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Transport

Overview

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.

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

Road Transport is the largest employing industry sector with Water Transport being the smallest. Employment levels increased overall between 2001 and 2019 for all the Transport related industries except Water Transport however levels have declined since then for Road Transport, Air and Space Transport and Transport Support Services. Employment levels are projected to increase for all sub-sectors until 2025.

Program enrolments in Transport industry related qualifications declined overall between 2017 (110,010) and 2020 (73,690). Program completions have also declined since 2017, with 19,140 completions in 2020. The proportion of subjects delivered as part of nationally recognised program has declined overall between 2016 and 2020, from 76% to 65%.

 

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

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 Transport Industry 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.

Aviation

The aviation sector has been disproportionally affected by COVID-19. The Aviation IRC’s 2021 Industry Outlook (abridged annual update) reports a 63% decline in international aircraft movements and 49.1% decline in domestic aircraft trips in 2019-20. The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (Department of Infrastructure) submitted to the Future of Australia’s aviation sector, in the context of COVID-19 and conditions post pandemic inquiry that at the peak of the crisis, passengers carried in Australia fell by around 97 per cent and over 30,000 aviation workers were stood down or laid off. An estimated $61 billion of economic benefit was lost between March and October 2020. The Australian Airports Association (AAA) estimated that more than 70 per cent of staff at regional airports have been placed on reduced hours, been re-deployed or made redundant. The AAGHIA submitted that, in addition to pilots, personnel requiring recertification include aircraft tow drivers, aircraft load controllers, aircraft movement coordinators, trainers, systems experts, aviation safety and compliance personnel and leaders across the sector. Due to the long period of negligible flight activity, almost the entire ground handling workforce has needed, or will need, to be retrained and accredited.

Since March 2020, the Australian Government has implemented a range of measures to support the industry and maintain air connectivity for Australians, including accreditation programs for ground handlers, and payments to the two international passenger airlines to cover employee expenses including training to maintain workforce flight skills and currency. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has continued providing exemptions and relief measures, including a number of CASA authorisations for pilots and aircraft operators, measures for aircraft maintenance engineer candidates who a part-way through a training and examination program, flight examiner proficiency checks, and remote pilot licence (RePL) training instructors. With the removal of quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers in New South Wales and Victoria and partial reopening of the international border (international flights remain subject to government and regulatory approval), Qantas and Virgin Australia have been able to begin their recovery processes.

The Aviation: Flight Operations Industry Snapshot by the Western Australian Logistics and Defence Industry Skill Council states COVID-19 has radically altered the way the aviation industry operates globally, with approximately two-thirds of the world’s passenger planes grounded. Pilots are required to fly once every 45 days to maintain Civil Air and Safety Authority (CASA) licences, and it is anticipated that there may be training bottlenecks for pilots due to the lower aviation activity and limited access to simulators. For Ground Operations, concern is expressed that skilled workers, for example baggage handlers, cargo and ramp services employees, may be permanently lost due to being stood down or made redundant.

Maritime

The Maritime IRC’s 2021 Industry Outlook (abridged annual update) states the pandemic has caused significant disruptions for the industry sector and is struggling to maintain tourism, ferry and cargo operations. Inconsistencies around border closures are making employment and business survival difficult, and the international sub-sector is exposed to the risk of infection as seafarers enter ports with severe COVID-19 issues. Due to reduced employment opportunities, qualified crew members are leaving regional areas which will result in extreme skills shortages.

The Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL) Pre-budget Submission 2021-22 provides a synopsis of the impacts of COVID-19 on the Maritime Industry. The submission states the pandemic has had far reaching impacts, with the effects on the sub-sectors varying dependent on the nature of their operations. The examples provided include that marine tourism has been decimated; the volume of activity in offshore oil and gas services has reduced dramatically with many vessels leaving Australia; towage and port services declined and are still not back to their pre-COVID levels; support services are experiencing a downturn due to lower levels of activity and the inability to work as normal due to border closures; and the international and internal border closures have created a huge cost impost on the industry due to quarantine requirements, increased travel costs and limited aviation linkages, and wages for employing duplicate employees to cover those unable to attend their workplaces. The Maritime Industry Profile by the Logistics & Defence Skills Council in Western Australia reports temporary relocation of workers is being explored as the hard border restrictions have prevented the sector from mobilising their permanent crew, which due to the highly specialised nature of some of the roles approximately 50% are fly-in, fly-out workers based in the eastern states and New Zealand.

