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Maritime

Overview

The Maritime sector operates in a globalised shipping network as well as across local markets including fishing and aquaculture, tourism, and patrol and rescue operations. Australia’s coastline is over 60,000 kilometres in length and our search and rescue region covers more than 10% of the Earth’s surface.

Vocational education and training (VET) is required in the Maritime sector in job roles such as:

  • General Purpose Hands
  • Coxswains
  • Marine Engine Drivers
  • Marine Engineers
  • Marine Surveyors
  • Cooks
  • Integrated Ratings
  • Deck Officers
  • Ships Masters
  • Marina Operations.

Nationally recognised training for the Maritime sector is delivered under the MAR - Maritime Training Package.

For information on the Aviation, Rail, and Transport and Logistics 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 Water Transport industry fluctuated significantly between the years 2002 and 2022, increasing overall from roughly 9,700 to 11,700 in 2022. Employment is projected to increase to 15,300 by 2025.

Marine Transport Professionals make up 16% of the Water Transport industry workforce and the employment level for this occupation is projected to increase by nearly 4% between 2022 and 2026. Deck and Fishing hands make up around a further 12% of the workforce and the employment level for this occupation is projected to decrease by more than 4% in the same period.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments decreased steadily between 2017 and 2020 before increasing between 2020 and 2021 with around 5,880 and 6,790 respectively. Program completions have fluctuated between 2017 and 2021, and have increased from approximately 3,800 in 2020 to 4,120 in 2021.

The proportion of subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program decreased overall between 2017 (95%) and 2021 (92%).Program enrolments in 2021 were mainly at certificate level, with 40% at certificate II, 34% at certificate III and 20% at certificate I. The majority of program enrolments during 2021 were in Near-Coastal qualifications (96%) with Ship’s Master the main intended occupation for training, followed by Ship’s Engineer and Deck Hand.

The majority of training in Maritime-related qualifications during 2021 was delivered by private training providers (56%), with TAFE institutes accounting for a further 33%. Approximately 66% of all subjects were Commonwealth and state funded and 32% were funded by domestic fee for service.

In 2021, students enrolled in this sector were mainly from Queensland (32%) and New South Wales (27%), followed by Western Australia with 13% and 8% were from Tasmania. Approximately 32% of training was delivered in Queensland, followed by New South Wales (29%), Tasmania (12%) and Western Australia (11%).

Apprentice and trainee commencements in Maritime-related qualifications decreased slightly between 2020 and 2021, from around 160 to about 155. Completions have increased in the same period. The intended occupations for apprentices and trainees were Ship’s Master, Ship’s Engineer or Deck Hand. Approximately 70% of apprentice training was reported by Queensland, 10% each by New South Wales and Western Australia, and 9% by 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 Maritime IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identifies the top priority skills for the Maritime workforce in the next three to five years as:

  • Health and safety
  • Operational skills
  • Digital literacy
  • Risk management.

The top five generic skills in order of importance are listed as:

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

The top priority industry and occupation skills include navigation and vessel handling.

Furthermore, the Maritime IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast states over 78% of employers in the Maritime sector reported experiencing a skills shortage during the last 12 months. Shortages were reported in the following occupations:

  • Small vessel (<35m) masters
  • Engineers (various)
  • Marine engine drivers
  • Deckhands
  • Navigation.

Reasons employers indicated for the shortage in order of frequency were:

  • Cost/time to achieve the required qualification
  • Ageing workforce / current staff retiring
  • Wages / salaries considered too low
  • Competition from other organisations
  • Geographic location of the vacancy.

The Maritime IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast states new skills will be required due to the development of new technologies and innovations, increasing complexity of communication systems, autonomous vessels and technology-based operational systems. The innovations discussed in the Maritime IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast include a new Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS), remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV), autonomous container ships and vessels, Dynamic Positioning (DP) systems and e-navigation.

There are two new industry workforce, skills developments or trends that emerged since the release of the Maritime IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast in the Maritime IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast (abridged annual update). They relate to new technologies and automation in dredging and maritime operations. Dredging operations ensure shipping channels maintain their declared depth and improve their performance, but the operations must conform to environmental obligations. This requires a highly skilled workforce able to safely perform the required tasks and comply with technical and environmental regulations. The Maritime Industry Reference Committee has submitted a Case for Endorsement and draft Training Package materials to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) for consideration at its meeting on 21 July 2021. The project developed a new Dredging Operations Skill Set, one new Unit of Competency and updated one qualification. The developments in information and communications systems in modern navigation will require upskilling the workforce as a priority, particularly in e-navigation and berthing and unberthing.

