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This page provides high-level information and data on the Transport industry which comprises four main industry sectors:

  • Aviation
  • Maritime
  • Rail
  • Transport and Logistics.

The Transport industry plays a key role in enabling Australia’s economic activity. Without the capacities and capabilities provided by the Transport industry, no passengers or freight would move.

Nationally recognised training for the Transport industry is delivered under the following training packages: AVI - Aviation, MAR - Maritime and TLI - Transport and Logistics.

For more information and data specific to the Aviation, Maritime, Rail, and Transport and Logistics sectors please visit the respective pages.

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

IRC and skills forecasts

Industry cluster snapshot

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

Employment and training snapshot

Road Transport is the largest employing industry sector followed by Transport Support Services with Water Transport being the smallest. Employment levels have generally risen between 2000 and 2019 for Transport related industries however levels have declined in 2020 for Road Transport, Air and Space Transport and Transport Support Services between 2019 and 2020. Employment levels are projected to increase for all sub-sectors over the next four years until 2024 except for Water Transport and Warehousing and Storage Services which are projected to decline.

Program enrolments in Transport industry related qualifications declined overall between 2015 (128,000) and 2019 (100,490). Program completions in this industry declined sharply between 2015 and 2016 (from 51,460 to 26,770) but slightly increased in 2017 (28,830) before dipping again to 20,896 completions in 2019. The proportion of subjects delivered as part of nationally recognised program has declined overall between 2015 and 2019, with 82% in 2015 and 70% in 2019.

Industry insights on skills needs

The 2019 Skills Forecasts for the different sectors within Transport industry, Aviation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, Maritime IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, Rail IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast and Transport and Logistics IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, identify some common themes around future skill demands for the workforce including:

  • An ageing workforce will create skills gaps as existing workers retire unless the industry can attract, retain and upskill younger workers.
  • New technologies and automation are driving the need for digital skills within the industry, as well as new skills such as those required for maintenance and repair of automated equipment.
  • Advancements in autonomous and driverless technology will significantly impact the workforce creating demand for new skill sets to effectively manage and operate a more automated transport and logistics network.

Additionally, the top priority skills common to most the above four Skills Forecasts are health and safety, digital skills and organisational skills. The top 5 generic skills for each Skills Forecast had the following generic skills in common at varying positions in the list:

  • Design mindset / Thinking critically / System thinking / Solving problems 
  • Learning agility / Information literacy / Intellectual autonomy and self-management (adaptability)
  • Managerial / Leadership
  • Technology.

For more information on skill needs specific to each Transport industry sector please visit the respective pages.

COVID-19 impact

The Maritime IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast, Rail IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast, and Transport and Logistics IRC’s 2020, Skills Forecast do not include any specific information in relation to COVID-19. Information provided by government, industry advisory bodies and associations indicate the Transport industry has been strongly affected by the pandemic. This is particularly the case in Victoria, with Stage 4 restrictions from 3 August 2020 limiting the movement of people impacting, for example, warehousing operations, public transport and supply chain operations. Australia closed its borders to non-citizens and non-residents on 20 March 2020, and a range of internal border restrictions have been implemented by the states and territories that have been varied at short notice to accommodate rapid changes in jurisdictional circumstances. Some sectors or sub-sectors have received essential service status, allowing their operations to continue, but all have been challenged by changes in government policy, consumer demand and supply issues.


The Australian government is providing assistance to the aviation sector through tax and government charges relief and funding programs to secure the regional air network. The Civil Aviation Authority (CASA) has been producing advice for the industry, extended certificates and permissions and shifted commencement dates for new regulations. The closure of Australia’s border and reduction in air travel has had a dire effect on passenger airline companies. In their post-covid recovery plan, Qantas Group announced its workforce would be reduced by at least 6,000 roles and 15,000 employees would remain stood down, remaining 747 aircraft would be retired immediately and 100 aircraft would remain grounded for up to 12 months with those on lease returned when the contract falls due. Virgin Australia entered voluntary administration and was subsequently sold. Along with the loss of around 3,000 roles, parts of regional Australia may be impacted the planned restructure includes the retirement of aircraft that can operate in their areas. An article published by Flight Safety Australia reports the International Air Transport Association estimates airline revenue will be 55% less than in 2019. It also reports that while the air maintenance and tourism-related charters sectors have been severely impacted, not all sectors of the aviation industry have been adversely affected. Air cargo and international charter flights increased, and fly-in-fly out charters for the resource sector, aerial application and training flights - under strict protocols - are continuing.


