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Overview

Provides information and data on the Sport sector, which is one component of the Sport, Fitness and Recreation industry.

The Sport sector is made up of a variety of entities that are all largely driven by the widespread popularity of sport in Australia. Over 90% of Australian adults have an interest in sport, with 8.4 million adults and 3 million children participating in sport each year. Most entities that make up the Sport sector are small scale enterprises that are member owned and rely on the contributions of community members and volunteers.

The Australian Government makes a significant contribution to Australian sport, the 2019-20 Federal Budget provided one of the largest funding packages for the Sport sector in years through an investment of $385.4 million.

Vocational education and training (VET) is required for a range of Sport related occupations such as:

  • Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials
  • Sports and Fitness Workers.

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

For more information on Aquatic and Community Recreation, Fitness and Outdoor Recreation
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 Sports and Physical Recreation Activities industry rose substantially over the period between 2001 and 2019, however in 2020 employment levels dropped by almost half to 61,000. Levels then increased by 71% in 2021, to 104,200. Projections predict this employment level to remain steady to 2025. The Amusement and Other Recreation Activities industry has followed a similar pattern, with a gradual overall rise between 2001 and 2019, followed by a steep decline to 5,900 in 2020 and significant increase to 20,500 in 2021. Projections indicate a decline to 14,200 by 2025.

Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials make up 16% of the Sport and Recreation Activities industry workforce with employment levels projected to increase by approximately 10% by 2025, while Sportspersons account for close to 7% of the workforce with employment levels predicted to increase slightly.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were close to 45,480 enrolments in Sport-related qualifications during 2020, a slight decline from 47,340 in 2019. Levels have remained relatively steady since 2016 with only minor fluctuations, the largest being an increase of 7% between 2018 and 2019. Program completions have been gradually increasing since 2017, from almost 14,400 to a peak of approximately 18,040 in 2020.

A large proportion of training takes place at the Certificate II (51%) and III (42%) level in sport and recreation-related qualifications, with the main intended occupations of General Clerk, and Sport and Fitness Workers.

Private training providers account for close to 80% of all training with approximately 10% delivered by schools and 8% by TAFE Institutes. The majority (58%) of subjects overall are Commonwealth and state funded, with domestic fee-for-service making up most of the remaining portion (40%). This varies somewhat between training providers, with funding at private training providers relatively evenly split between domestic fee for service (46%) and Commonwealth and state funded (52%).

In 2020 the largest proportion of enrolments were from students residing in Victoria (38%) and Queensland (26%). In addition, approximately 38% of training was delivered in Victoria, with a further 27% each in Queensland and Western Australia.

Apprentice and trainee commencements and completions peaked in 2012 (roughly 2,920 and 2,360 respectively) before decreasing sharply in 2013. This downward trend continued to 2015 for commencements and 2016 for completions, followed by an increase the following year for both. Commencements have declined each year since 2017 to around 1,040 in 2020, while completion numbers have remained steady since 2018 with 1,080 recorded in 2020.

The largest proportion of the apprenticeship and trainee training as at December 2020 was in sport and recreation-related qualifications, with the main intended occupations of Sports and Fitness Workers, and General Clerk. Approximately 41% of apprenticeships and traineeships were reported by Queensland, followed by New South Wales (24%), Western Australia (14%) and Victoria (11%).

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

The following generic skills were 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.

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.

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

The importance of communication 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 being 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, with top two employers identified as YMCA and Anytime Fitness.

There are a range of key demographic trends that influence the Sport sector, and therefore the skills required of the workforce. The diverse range of user groups including older people, youth and people with health issues and other conditions influence the variety of activity choices available and associated necessary skills. In addition, the prominence of sedentary lifestyles and obesity creates challenges around the role of sport, fitness and recreation in promoting physical health. Socio-economic factors and cultural diversity also impact participation levels, with initiatives in place to encourage participation. These types of initiatives can help bring communities together and provide a platform for people to engage and promote awareness of broader community issues.

There are a number of key strategic and policy developments occurring which will impact the Sport sector, including the release of a national Sport plan titled Sport 2030. The plan was developed after the Australian Sports Commission was rebranded to Sport Australia in 2018 and highlights that fewer Australians are playing sport and engaging in physical activity. The plan has been developed around four strategic priorities which lead to the outcomes of improved physical health, improved mental health, personal development, strengthening communities and growing the economy. The strategic priorities are building a more active Australia, achieving sporting excellence, safeguarding the integrity of sport and strengthening Australia’s sport industry. In addition, ongoing developments, consultations and updates of policies and frameworks are occurring at a state and territory level. To read more about these please see links under the relevant research section below.

The 2021 Skills Priority List identifies the occupations of Sports Administrator and Sports Centre Manager as having a strong future demand, partly due to the demographic changes of the Australian population and the ongoing policy and framework development occurring across all levels of government. The occupations of Other Sports Coach or Instructor, Sports Development Officer, Sports Umpire and Other Sports Official all have a moderate future demand.

Access to sporting facilities in remote areas continues to be a challenge for the sector, many of these facilities are provided by local councils and operate under limited budgets. The benefits of access to these facilities, particularly in remote areas, are wide ranging and include improved health outcomes, providing culturally and linguistically diverse communities the opportunity to participate in the community, and an outlet for younger people to pursue their sporting interests. To address this, the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast suggests increased collaboration between sporting clubs and councils to form strategies that work towards increasing facility access for the community.

According to the Sport Australia report Early impact of COVID-19 on sport and physical activity participation, 76% of Australian children participated in organised outside-of-school sport or physical activity at least once per year in 2019, with the majority of this participation through sports clubs (62%). However the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on organised sport largely due to the restrictions placed on it to adhere to health advice, with children’s participation most impacted. The updated report found 80% of adults and children who played organised sport before COVID-19 had returned to at least one of their sports by March 2021.