Building on the industry workforce, skills developments or trends identified in the previous two years, the Maritime IRC’s 2021 Industry Outlook (abridged annual update) highlights four opportunities and challenges for the Maritime industry sector under the categories of safety, automation, digitalisation and navigation, and industry-specific cyber security:

  • The Maritime engineering workforce needs to be up skilled in the safe operation, maintenance, repair and replacement of electrical and refrigeration equipment. Industry also requires additional safety requirements to be addressed by seafarers involved in mooring and dredging operations.
  • The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has approved the operation of an unmanned surveillance vessel which will still operate in conjunction with human supervision. Australia’s regulatory framework may be applied to autonomous and unmanned vessels, and AMSA is considering a qualifications framework for the operators of these vessels. The workforce will need to be aware of the regulatory framework to ensure compliance and safety, and have the skills and knowledge to operate them.
  • There are a growing number of positions available for operators and maintainers of Australian vessels with Dynamic Positioning (DP) systems. DP systems use a vessel’s sensor data to calculate the steering angle and thrust power to offset the environmental factors and keep the vessel on the desired route and position.
  • Workforce skills need to be progressively developed to minimise the risk of cyber-attacks and be capable of reinstating digital systems as quickly as possible should a cybersecurity incident occur, including compliance with regulatory requirements.

The Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL) Pre-budget Submission 2021-22 states that as the world’s largest island nation, Australia requires maritime skills more than most other countries. The submission highlights various issues including a maritime skills shortage that is forecast to be greater than 560 people by 2023, and that the sea service component of maritime certification is unique in that it does not qualify as part of an apprenticeship or traineeship which would attract VET funding, or as part of a university course which would permit HECS-HELP funding. MIAL also proposes the Australian Government fund a strategic fleet of up to 20 vessels which would provide 1800 permanent jobs and training for around 100 seafarers while generating higher tax revenue than the required government subsidy each year.

The Maritime Industry Profile and Ports and Stevedoring Industry Profile by the Logistics & Defence Skills Council in Western Australia reports Master Unlimited (in relation to Harbour Master), Ships Master, Marine Surveyor, Marine Pilots, and Ships Engineer as occupations in high demand, and employers are finding it difficult to replenish the maritime workforce due to limited training pathways or cadetships. There is an ongoing depletion of blue-water Australian flagged ships, and Australian mariners will be required to go overseas to gain the necessary training and experience which will exacerbate skills shortages as it is likely many will not return to Western Australia. The 2021 Skills Priority List includes the Maritime-related occupations of Master Fisher, Ship's Engineer, Ship's Master, Ship's Officer, Marine Surveyor, Deck Hand, and Fishing Hand under occupations not in national shortage, with moderate future demand.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

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

  • by ANZSIC 2 digit Water Transport industry, employment projections to May 2025.

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
    • 2312 Marine Transport Professionals
    • 8992 Deck and Fishing Hands.