Operations in the Maritime Industry have been required to navigate a complex, highly regulated environment under COVID-19 restrictions. Australia’s ports have remained open, however there are federal and state government and individual port requirements that must complied with. The operating environment has been subject to rapid change, and government regulatory bodies and industry associations have been providing information to assist the workforce including: the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has been providing advice to the international maritime and domestic commercial vessel industries, and has extended AMSA issued standards of training certification and watchkeeping (STCW) certificates that may expire; the Department of Health has released a fact sheet specifically for the Marine Industry; Maritime Industry Australia Limited (MIAL) is providing up-to-date information gathered from government departments to members; Shipping Australia Limited has COVID-19 Shipping requirements and restrictions at Australian ports; plus international policies; The Boating Industry Association advised members in March that services such as boat manufacture, service and repair work, some retail and wholesale sales and distribution, and the management and maintenance of maritime infrastructure would continue. Cruise ships, defined as capable of carrying more than 100 passengers, were prohibited from operating cruises with the ban extended to 17 September 2020. The March edition of the Marina Industries Association newsletter reported serious impacts to their sector including significant job losses, supported by a survey report commissioned by the association released in July, and a shift to online learning for their education division. The 10 challenges of the coronavirus crisis supplement of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE’s (AGCS) Safety & Shipping Review 2020 reports the most pressing issue has been the inability to change crews. There are restrictions in major ports in 120 countries, and crew changes are prohibited in a further 92 countries.


The Australasian Railway Association reports the Australian rail industry has continued to operate during COVID-19, although with supply chain disruptions, some projects put on hold and 68% of respondents have put workforce expansion on hold. Major government projects that have continued include those in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales, with Sydney Trains also announcing a recruitment drive for a record number of apprentices. Community consultation for Inland Rail was moved online, and measures implemented to protect the workforce and regional communities. Rail journeys such as The Ghan and Indian Pacific were suspended due to internal border restrictions. Some jurisdictions also suspended or imposed limitations on internal public transport routes; Australian Rail Maps has been providing a listing of services and their current status. A report by WSP Advisory Sweden shows that on 10 May, passenger rail travel decreased by 68% compared to the baseline on 15 January. A further report by WSP that analyses the supply side of Australian public transport cautions that there are likely to be behavioural shifts by the public in relation to using public transport, and governments and operators may need to optimise public transport usage to encourage the use of public transport that provides the best outcomes for patrons and operators.

Transport and Logistics

The pandemic has been challenging for the Transport and Logistics sector. In March, major supermarket chains such as Coles and Woolworths had to suspend home delivery to all but the most vulnerable customers, introduce restrictions on purchases as distribution networks tried to keep ahead of panic buying and suppliers experienced difficulty accessing imported goods and establish pop-up distribution centres. An Infection Control Skills for Transport and Logistics skills set was approved on 12 May to assist the industry in keeping the workforce and those it services safe. Although the Freight and Logistics industry sub-sector was granted essential service status, jurisdictional restrictions and conditions have been subject to rapid change, and industry associations such as the Australian Trucking Association and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator have been providing support to the workforce to keep up to date. The Bus Industry Confederation survey shows the Long Distance, Tourism, Charter and Express sector has been devastated as a large percentage of income is derived from domestic tourists and sports, local groups and educational charters. Delivery service operators such as Australia Post have been heavily impacted as more Australians moved to online shopping. In response, hundreds of new staff were hired, new facilities opened, extra freighter flights have been chartered, and posties retrained to drive delivery vans to move parcels faster. The Stage 4 restrictions imposed in Melbourne have added an extra burden for the Transport and Logistics industry. Victoria is described as the freight and logistics capital of Australia, and although the Transport industry was recognised as an essential service and the Melbourne port fully operational, under the new regulations warehousing operations may only continue with two-thirds of their regular workforce on site at a time. Although Australia Post received an exemption to continue delivery operations, Qantas was required to close its freight terminal due to infection amongst their workforce, causing delays as alternatives were put in place. With retail outlets required to close and encouraging online purchasing, extra strain on delivery services is to be expected during the lockdown period. These conditions may not ultimately be unique to Victoria and need to be navigated in other regions as the pandemic progresses.

