion, which is equivalent to approximately 1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In addition, the study found that nature based outdoor recreation activities provide benefits to the economy that extend through to avoided costs on the healthcare system; in New South Wales it’s estimated the sector will provide $480 million in lifetime avoided healthcare costs.

The Australian Institute of Fitness reported Outdoor Activities as one of the top ten fitness trends for 2021, and again in 2022, noting the seismic shifts the global fitness industry has faced following the onset of COVID-19.

FutureNow’s report reveals outdoor recreation providers were immediately affected by COVID-19 due to restrictions on social distancing, the size of public gatherings, state and regional border closures preventing tourism, and by school closures shutting down Outdoor Education programs. As some state and national borders remain in place, the decline in tourist numbers is likely to continue to affect outdoor recreation businesses into the future.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industries, employment projections to May 2025
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities.
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2025
    • 4523 Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials
    • 4521 Fitness Instructors
    • 4524 Sportspersons
    • 1491 Amusement, Fitness and Sports Centre Managers
    • 3623 Greenkeepers
    • 5421 Receptionists
    • 6211 Sales Assistants (General)
    • 4522 Outdoor Adventure Guides.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ08 - Employed persons by Occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 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 3 digit industries, 2001 to 2021, May Quarter
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation 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:
    • 910 Sports and Recreation Activities, nfd
    • 911 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities
    • 913 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities
    • 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 and Total VET students and courses from the following training packages or qualifications:

  • SIS Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package
    • SIS20210 - Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation
    • SIS20213 - Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation
    • SIS20419 - Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation
    • SIS30410 - Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation
    • SIS30413 - Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation
    • SIS40310 - Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation
    • SIS40313 - Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation
    • SIS40619 - Certificate IV  in Outdoor Leadership
    • SIS50310 - Diploma of Outdoor Recreation
    • SIS50419 - Diploma of Outdoor Leadership.
  • SRO Outdoor Recreation Industry Training Package (Superseded by SIS)
    • SRO20203 - Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation
    • SRO20206 - Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation
    • SRO20299 - Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation
    • SRO20303 - Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation (Multiple activities)
    • SRO20306 - Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation (Multiple Activities)
    • SRO30203 - Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation
    • SRO30206 - Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation
    • SRO30299 - Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation
    • SRO30303 - Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation (Multiple activities)
    • SRO30306 - Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation (Multiple Activities)
    • SRO40203 - Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation
    • SRO40206 - Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation
    • SRO40299 - Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation.
    • SRO50206 - Diploma of Outdoor Recreation

Superseded qualifications and training packages are grouped with current training products. 

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. 

SIS Sport, Fitness and Recreation 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.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labour Insight Real-time Labour 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
    • Community and Personal Service Workers
    • Managers
    • Clerical and Administrative Workers
    • 9111 Health and Fitness Centres and Gymnasia Operation 
    • 9112 Sport and Physical Recreation Clubs and Sports Professionals 
    • 9113 Sports and Physical Recreation Venues, Grounds and Facilities Operation 
    • 9114 Sport and Physical Recreation Administrative Service 
    • 9131 Amusement Parks and Centres Operation 
    • 9139 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities n.e.c.
  • Employers
    • 452111 Fitness Instructors 
    • 452315 Swimming Coach or Instructor 
    • 452317 Other Sports Coach or Instructor
    • 541211 Information Officers 
    • 131112 Sales and Marketing Manager
    • 9111 Health and Fitness Centres and Gymnasia Operation 
    • 9112 Sport and Physical Recreation Clubs and Sports Professionals 
    • 9113 Sports and Physical Recreation Venues, Grounds and Facilities Operation 
    • 9114 Sport and Physical Recreation Administrative Service 
    • 9131 Amusement Parks and Centres Operation 
    • 9139 Amusement and Other Recreation Activities n.e.c.
Updated: 24 Jan 2022
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