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 2 digit ‘Water Transport’, 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 2 digit Water Transport Industry, and 4 digit level VET related 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, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • Maritime Training Package (MAR, TDM)
  • Blue-Water
    • MAR50115 - Diploma of Maritime Operations (Engineer Watchkeeper)
    • MAR50120 - Diploma of Marine Engineering
    • MAR50213 - Diploma of Maritime Operations (Engineer Watchkeeper)
    • MAR50313 - Diploma of Maritime Operations (Watchkeeper Deck)
    • MAR50315 - Diploma of Maritime Operations (Watchkeeper Deck)
    • MAR50320 - Diploma of Maritime Operations
    • MAR50413 - Diploma of Maritime Operations (Master up to 500 GT or Master 80 metres)
    • MAR50415 - Diploma of Maritime Operations (Master up to 500 GT)
    • MAR60113 - Advanced Diploma of Maritime Operations (Marine Engineering Class 2)
    • MAR60115 - Advanced Diploma of Maritime Operations (Marine Engineering Class 2)
    • MAR60120 - Advanced Diploma of Marine Engineering (Class 1)
    • MAR60213 - Advanced Diploma of Maritime Operations (Master Unlimited)
    • MAR60215 - Advanced Diploma of Maritime Operations (Marine Engineering Class 1)
    • MAR60220 - Advanced Diploma of Maritime Operations (Master Unlimited)
    • MAR60313 - Advanced Diploma of Maritime Operations (Marine Engineering Class 1)
    • MAR60315 - Advanced Diploma of Maritime Operations (Master Unlimited)
    • TDM30307 - Certificate III in Transport & Distribution (Maritime Operations - Integrated Rating)
    • TDM50207 - Diploma of Transport & Distribution (Marine Engineering - Engineer Watchkeeper)
    • TDM50307 - Diploma of Transport & Distribution (Maritime Operations - Deck Watchkeeper).
  • Maritime Services
    • MAR10213 - Certificate I in Maritime Operations (Linesperson)
    • MAR20116 - Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Linesperson)
    • MAR20120 - Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Linesperson)
    • MAR20121 - Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Linesperson)
    • MAR30113 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Integrated Rating)
    • MAR30116 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Integrated Rating)
    • MAR30120 - Certificate III in Marina Operations
    • MAR30218 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Integrated Rating)
    • MAR30220 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Integrated Rating)
    • MAR30315 - Certificate III in Marina Operations
    • MAR30318 - Certificate III in Marina Operations
    • MAR30320 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Marine Cookery)
    • MAR30415 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Marine Cookery)
    • MAR30713 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Marine Cookery)
    • MAR40118 - Certificate IV in Maritime Operations (Marine Surveying)
    • MAR50215 - Diploma of Maritime Operations (Marine Surveying)
    • MAR50220 - Diploma of Maritime Operations).
  • Near-Coastal
    • MAR10120 - Certificate I in Maritime Operations (General Purpose Hand Near Coastal)
    • MAR10220 - Certificate I in Maritime Operations (General Purpose Hand Near Coastal)
    • MAR10313 - Certificate I in Maritime Operations (General Purpose Hand Near Coastal)
    • MAR10318 - Certificate I in Maritime Operations (General Purpose Hand Near Coastal)
    • MAR10413 - Certificate I in Maritime Operations (Coxswain Grade 2 Near Coastal)
    • MAR10418 - Certificate I in Maritime Operations (Coxswain Grade 2 Near Coastal)
    • MAR20313 - Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Coxswain Grade 1 Near Coastal)
    • MAR20318 - Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Coxswain Grade 1 Near Coastal)
    • MAR20321 - Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Coxswain Grade 1 Near Coastal)
    • MAR20413 - Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Marine Engine Driver Grade 3 Near Coastal)
    • MAR20418 - Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Marine Engine Driver Grade 3 Near Coastal)
    • MAR20421 - Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Marine Engine Driver Grade 3 Near Coastal)
    • MAR30813 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Marine Engine Driver Grade 2 Near Coastal)
    • MAR30818 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Marine Engine Driver Grade 2 Near Coastal)
    • MAR30821 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Marine Engine Driver Grade 2 Near Coastal)
    • MAR30913 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Master up to 24 metres Near Coastal)
    • MAR30918 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Master up to 24 metres Near Coastal)
    • MAR30921 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Master up to 24 metres Near Coastal)
    • MAR31013 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Master Inland Waters)
    • MAR31018 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Master Inland Waters)
    • MAR31021 - Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Master Inland Waters)
    • MAR40220 - Certificate IV in Maritime Operations (Marine Engine Driver Grade 1 Near Coastal)
    • MAR40320 - Certificate IV in Maritime Operations (Master up to 35 metres Near Coastal)
    • MAR40513 - Certificate IV in Maritime Operations (Marine Engine Driver Grade 1 Near Coastal)
    • MAR40518 - Certificate IV in Maritime Operations (Marine Engine Driver Grade 1 Near Coastal)
    • MAR40613 - Certificate IV in Maritime Operations (Master up to 35 metres Near Coastal)
    • MAR40618 - Certificate IV in Maritime Operations (Master up to 35 metres Near Coastal)
    • MAR50613 - Diploma of Maritime Operations (Marine Engineering Class 3 Near Coastal)
    • TDM20107 - Certificate II in Transport & Distribution (Maritime Operations)
    • TDM20207 – Certificate II in Transport & Distribution (Marine Engine Driving - Grade 3)
    • TDM20307 - Certificate II in Transport & Distribution (Coastal Maritime Operations - Coxswain)
    • TDM30107 - Certificate III in Transport & Distribution (Maritime Operations)
    • TDM30207 - Certificate III in Transport & Distribution (Marine Engine Driving - Grade 2)
    • TDM30407 - Certificate III in Transport & Distribution (Coastal Maritime Operations - Master Class 5)
    • TDM40207 - Certificate IV in Transport & Distribution (Marine Engine Driving - Grade 1)
    • TDM40307 - Certificate IV in Transport & Distribution (Coastal Maritime Operations - Master Class 4).

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 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%.

Maritime 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: 29 Nov 2022
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