Links and resources

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


Relevant research

A National Rail Industry Plan for the Benefit of Australia – Australasian Railway Association

Australasian Railway Association Skills Capability Study: Skills Crisis: A Call to Action – BIS Oxford Economics

Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019 – Infrastructure Australia

Aviation Policy 2016 – The Australian Aviation Associations Forum

Aviation Safety Regulation Review – Australian Government

Aviation Workforce Skills Study – Australian Industry Standards

Employers' Perspectives on Training: Three Industries – Chandra Shah

Improving Workforce Attraction and Retention Rates for Australian Transport and Logistics Companies – Paul Kahlert

National Action Plan – Australia. Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development

National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy – Australia. Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development

National Transport Regulatory Reform: Issues Paper – Productivity Commission

Queensland Transport and Logistics Workforce, Current and Future Trends: Maritime and Ports – Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads

Rail – Platforms for the Future 2017-35 – Australasian Railway Association

Regional Aviation Policy: Issues Paper – Australian Government. Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Report of the Expert Panel on Aviation Skills & Training - Expert Panel on Aviation Skills & Training in Australia

Skilling the Australian Workforce for the Digital Economy – Victor Gekara, Darryn Snell, Alemayehu Molla, Stan Karanasios & Amanda Thomas

Smart Rail Route Map – Australasian Railway Association; Rail Manufacturing CRC; Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation, Deakin University

The Economic Contribution of the Australian Maritime Industry – PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

The Evolution of Skills in Transport and Logistics – TAFE NSW Enterprise

The Future of Aircraft Maintenance in Australia: Workforce Capability, Aviation Safety and Industry Development – University of NSW

The Future of Work: Occupational and Education Trends in Supply Chain and Logistics in Australia – Deloitte Access Economics

Value of Rail – Deloitte Access Economics


COVID-19 references

10 Challenges of the Coronavirus Crisis – Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE (AGCS)

Adapting to COVID-19 – Inland Rail, Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)

An Ill Wind: COVID-19 and Aviation – Robert Wilson; Flight Safety Australia

Changes to Coles Online – Coles Group Limited

Coles and Woolworths Suspend Deliveries as Demand for Groceries Rapidly Rises – Brittany Coles, MHD Supply Chain News

Coronavirus Impacts – Australia Post

Coronavirus Information – Australian Trucking Association

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response – National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

COVID-19: Impacts and Stimulus Required: Deregulated Sector: Long Distance, Express, Tour and Charter – Bus Industry Confederation

State and Territory Border Closures Due to COVID-19 – Australian Interstate Quarantine

Border Restrictions, 19 Mar 2020 – Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women, Minister for Home Affairs

Australian Public Transport: COVID Disruptions – Australian Rail Maps

Aviation – Australian Government. Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Campaigns: Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for the marine industry – Australian Government. Department of Health

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for marine pilots – Australian Government. Department of Health

COVID-19 Advice for Industry – Civil Aviation Safety Authority

COVID19 Impacting Maritime – Maritime Industry Australia Ltd

Cruise Ship Prohibition Extended – Australian Border Force

Domestic Updates – Australia Post

Impacts of Covid-19 Pandemic on Australian Marinas – Ed Mahoney and Teresa Herbowicz; Marina Industries Association