The press release for the Safety & Shipping Review 2021 states that the pandemic is still affecting the ability to make the required crew changes, with approximately 200,000 seafarers unable to be repatriated in March 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. The working conditions are making it difficult to attract and train new people and there may be crew shortages when international trade rebounds. The Maritime Industry Profile states the requirement that cruise ships dock in regional areas in Western Australia from February 2020 had been expected to provide a financial boon for these areas, and the Queensland Transport and Logistics Workforce, Current and Future Trends: Maritime and Ports released in 2018 identifies cruising as an area of potential growth for the maritime industry sector, with increases in domestic cruising of 23.4% recorded between 2015 and 2016. However, the human biosecurity emergency period under the Biosecurity Act 2015, which has been in place since 18 March 2020, has been extended several times, with the 2 September 2021 announcement extending the period until 17 December 2021. This extends the four existing emergency determinations including restrictions on the entry of cruise vessels within Australian territory. Cruise ships, defined as capable of carrying more than 100 passengers, are prohibited from operating cruises.

Rail

The Rail industry is providing essential services during the pandemic. The Rail IRC’s 2021 Industry Outlook (abridged annual update) states the domestic and international restrictions in the shipment of goods and falls passenger numbers have negatively impacted the sub-sector. The Rail Transport: Freight Industry Snapshot highlights the sub-sector has been continuing with construction, maintenance, and operational work in Western Australia. However, many companies previously relied on fly-in, fly-out workers and have needed to undertake recruitment drives for more locally based trainees. Additionally, there is a shortage of trainers and assessors in Western Australia, many of whom have returned to operational roles to fill shortfalls, which will exacerbate pre-existing shortages for Train Drivers, Train Controllers and Track Workers. It is mentioned in the Infrastructure Workforce and Skills Supply report that international travel restrictions may increase skills shortages in rail due to the sub-sector’s reliance on overseas skilled workers. Rail IRC’s 2021 Industry Outlook (abridged annual update) raises the issue of recertification for rail operators as training delivery has been affected by the pandemic.

For rail passenger transport, operators have introduced a wide range of additional measures to support the continued safe operation of the network, including increased deep cleaning, additional services during peak shoulder periods, and minimising touchpoints. The Rail Transport: Passenger Industry Snapshot shows patronage was heavily reduced on passenger trains as a result of COVID-19, with 4,148,169 less passenger movements in May 2020 when compared to the same period in May 2019. The Australasian Railway Association reports the first quarter of 2021 had 100 million fewer rail journals than in pre-COVID times. The number grew in the second quarter of 2021, but was curtailed by lockdowns in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. It is noted in the Value of Rail 2020: the Contribution of Rail in Australia that the future of rail and public transport after the pandemic is uncertain as the extent of patron behavioural changes to working from home and alternate methods of transport is still unknown.

Transport and Logistics

The Transport and Logistics IRC's 2021 Industry Outlook (abridged annual update) states the pandemic has caused significant disruptions to supply chains across the world. The rollout of the vaccination program will also be a further challenge to the supply chain sector. The global supply chain has been significantly affected by the pandemic and strict lockdown measures in many countries. There are unprecedented demands for critical products, and the industry has encountered mail and parcel delivery delays and shortages of products.

A view from the top: current workforce challenges in supply chain and logistics reports that the pandemic and the continued interruption to the flow of raw materials and finished goods by lockdowns highlighted previously invisible vulnerabilities in Australia’s complex global and national supply chains. Transport workers travelling between states and territories have needed to negotiate a wide number of regulations and requirements, for which the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has maintained a resource to provide assistance.

The Logistics & Defence Industry Skills Council Road Transport Industry Profiles and Snapshots state in relation to freight that trucking businesses within the grocery and fuel supply chains continue to be in high demand throughout the pandemic (largely due to panic buying), however other small to medium operators experienced reduced or no work; for passenger transport, on-demand transport and regional charter bus services experienced a downturn which resulted in job losses, and there was an 80% decrease in bus usage; and within furniture removal training has stopped. For Warehousing and Storage Services, the increased demand in online shopping and panic buying during the early stages of COVID-19 has required both small and large companies to accelerate their capacity to deliver in the e-commerce market, with the flow on effects of the need for additional facilities to store their stock locally and to process deliveries, and increased postal deliveries.

Commencing March 2020, Australia Post changed the requirement for signatures on delivery to avoid unnecessary contact. Extended lockdowns have caused surges in parcel deliveries as record numbers of people shopped online. During the 2021 lockdowns, around 500 of Australia Post’s people on any given day have been in precautionary self-isolation in accordance with state regulations. Parcel deliveries in Victoria were temporarily suspended to allow workers time to catch up with processing. Air freight capacity issues have led to the temporary suspension of deliveries outbound from Australia and from other countries to Australia. The 2021 Inside Australian Online Shopping Industry Report states Australian online shopping reached an all-time high in 2020, with online purchases growing 57% year-on-year. The September 2021 update finds purchases in August were 24% higher than August 2020, equivalent to the online shopping levels seen around Christmas 2020.

The Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey for the reference period March 2021 reports a slow, steady return to using public transport since restrictions began in March 2020 with one in seven (14%) Australians reporting they used public transport one or more times a week in March 2021 compared with one in 11 (9%) in September 2020. However, almost one in four (23%) people reported using public transport one or more times a week before COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020. A journal article investigating bio-security concerns of Australian public transport users finds that concerns about the hygiene, crowding and compliance with public health orders by other users of public transport are enduring, and may need to be addressed to promote the sub-sector’s recovery.

Links and resources

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

 

IRC and skills forecasts

 

Relevant research

Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL) Pre-budget Submission 2021-22 – Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL)

Maritime Industry Profile – Logistics & Defence Skills Council (Western Australia)

Ports and Stevedoring Industry Profile – Logistics & Defence Skills Council (Western Australia)

Skills Priority List – National Skills Commission

 

COVID-19 references

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

State and territory border closures – Australian Interstate Quarantine

 

Aviation

Assistance to the Aviation Sector – Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Aviation: Flight Operations Industry Snapshot – Western Australian Logistics and Defence Industry Skill Council

Aviation: Ground Operations Industry Snapshot – Western Australian Logistics and Defence Industry Skill Council

Future of Australia’s Aviation Sector, in the Context of COVID-19 and Conditions Post Pandemic: Interim Report – Australia. Parliament. Senate. Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee

Qantas and Jetstar Gear Up for Accelerated Border Opening – Qantas Group

Virgin Australia welcomes NSW quarantine arrangements, extends free booking flexibility – Virgin Australia

 

Maritime

 

Allianz: ‘Shipping losses remain at historic lows, but Covid, mega-ship, supply chain and climate challenges loom large’ – Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty (AGCS)

COVID-19 emergency measures extended for a further three months – Minister for Health and Aged Care

Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL) Pre-budget Submission 2021-22 – Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL)

Maritime Industry Profile – Logistics & Defence Skills Council (Western Australia)

Ports and Stevedoring Industry Profile – Logistics & Defence Skills Council (Western Australia)

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

 

Rail

First quarter of 2021 sees 100 million fewer rail journeys than pre-COVID times – Australasian Railway Association

Infrastructure Workforce and Skills Supply: a Report from Infrastructure Australia's Market Capacity Program – Infrastructure Australia

Keeping our rail network COVIDsafe – Australasian Railway Association

Q2 rail patronage lifts, but falls in lockdown states expected in Q3 – Australasian Railway Association

Rail Transport: Freight Industry Snapshot – Logistics & Defence Skills Council (Western Australia)

Rail Transport: Passenger Industry Snapshot – Logistics & Defence Skills Council (Western Australia)

Skills Priority List – National Skills Commission

Value of Rail 2020: the Contribution of Rail in Australia – Deloitte Access Economics

 

Transport and Logistics

A View from the Top: Current Workforce Challenges in Supply Chain and Logistics – Hermione Parsons, Roberto Perez-Franco, Patricia McLean and Jennifer Jones

Coronavirus (COVID-19) response – National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR)

COVID-19 is having a higher than usual impact – Australia Post

Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey – Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

Inside Australian Online Shopping 2021 – Australia Post

Inside Australian Online Shopping e-Commerce Update: September 2021 – Australia Post

No signature required for delivery or collection – Australia Post

Postal Services Industry Snapshot – Logistics & Defence Industry Skills Council

Public Transport Trends in Australia During the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Investigation of the Influence of Bio-Security Concerns on Trip Behaviour – Matthew J. Beck, David A. Hensher and John D. Nelson

Road Transport: Freight Industry Snapshot – Logistics & Defence Industry Skills Council

Road Transport: Furniture Removalists Industry Profile – Logistics & Defence Industry Skills Council

Road Transport: Passenger Industry Snapshot – Logistics & Defence Industry Skills Council

Warehousing & Storage Services Industry Snapshot – Logistics & Defence Industry Skills Council

 

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 & Defence Skills Council

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

  • by ANZSIC 2 digit industry, employment projections to May 2025
    • 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 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ06 - Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 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 2 digit ’46 Road Transport’, ’47 Rail Transport’, ‘48 Water Transport”, ‘49 Air and Space Transport’, ‘52 Transport Support Services’ and ‘53 Warehousing and Storages’, 2001 to 2021, May quarter.

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:

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 program completions
  • 2016 to 2020 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:

  • 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.
Updated: 19 Jan 2022
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