A FutureNow report found most sport at elite and community levels resumed as restrictions eased but not all participants and volunteers returned, with a survey assessing the impact of the crisis on community sport in May and June 2020 estimated 16,000 clubs (around one in four) Australia-wide were at risk of closure due to financial losses and new costs associated with the pandemic.

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
    • SIS10110 - Certificate I in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS10112 - Certificate I in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS10113 - Certificate I in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS10115 - Certificate I in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS20115 - Certificate II in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS20219 - Certificate II in Sport - Developing Athlete
    • SIS20310 - Certificate II in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS20312 - Certificate II in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS20313 - Certificate II in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS20319 - Certificate II in Sport Coaching
    • SIS20410 - Certificate II in Sport Career Oriented Participation
    • SIS20412 - Certificate II in Sport Career Oriented Participation
    • SIS20510 - Certificate II in Sport Coaching
    • SIS20512 - Certificate II in Sport Coaching
    • SIS20513 - Certificate II in Sport Coaching
    • SIS30115 - Certificate III in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS30419 - Certificate III in Sport - Athlete
    • SIS30510 - Certificate III in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS30512 - Certificate III in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS30513 - Certificate III in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS30610 - Certificate III in Sport Career Oriented Participation
    • SIS30612 - Certificate III in Sport Career Oriented Participation
    • SIS30613 - Certificate III in Sport Career Oriented Participation
    • SIS30710 - Certificate III in Sport Coaching
    • SIS30712 - Certificate III in Sport Coaching
    • SIS30713 - Certificate III in Sport Coaching
    • SIS30810 - Certificate III in Sports Trainer
    • SIS30812 - Certificate III in Sports Trainer
    • SIS30813 - Certificate III in Sports Trainer
    • SIS40115 - Certificate IV in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS40319 - Certificate IV  in Sport Coaching
    • SIS40410 - Certificate IV in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS40412 - Certificate IV in Sport and Recreation
    • SIS40419 - Certificate IV  in Sport Development
    • SIS40510 - Certificate IV in Sport Coaching
    • SIS40512 - Certificate IV in Sport Coaching
    • SIS40610 - Certificate IV in Sport Development
    • SIS40612 - Certificate IV in Sport Development
    • SIS50115 - Diploma of Sport and Recreation Management
    • SIS50319 - Diploma of Sport
    • SIS50410 - Diploma of Sport and Recreation Administration
    • SIS50510 - Diploma of Sport Coaching
    • SIS50512 - Diploma of Sport Coaching
    • SIS50610 - Diploma of Sport Development
    • SIS50612 - Diploma of Sport Development
    • SIS50712 - Diploma of Sport and Recreation Management.
  • SRO Outdoor Recreation Industry Training Package (Superseded by SIS)
    • SRO10106 - Certificate I in Sport and Recreation
    • SRO20103 - Certificate II in Sport and Recreation
    • SRO20106 - Certificate II in Sport and Recreation
    • SRO20199 - Certificate II in Sport and Recreation
    • SRO30103 - Certificate III in Sport and Recreation
    • SRO30106 - Certificate III in Sport and Recreation
    • SRO30199 - Certificate III in Sport and Recreation
    • SRO40103 - Certificate IV in Sport and Recreation
    • SRO40106 - Certificate IV in Sport and Recreation
    • SRO40199 - Certificate IV in Sport and Recreation
    • SRO50199 - Diploma of Sport and Recreation.
  • SRS Sport Industry Training Package (Superseded by SIS)
    • SRS20203 - Certificate II in Sport (Career-oriented participation)
    • SRS20206 - Certificate II in Sport (Career-oriented participation)
    • SRS20299 - Certificate II in Sport (Career Oriented Participation)
    • SRS20303 - Certificate II in Sport (Coaching)
    • SRS20306 - Certificate II in Sport (Coaching)
    • SRS20399 - Certificate II in Sport (Officiating)
    • SRS20403 - Certificate II in Sport (Officiating)
    • SRS20406 - Certificate II in Sport (Officiating)
    • SRS30203 - Certificate III in Sport (Career-oriented participation)
    • SRS30206 - Certificate III in Sport (Career-oriented participation)
    • SRS30299 - Certificate III in Sport (Career Oriented Participation)
    • SRS30303 - Certificate III in Sport (Coaching)
    • SRS30306 - Certificate III in Sport (Coaching)
    • SRS30399 - Certificate III in Sport (Coaching)
    • SRS30403 - Certificate III in Sport (Officiating)
    • SRS30406 - Certificate III in Sport (Officiating)
    • SRS30499 - Certificate III in Sport (Officiating)
    • SRS30503 - Certificate III in Sport (Athlete support services)
    • SRS30506 - Certificate III in Sport (Athlete support services)
    • SRS30599 - Certificate III in Sport (Trainer)
    • SRS30601 - Certificate III in Sport (Massage Therapy)
    • SRS40203 - Certificate IV in Sport (Coaching)
    • SRS40206 - Certificate IV in Sport (Coaching)
    • SRS40299 - Certificate IV in Sport (Coaching)
    • SRS40399 - Certificate IV in Sport (Development)
    • SRS40403 - Certificate IV in Sport (Athlete support services)
    • SRS40406 - Certificate IV in Sport (Athlete support services)
    • SRS40503 - Certificate IV in Sport (Development)
    • SRS40506 - Certificate IV in Sport (Development)
    • SRS50506 - Diploma of Sport (Development).

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 Instructor
    • 452315 Swimming Coach or Instructor 
    • 452317 Other Sports Coach or Instructor
    • 541211 Information Officer 
    • 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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