Infection Control Skills for Transport and Logistics – Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC)

METRONET Projects – Australian Government and Government of Western Australia

MIA Monthly eNews, March 2020 – Marina Industries Association

Pandemic: Non-Medical Operational Safety Aspects, Supplemental Materials [COVID-19 Safety Roadmap] – Flight Safety Foundation

Preparing for Recovery: Rail Suppliers, Contractors and Freight Operators and COVID-19 – Australasian Railway Association

Public Transport and COVID-19: How to Transition from Response to Recovery – WSP

Qantas Group Announces Post-COVID Recovery Plan and Equity Raising for a Stronger Future – Qantas

Rail and the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic – WSP Advisory Sweden

Shipping Requirements and Restrictions at Australian Ports; plus International Policies – Shipping Australia Limited

Statement from The Premier 03 August 2020 – Premier of Victoria, The Hon Daniel Andrews

Sydney Metro – NSW Government

Transport Industry Open for Business to Support Victoria – Victorian Transport Association

Update on Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Woolworths Group Limited

Update Regarding Rail Journeys and COVID-19 – Journey Beyond

Update to Members on Covid-19 – Stay Safe – Boating Industry Association

Victoria’s Big Build – State Government of Victoria

Virgin Australia to slash 3,000 jobs for slimmed post-coronavirus airline, Tiger brand dumped – Michael Janda, ABC News

What Does Victoria’s State of Disaster Mean for Supply Chains? – Brittany Coles, MHD Supply Chain News


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Aerial Application Association of Australia

Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO)

Association of Tourist and Heritage Rail Australia

Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association

Australasian Institute of Marine Surveyors

Australasian Railway Association

Australian Airports Association

Australian Business Aviation Association

Australian Commercial Marine Group

Australian Furniture Removers Association

Australian Helicopter Industry Association

Australian Logistics Council

Australian Marine Exports

Australian Taxi Industry Association

Australian Trucking Association

Australian Warbirds Association

Automotive Training Board – NSW

Aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Business Association

Aviation/Aerospace Australia

Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA)

Boating Industry Association

Boating Industry Association of Western Australia

Bus Industry Confederation

Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport

International Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia

Flight Safety Foundation

Industry Skills Advisory Council - NT

Logistics Training Council - WA

Marina Industries Association

Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL)

NT Road Transport Association

Pro Aviation

Queensland Trucking Association

Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board

Rail Track Association Australia

Recreational Aviation Australia

Regional Aviation Association of Australia

Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Australian Division

Royal Federation of Aero Clubs of Australia

Safeskies Australia

Shipping Australia

Superyacht Australia

Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia

Victorian Transport Association

Waste, Recycling Industry Association (QLD)


Licensing/Regulatory bodies

Airservices Australia

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Australian Transport Safety Bureau

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator

Safe Work Australia


Employee associations

Australian & International Pilots Association

Australian Federation of Air Pilots

Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE)

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union

Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU)

Australian Services Union

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union

Flight Attendants Association of Australia

Maritime Union of Australia

Rail Tram and Bus Union

Rail & Maritime Transport Union Inc

Transport Workers Union

United Workers Union

Data sources and notes

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

  • by ANZSIC 2 digit industry, employment projections to May 2024
    • 46 Road Transport
    • 47 Rail Transport
    • 48 Water Transport
    • 49 Air and Space Transport
    • 52 Transport Support Services
    • 53 Warehousing and Storage Services.

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 2 digit industry, 2000 to 2020, May quarter
    • 46 Road Transport
    • 47 Rail Transport
    • 48 Water Transport
    • 49 Air and Space Transport
    • 52 Transport Support Services
    • 53 Warehousing and Storage Services.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training packages:

  • AVI Aviation Training Package
  • MAR Maritime Training Package
  • TLI Transport and Logistics Training Package.

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 program completions
  • 2015 to 2019 subject enrolments.

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%.

AVI Aviation 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 2019 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Aviation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, Maritime IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, Rail IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast and Transport and Logistics IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 24 Nov 2021
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